Pope Francis: Guarding ‘dead traditions’ is dangerous for the Church’s life

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA


Pope Francis meets participants in the international conference ‘Lines of Development of the Global Compact on Education’ in a room adjacent to the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, June 1, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2022 / 12:35 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday criticized people who “call themselves guardians of traditions, but of dead traditions,” saying that failing to move forward is dangerous for the Church today.

Speaking to the organizers of a conference on education on June 1, the pope said that it was vital to make progress by “drawing from the roots.”

He said that “there is the fashion — in every age, but in this age in the Church’s life I consider it dangerous — that instead of drawing from the roots in order to move forward — meaning fine traditions — we ‘step back,’ not going up or down, but backward.”

“This ‘back-stepping’ makes us a sect; it makes you ‘closed’ and cuts off your horizons. Those people call themselves guardians of traditions, but of dead traditions.”

Pope Francis underlined that “the true Catholic Christian and human tradition … grows, progresses.”

“Education, for its part, is always rooted in the past, but it does not stop there: it is directed towards ‘forward-looking initiatives,’ where the old and the new converge to create a new humanism,” he said.

The pope underlined that true tradition is “what that fifth-century theologian described as a constant growth: throughout history, tradition grows, progresses: ut annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate.”

The pope was referring to St. Vincent of Lerins, who wrote about the development of Church teaching, saying that it “is solidified over the years, extended with time, and refined with age.”

Pope Francis has invoked this quotation numerous times since his election in 2013, including in a letter on Amoris laetitia in 2018.

The pope did not mention the liturgy or Catholic doctrine in his June 1 address, but focused his speech on education.

He said that Virgil’s Aeneid contains an image that “can serve to illustrate the mission of educators, who are called to preserve the past … and to guide the steps of the young towards the future.”

“An eloquent example of how to confront the crisis can be found in the epic figure of Aeneas, who amid the flames of his burning city, carries on his shoulders his elderly father Anchises and takes the young son Ascanius by the hand, leading them both to safety,” Francis said.

“Aeneas saves himself, but not by himself. He brings with him his father, who represents his past, and his son, who represents the future. And so he moves forward,” he added.

Pope Francis said that this representation of tradition being respected and preserved reminded him of “what Gustav Mahler said about tradition: ‘Tradition is the guarantee of the future,’ not a museum piece.”

The pope met at the Vatican with participants in a conference organized to evaluate the work accomplished so far by his Global Compact on Education and to plan for its development in the years to come.

“I thank you for all that you do in the service of education, which is also the specific contribution that you are offering to the Church’s synodal process. Keep moving in this direction, from the past towards the future, continuous growth,” he said.

“And be attentive to the ‘back-stepping’ so much in vogue today, which makes us think that by stepping back, we can preserve humanism,” the pope added.

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    • That’s because humanist progressivism is his religion, rather than Christianity. This has been obvious from day one, when he stepped out onto that balcony to proclaim a false gospel of “a church for the poor”. It’s been a long time since we have had an out-and-out pagan for a pope, and we don’t know what to make of it. Cognitive dissonance, and all that.

      • “Church of the poor” is “false gospel”? have you read the Bible at all? Or do you fringe fruitcakes have your own gospel? It sounds like you have your own religion. Maybe come up with a catchy name for it and start your own service.

  1. We read: “The pope was referring to St. Vincent of Lerins, who wrote about the development of Church teaching, saying that it ‘is solidified over the years, extended with time, and refined with age.’”

    Based on St. Vincent of Lerins, St. John Henry Cardinal Newman (the “Father of the Second Vatican Council”) gave the Church his “Development of Christian Doctrine,” not much of which seems to be respected today under the tradition (!) of Jesuitical nepotism.

