Francis Condemns “Backwardism” by Invoking St. Vincent of Lérins

Source: District of Asia

Monastery on Lérins’ island

As usual, during his apostolic journey to Hungary, Pope Francis met with the country's Jesuits. The interview was published by La Civilta Cattolica. Notably, Francis questions “restorationism” and justifies Traditionis Custodes, invoking St. Vincent of Lérins.

During the interview, seven questions were put to the Pope by the Jesuits present, revolving around youth ministry, the formation of young Jesuits, abuses, and Argentine Jesuits imprisoned in 1976. The next question was about the Second Vatican Council:

The Second Vatican Council talks about the relationship between the Church and the modern world. How can we reconcile the Church and the reality that is already beyond the modern? How do we find God’s voice while loving our time?

Francis: “I wouldn’t know how to answer that theoretically, but I certainly know that the Council is still being applied. It takes a century for a Council to be assimilated, they say. And I know the resistance to its decrees is terrible.”

“There is unbelievable restorationism, what I call ‘indietrismo’ (backwardness), as the Letter to the Hebrews (10:39) says: ‘But we do not belong to those who shrink back.’ – It should be noted that this text by St. Paul is quoted very inappropriately, because it mentions those who apostatize, to retreat – or to withdraw – meaning ‘to abandon the faith.’”

“The flow of history and grace goes from the roots upward like the sap of a tree that bears fruit. But without this flow you remain a mummy. Going backwards does not preserve life, ever. You must change, as St. Vincent of Lérins wrote in his Commonitory when he remarked that even the dogma of the Christian religion progresses, consolidating over the years, developing with time, deepening with age.”

“But this is a change from the bottom up. The danger today is indietrismo, the reaction against the modern. It is a nostalgic disease. This is why I decided now the permission to celebrate according to the Roman Missal of 1962 is mandatory all newly consecrated priests.”

“After all the necessary consultations, I decided this because I saw that the good pastoral measures put in place by John Paul II and Benedict XVI were being used in an ideological way, to go backward. It was necessary to stop this indietrismo, which was not in the pastoral vision of my predecessors.”

St. Vincent de Lérins’s Commonitorium (written in 434)

Remember what he says: “II.6. In the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense ‘Catholic,’… This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent.”

“We shall follow universality, if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at least of almost all priests and doctors.”

“III. 1. – What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church has cut itself off  from the communion of the universal faith? – What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? 2. What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? – Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.”

For Pope Francis, it seems, St. Vincent of Lérins would be one of the backward ones.