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Francis's Christmas Message: Hegelian "New Age" Process Theology about "the Very Distinction between Good and Evil [being] Obliterated"

- Updated December 25, 2019

Church Militant reported yesterday that a theologian who wished to remain anonymous said Francis's Christmas message to the Roman Curia was a "returning to progressive 'process theology.'"

Moreover, the Catholic news website's anonymous theologian statement was echoed by theologian Fr. Dwight Longenecker on December 21 on Twitter:

"[I]n response to the pontiff's [Christmas message] remarks, he [Longenecker] simply posted the words 'Process Theology' followed by a link to the Wikipedia entry on the topic."
(Church Militant, "Pope Spouts 'Evolutionary  Theology in Christmas Address," December 24, 2019)

What is process theology?

The Fr. Longenecker link in the Themes section on the Wikipedia entry topic to Process Theology says:

"The universe is characterized by process... God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism, not pantheism or pandeism)... God is changeable."

What is Panentheism and which teachings of Francis are Panentheistic?

On August 9, Crux reported that Francis said his Panentheistic Laudato si is the basis of his Synod on the Amazon and apparently his Christmas message:

"When asked why he convened a synod on the Amazon, Francis said, 'It is the ‘child’ of Laudato si’.'"

It is important to show that what Francis is promoting in Laudato si is not Pantheism, but Panentheism which is a major component of process theology.

The Washington Post explains that his radical environmental encyclical Laudato si teaches Panentheism:

'''The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. [Quote from Laudato si.]'"

"Mystical nature panentheism in a papal encyclical! And with a nod to liberation theology! And with a footnote to the Sufi mystic Ali al-Khawas, no less."

"Whatever impact “Laudato Si’” has in the political world remains to be seen. But that the pope is here embracing a nature-based mysticism, a highly adumbrated anthropocentrism, and a radical “integral ecology” places the encyclical alongside the best of radical, progressive religious environmentalism — and far outside what even mainline Protestant denominations have affirmed heretofore."

What is Panentheism and why does it contradict Christianity?

Christian philosopher James N. Anderson spells out what it is and why it contradicts Christianity:

"There are many reasons why I reject panentheism, but in this post I want to mention just one. Panentheism comes from the Greek words for ‘all’, ‘in’, and ‘God’ — literally, “all-in-God-ism”. On this view, God is neither fully distinct from the universe (as in classical theism) nor identical with the universe (as in pantheism). Instead, the universe exists ‘in’ or ‘within’ God. The prepositions ‘in’ and ‘within’ are obviously not meant in a spatial sense (as in “Bob is in the kitchen”). Rather, they’re meant to capture the idea of ontological containment. God pervades and encompasses the universe in such an intimate fashion that there is an overlap or intersection between the being of God and the being of the universe. While God is more than the universe, there is no clear ontological distinction between God and the universe (which includes us, of course)."

"It’s not difficult to see the attractions of a panentheistic view of God. Who wouldn’t like to imagine that they’re within God — that their soul participates in the divine? Who wouldn’t like to think that — to put it somewhat crudely — they’re part of God? Such a view can do wonders for your self-esteem! (On the other hand, if you already have high self-esteem, panentheism nicely validates it.) Likewise, panentheism is convenient for legitimizing your lifestyle choices, whatever they happen to be. If it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for me — and since it’s good enough for me, it must be good enough for God!'

Theism and Panentheism (not to scale)
"Despite these practical benefits, however, it seems to me that panentheism has a fundamental metaphysical flaw. According to biblical theism, God created the universe out of nothing and is ontologically distinct from it. There is a clean Creator-creation distinction. Moreover, God is not merely good (as though God were being judged by some external standard of goodness) but is goodness itself. God is the Absolute Good, the ultimate standard by which any other good is judged to be good. God is the norm and the universe is the normed (i.e., that which is subject to and judged by the norm). To use the classical categories, God is the Good, the True, and the Beautiful — originally, perfectly, and normatively. The universe is merely good (in part), true (in part), and beautiful (in part)."

"For the panentheist, however, matters must be very different indeed. Since the universe is in God, insofar as there is good in the universe there must be good in God. So far, so good — so to speak. But by the very same token, insofar as there is evil in the universe there must be evil in God. If the universe is a mixture of good and evil (which I take to be an obvious truth) then God must also be a mixture of good and evil, on the supposition that God contains the universe. Whatever pollutes the universe unavoidably pollutes God, on account of the ontological overlap between God and the universe."

"It follows that God cannot be the Absolute Good. If the panentheist takes seriously the reality of evil, he ought to conclude that God is not pure goodness. But then God can’t be the ultimate standard of goodness. So who or what is? The answer must be: nothing. For that standard would have to be independent of God, yet the panentheist maintains that everything is in God (“all-in-God”). In short, the root problem with panentheism is that it conflates the norm and the normed. Consequently, the very distinction between good and evil is obliterated. When there is no Absolute Good, there is no good at all — and therefore no evil."

The Christian Apologetics Alliance shows how Jesuit Karl Rahner's and apparently Francis's Panentheism is found "in New Age... syncretism":

"In discussing Panentheistic aspects of theologian Karl Rahner’s philosophy,authors Stanley Genz and Roger Olsen state that Rahner’s view implies that”the source of the difference between God and the world lies in God himself, and therefore the difference is not absolute” (20th Century Theology, InterVarsity Press, 1992, p. 249). Any stance which renders God’s interaction with the world a part of his nature or an interaction of necessity falls into the Panetheism category."

