Who Goes Back is Wrong?

“It was quite a courageous gesture of the Church to draw closer to the people of God so that they can understand well what she is doing. It is important for us to follow the Mass like this. One cannot go back. We have always to go forward, always forward. Who goes back is wrong. Let us go forward on this path.” - Pope Francis

"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place." - Pope Benedict XVI

As a newly qualified English language teacher, I have been told consistently to reflect, to go back on what I am doing, look over my teaching methods and to improve my overall teaching. Evaluation is part and parcel of my chosen career. If I evaluate what I do in the classroom and find that it is not working out, the students are not learning the teaching aims, then I have to alter my perspective and change it. Bad teachers keep doing the same thing and repeating the same mistakes, even teaching error to their students. Good teachers are not perfect teachers, but those who are able to reflect and learn from their mistakes. I cannot simply 'go forward' if I am not teaching effectively.

Likewise, Jesus Christ does not simply call us to 'go forward', marching on blindly. He ceaselessly calls us back to Him. Repentance means turning around. We can go forward quite happily and unhappily leave Jesus Christ behind. There is no merit in simply going forward, for we could be going forward into the abyss. If I am in mortal sin, simply going 'forward' is not going to help me to save my soul. I could be marching merrily into Hell. I have to go back, turn around, preferably to a priest, to confess, to acknowledge my guilt and seek absolution to return to a state of Grace. Simply 'going forward' for the sake of going forward is the language of the ideological progressive who refuses to state where we are going forward to, neglecting to tell us for what purpose, for what reason or whether that movement forward has anything at all to do with Salvation.

Numerous statistics have been made available over time, not least by the Latin Mass Society that show a certain trend that does not lend greater credibility to the post-Concilliar Church as a resounding success. Of course, success is not necessarily what the Church is about, but faithfulness to Christ means reflecting on exactly what is going on and whether what we are doing is working for the salvation of souls and sanctification of the people of God. An ideological commitment to going 'forward' at any cost, not examining the evidence given by those of goodwill is, frankly, lunacy.

And why, exactly, should Catholics, Popes, Bishops and Cardinals, or priests, have an irrational fear of the past, of the tradition of the Church? Why such fear and loathing of our heritage? Why is commitment to the Novus Ordo so rigid and inflexible that it cannot bring itself to acknowledge any - dare I say it - weaknesses or deficiencies at all in comparison to the glorious Mass of Ages?

Why is it that the spectre of the traditional Latin Mass is one that haunts so many prelates and brings them out in a sweat? What, exactly, is so offensive about the Latin tongue in the liturgy? What is so terrifying about Mass being celebrated Ad Orientem? No reasons are given, just a kind of psychological 'we mustn't go there' response that any psychotherapist could tell you means you have deep-rooted problems with accepting your past, as if the Latin Mass was some kind of horrendous ecclesiastical inflicted trauma visited upon the Church's children by brutalising, callous parents.

Thanks to Benedict XVI, more and more young people, as well as older people, are able to enjoy the liturgical riches of the Traditional Latin Mass. This mission to restore the sacred to the liturgy is being taken up by more and more priests and Bishops as well. This is not a threat to the Church - this is about giving God the glory that is His right and permitting, out of love, the Faithful to seek the Lord in the Mass offered by the Church for 1,500 years or more. This has seen a renewal of the desire for holiness, a thirst for a relationship with Jesus Christ, an increase in vocations in those Orders that embrace it and a real sense of love for the Church as well as fidelity to Her infallible teachings.

"Who goes back is wrong", says His Holiness.

Going back isn't wrong if you are going in the wrong direction. I am only a layman but it seems obvious to me that the Hierarchy must be mature enough to admit that there are paths the Church has taken which have not led to an improvement in catechesis, that have not led to the fulfillment of those ambitious spiritual goals set out by the Second Vatican Council. These words of Pope Francis will have a chilling effect in parts of the Church. It sends out quite a signal to bishops who wish to clamp down upon clergy who celebrate the Mass of Ages. It is, finally, saddening to look at Pope Francis's words and to see that the 'wisdom' of Benedict XVI which he himself has praised openly does not extend to the wisdom the Pope Emeritus showed in bringing forth treasures both old and new in the Church's liturgy. There is an oblique criticism of the Pope Emeritus within the words of his Successor that rip to shreds the hermeneutic of continuity that he sought to restore. More and more Catholics today look at the Church and say, about many things, Benedict XVI was right.


