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Pope Francis speaking with Hungarian Jesuits, April 2023Screenshot/Antonio Spadaro Twitter

BUDAPEST, Hungary (LifeSiteNews) –– Pope Francis has once more issued strong criticisms of Catholics devoted to the traditional liturgy and practice of the Church, stating that the “incredible support for restorationism” is a “nostalgic disease.”

The pope’s comments came as part of the private conversation he held with Jesuits in Hungary on April 29, as part of his now-customary meeting with Jesuits of the respective province during a papal trip. 

Addressing the Jesuits, Francis spoke about the “danger” of “indietrismo” or “going backwards,” which he said was in opposition to the Second Vatican Council. The statement came in response to a question on how to “reconcile the Church and the reality that is already beyond the modern?” “How do we find God’s voice while loving our time?,” the Jesuits asked.

“I wouldn’t know how to answer that theoretically, but I certainly know that the Council is still in the process of implementation,” replied Francis.

Stating how it “takes a century for a Council to be assimilated,” the pope took aim at Catholics devoted to the traditional Mass and liturgical practice, adding that “I know the resistance is terrible.” 

There is incredible support for restorationism. What I call ‘indietrism,’ as the Letter to the Hebrews 10:39 says: ‘We, however, are not of those who turn back.’

The flow of history and grace goes from down up like the sap of a tree bearing fruit. But without this flow you remain a mummy. Going backwards does not preserve life, ever.

As has become commonplace in such statements, Francis referenced the writing of St. Vincent of Lérins on doctrine, arguing how “he says that even the dogma of the Christian religion progresses, consolidating with the years, developing with time, deepening with age.” 

Such a change would be “from the bottom up,” said Francis, before stating that “the danger today is indietrism, the reaction against the modern. It is a nostalgic disease.” 

Expanding on this theme, Francis argued that the “nostalgic disease” of “indietrism” prompted him to issue his restrictions on the traditional Mass in 2021 – restrictions which have only grown subsequently. He stated:

This is why I have decided that it is now obligatory to obtain the concession to celebrate according to the Roman Missal of 1962 for all newly consecrated priests. After all the necessary consultations, I decided this because I saw that pastoral measure well done by John Paul II and Benedict XVI was being used in an ideological way, to go backwards. It was necessary to stop this backwardness, which was not in the pastoral vision of my predecessors.

The pope’s July 2021 motu proprio Traditionis Custodes contained, as he referenced, the stipulation for any priest ordained after the document was published to have to request permission to say the traditional Mass which the Church has used for centuries.

St. Vincent of Lerins – the misused saint?

Pope Francis has made a habit of quoting St. Vincent’s writings when making an argument for revolution in the Church’s practice or teaching. On such occasions, Francis states that a change is simply natural and a part of the Church’s consistent “development.”

READ: Pope Francis on the Church’s ban of birth control: Morality is ‘always on a path of development’

However, St. Vincent of Lerins did not advocate for a rejection of Church teaching – despite the manner in which his words are commonly used today – but rather he stated that as an individual’s physical body grows in accordance with the Divinely ordained plan, so must any development of Church doctrine follow the same law of progress. 

The saint wrote that such a process should “be consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age, and yet, withal, to continue uncorrupt and unadulterate, complete and perfect in all the measurement of its parts, and, so to speak, in all its proper members and senses, admitting no change, no waste of its distinctive property, no variation in its limits.”

Pope Francis with Hungarian Jesuits. Credit: Antonio Spadaro

READ: Pope claims Vatican II was ‘renewal’ of the Church ‘in tune with the signs of the times’

St. Vincent was in fact very clear in his opposition to novel doctrine which had no grounding in the Church’s Tradition. In instances where confusion abounds within the Church, due to a part having “cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith,” St. Vincent presents clear teaching on the Catholic response: 

What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his [a Catholic’s] care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

Words of an ‘abusive father’

Swiftly responding to his comments after their publication by the Jesuits, Catholics highlighted the issue of the pope’s words. Eric Sammons, editor of Crisis Magazine, noted the “underlying ideology” of Francis’ statement was that “Catholics must embrace change for change’s sake,” something which he called “the real problem here, and threatens to undermine every aspect of Catholicism.”

Others styled the pope’s words as those belonging to an “abusive father,” while popular podcaster and apologist Dr. Taylor Marshall responded that “the demographics are against him. Time is against him.” 

READ: Pope calls for an end to ‘intransigent defense of tradition’  

The pontiff’s latest comments are by no means the first time that he has taken aim at Catholics devoted to the traditional form of the Church’s life. Denigrations of those he styles as “rigid” have been a defining characteristic of his 10-year pontificate.

READ: Pope tells theologians to consult ‘non-Catholics,’ avoid ‘going backward’ in Tradition

He has also made such comments to the International Theological Commission, a body of theologians set up by Pope Paul VI in 1969 to advise the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Addressing the ITC in November last year, he warned against “going backward.” 

Instead, he urged they allow “Tradition” to grow and to promote the Gospel by consulting non-Catholic “experts.”