"Panentheism is also found commonly in the NEW AGE [my capitalization], forms of Christian-NEW AGE [my capitalization] syncretism (such as the beliefs expressed by Episcopal priest Matthew Fox), New Thought, Theosophy, and Neoplatonism."

Another panentheist was the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel:

"For Hegel, God does not exist apart from creation, perfect and complete. Instead, Hegel holds that God is actualized through the world."
(, "Hegelian Panentheism," November 15, 2012)

It appears that what Hegel may have been saying is "God [who] does not exist apart from creation is actualized through the world" by "fully assuming the incarnation."

In other words, we don't need God the Creator of us and the universe to keep us in existence at every moment. Nor do we need His Incarnation to redeem us from our sin. Instead God needs us to be "actualized" and come into "reality" in the "particular, concrete."

It appears that Francis is a Hegelian Panentheist. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote in 2006:

"It would be very difficult to make philosophy in the contemporary world by skipping Hegel... reality is always embodied, particular, concrete. There can be no access to universality without fully assuming the incarnation."
(, "Bergoglio, Hegel and Latin America, Notes of Cardinal Bergoglio's philosophy in the margin [preface] of a book by Amelia Podetti / American lands," January 17, 2014)

Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church as well as the Triumph of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


marysong said…
No doubt about it Francis the Merciful is obliterating the concept of good or God. God is not a concept. God is GOOD. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that evil is the absence of good.

If Francis the Merciful wants to teach that there is no good ... he is therefore teaching atheism. No God. Therefore he is teaching that the world is full of evil, which is really not true at the moment.

It may be true in the future when the good God withdraws all his grace from the world. The grace of the Mass and the Sacraments fills the earth with grace (good)

Our salvation depends on not listening to everything the Pope says these days. Thank God for St. Thomas Aquinas, for all the good priests who keep on preaching to us and filling the earth with goodness and grace with their words and their ability to give us the Sacraments. We'd better pray hard for them. One can see every day that Francis would like to obliterate the priests who are good. Then he can have his world with no good and co operate with his pal the antichrist, the lawless one. Everything goes when there is "no absolute good" No laws are needed. We all obey the WILL of the lawless one, ac. Careful what you listen to !! Caution ... Fire hazards ahead!! Come quickly Great Monarch and Angelic Pastor! Viva Cristo Rey!
Jack said…
I think this article is a bit wrong-headed. Saying that the universe exists in God is a valid formulation (St. Paul says that in God "we live, and move, and are"), only it requires some clarification to avoid any pantheistic error. Aquinas says that all things are in God by efficient cause (causing a thing to come into being), rather than by a formal cause (being what the thing is). This distinction is the one needed to avoid panentheism. Someone who believes God is in a thing by way of a formal cause believes that what the thing is, ultimately, is God. So God is in this table in that in some sense this table is God, or is absorbed in the divine being. This indeed confuses the eternal, uncreated, divine and self-subsistent Being of God with the limited being of creatures, destroying God's transcendence above all creatures. However, as well as God being above all things by way of divine transcendence, it's also true that God is in all things by way of divine immanence. It's just that this divine immanence is by way of efficient causality, causing it to come and sustaining it in being. This is how Aquinas can say that God is more interior to our us than we are to ourselves, since God is so fully inside us. I would amend that diagram to have the universe in God just like in the panentheism figure, but have a gap or empty layer on between God and the universe with arrows pointing from God to the universe just like in the theism figure. I think this would better demonstrate both divine transcendence and divine immanence. The saints often had mystical insight into this divine presence in the world and in the soul, and Aquinas himself in fact experienced this in a blade of grass. So the excerpt from Laudato Si is not necessarily erroneous, it's just vague enough to allow an erroneous panentheistic interpretation, which is just another example of the ambiguity and lack of theological and philosophical professionalism in Vatican documents.
Aqua said…
This topic is an example of how an obscure (as in as high as the heavens are from the earth) concept (the nature of God) can be twisted by its obscure essence to mean something entirely different; its obscurity renders it difficult for most people to understand how that happened.

This is how heresy begins - not that people necessarily *want* to disobey God but that they do not have Shepherds with the intellectual, spiritual gifts of learning and the fortitude and discipline to protect others, or perhaps they choose not to listen.

Homoousious: Of the same substance as God.
Homoiousious: Of a similar substance as God
The Christian Faith falls, or is sustained, by the presence or absence of one little letter “i”.
The Christian Faith fought hard over that singular vowel.

What brought me into the Catholic Faith were the multiplicity of opinions on the vast array of topics ... just like this. Everyone has an opinion, and some people are smart and smooth enough to advance theirs over others. Arius was so good at this rhetoric, he convinced almost the entire world. But not the Church, officially. And ultimately it was the acts of the official Church that chose and defined Truth between one, Arius, and the other, Athanasius.

As Jack says, Pantheism is a tempting deviation. We rely on the Church (if not the living present, then the collected and definitive past) to guide the way through the weeds. This article is a necessary, relevant contribution. I am Re-reading carefully, and all follow-up comments which are so good.
nazareusrex said…
Catholic Monitor Bergoglio in rebellion against God is replacing the Catholic clergy with an apostate clergy who does not teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ but promotes the worship of pagan cults
Anonymous said…
Also this means that nothing can be judged, everything is good, and we (humans) can indeed create utopia. It all boils down to the worship of the self. Or, Satanism.

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