    From Newman:
    “I venture to set down seven notes of varying cogency, independence, and applicability to discriminate healthy developments of an idea from its state of corruption and decay, as follows: There is no corruption IF IT RETAINS”:

    (1) One and the same TYPE [doctrine/natural law v. a disconnected degree of pastoral “accompaniment”?],
    (2) The same PRINCIPLES [sound philosophy v. neo-Hegelianism?],
    (3) The same ORGANIZATION [the Barque of Peter v. all religions equivalently (?) “the will of God”?];
    (4) If its beginnings ANTICIPATE its subsequent phases [Catechism/Veritatis Splendor v. normalization of homosexual activity, etc.?], and
    (5) Its later phenomena PROTECT and subserve its earlier [Veritatis Splendor/Familiarus Consortio v. the bogus social-science “arc of history”?];
    (6) If it has a power of assimilation and REVIVAL [Neww Evangelization v. Amazonia/ Germania?], and
    (7) A vigorous ACTION from first to last…” [steadfastness because also fully engaging new challenges v. photo-op signaling and double-speak, or the tactics of silence?].

  2. I cannot think of anything positive to say in response to this pope, other than may Almighty God have mercy and remember him when he lies among all of the dead traditions he so callously despised.

  3. Taking one step forward and two steps backward cannot be our way of proceeding. Wise elderly citizens of the Planet say, rigidity in thought, word, and action needs to be replaced with a healthy dose of flexibility. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” – says the Gospel according to John.

  4. Folks out in the West Coast, woke [it seems wokeness is more prevalent out there] before us East Coasters unfairly get to these articles hours before us stealing whatever thunder we possess. At any I’ll give a tardy try.
    Noted in comments previously much of what Francis commends as renewal is, if examined “is solidified over the years, extended with time, and refined with age” is viable, except when assessed in context of outcome. What the Church [many of its clerical members] has practiced privately for centuries, praxis of discernment in hardship cases of dispensing the Eucharist while avoiding scandal is now openly propagated in Amoris Laetitia as universal policy. It would be beneficial and marvelous if that were limited, and scandal were avoided as the pontiff and supporters frequently claim. But it’s not. The practice of giving the benefit of the doubt to the penitent living in manifest sin has become widespread, so widespread that in many regions the difference between the elements for worthy reception and continuing to live in sin is lost. The reason is the principles for discernment in AL inviolability of personal conscience devoid of doctrinal formation, the conflated principle of mitigation, contention that universal principles are not universal [misinterpreting Aquinas in ST 1a2ae 94, 4] opened the floodgates leaving reception of the Eucharist to one’s private judgment.
    Lerins never suggested that refinement of doctrine meant its morphose from a butterfly into a caterpillar. That a sacramental marriage is invalid [by simply discerning that a previous sacramental marriage was invalid, or may be set aside due to circumstances for the benefit of the divorced and remarried outside the Church].
    What is most apparent is that the indiscriminate dispensing of the Eucharist will and does inevitably give the impression that we receive a God who really isn’t interested in our behavior, that doing as we wish contrary to his revealed life modifies our image of a God who doesn’t appear to be God. Human nature, as when a parent permits a child to do as they wish, absent of discipline perceives an absence of love and with that an unfatherly father. Which is why so many Catholic laity and priests disbelieve in the real presence.

    • I should modify,”It would be beneficial and marvelous if that were limited, and scandal were avoided as the pontiff and supporters frequently claim” – not on the basis of hardship alone, rather when there’s indication of evidence for annulment that is no longer available for submission to a tribunal. There are exceptions in this context when leniency may be in order. Although the only viable evidence is written or given testimony. I haven’t had that experience during my priesthood, others have. Fr Thomas Weinandy referred to such instances. So conceivably it could be a good. That is the theoretical premise Pope Francis submits in Amoris Laetitia, although he undergirds it with the dissolution of principles necessary to protect the sanctity of marriage. This is where AL fails to be compassionate since it is detrimental to valid marriages especially those with children. That’s what’s occurring now with many simply leaving their valid commitment for another relationship assuming marriages are more than likely dissoluble. That, supported by clergy who give them the benefit of the doubt based on principles contained in Amoris Laetitia.

  5. This Pope doesn’t seem to realize there is nothing deader and more useless than the hippie 1970’s “Spirit of Vatican II” garbage his ilk have shoved down the throats of the laity for the bast fifty years.

  6. So much gobbledygook, and physical metaphors. But that what you get when you mix papal infallibility with an ignorance of actual Catholic praxis.

  7. As usual, the most charitable thing to be said about the Pope is that, assuming he is not heretical, no one has any idea what the heck he is talking about.

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