What, exactly, is so offensive about the Latin tongue in the liturgy? What is so terrifying about Mass being celebrated Ad Orientem?
It is the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus!
It is wrongly associated only with the Traditional Latin Mass.

SSPX 'spokesman' : Theology of Vatican Council II is in agreement with the strict interpretation of extra ecclesiam nulla salus
Sr Sandals said…
On the LMS graph, the steep decline in converts starts in 1959 just as Pope John XXIII announced that there would be another Council. Just as with the announcement of a war, it doesn't matter whether the troops engage for another few years or not, the very calling of the Council is when the rot start. We have the experience now of how this works, having seen how the Synod started the media discussion and the behind-the-scenes agenda-setting. The announcement of a synod or council is when it starts, as with a war.

Some people are in such denial over this that they try to explain the falling away of converts to the Pill or some curious hotch-potch of new afluence and nuclear terror.

The answer is that it was the Council that has caused all of this. It's fruits are rotten. It's reasons were a fear/idolatry of 'the world' and a clear lack of Faith.

The FFI began to criticise the Council and it is no wonder they are persecuted. They are right.

The Second Vatican Council was just like the Synod is now, a failure of Faith. We are being given the lesson again so we can clearly see and respond to this deceitful mechanism which has nothing to do with 'Baptizing the Nations in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost' and everything to do with the Evil One.
The hypocrisy of this "no going back" ideology is laughable.

The whole premise of the Novus Ordo project was one of a claimed "going back" to the "noble simplicity" of the ancient Roman rite. This in spite of Pope Pius XII's condemnation of "archaeologism" in the liturgy.

If the Bugnini project was indeed a successful return to the ancient Roman liturgy (which many would dispute) then it is the NO crowd which can be accused of "going back" from the relatively modern Roman rite of 1962, your valid criticisms of the criticism notwithstanding.
Mark Lambert said…
An excellent post Laurence, thank you for putting all this information together so clearly for us.

I find it impossible to comprehend why this is not simply understood by more people. Clearly lots of the generation who saw the reforms as something which would build the Church are now in seats of power, so that must have some degree of effect. You would assume, however, that after what? Fifty years?? Even those who had invested a great deal of intellectual capital in the success of Bugnini's liturgical reforms would have the integrity to recognise that they did not have the desired effect (actually, perhaps this only works if you have the best interests of the Church & the people of God at heart?).

The liberalisation of the Church and the capitulation to moral relativism has been a devastating failure, meanwhile, as you point out so lucidly here, it is the orthodox orders and dioceses where we continue to see growth.

Is it not time to recognise this fact and start a renewal of Catholic orthodoxy which will see us fulfil our mission to transform the world in Christ Jesus? Why do so many seem determined to stop Catholics who want to be Catholic being Catholic? As Brian Moore put it: the only modern heresy is yesterday’s orthodoxy.
Anonymous said…
IMHO pope Benedict was a great pope, catholic, faithful and a very, very wise man, I'm sure he was right in many ways, but they didn't want him to stay for anymore and fired him.....now we have a new bishop of Rome, 't's a pity I'm not from Rome, a guy that the whole earthly people like, maybe next december he will win the Nobel prize for peace, but he will never be a pope of the RCC, anyway he doesn't like the job, lives in a hotel, disdains every papal emblem and speaks just like an old southamerican caudillo or even like an old TDL priest marxist-peronist, that's the real truth, to be honest, at least, he's no catholic. I apologize for my hard words, but this is what I really think about him. God bless+
Pelerin said…
Brilliant Laurence! Yes this comment from Pope Francis has worried me to.

I am reminded of something the father of a Catholic friend said to me many years ago when I was still searching. I had just got up early in order to attend Mass in a tiny chapel in a small French town. The family knew I was not a Catholic and when I returned they were curious to know why I had done this. A discussion followed and my friend's father turned to me and slowly said - 'You know the Catholic Church is the only one which goes right back to Christ.'

How right he was and I have never forgotten this. Thank you Monsieur B. for setting me on the right path to Faith!
Cuf of Coppee said…
Looking at the graph, going back looks like good place to start going.

Wasn't it Michael Davies who said that when you're lost in the woods going back is making progress?
Anonymous said…
Yes, Pope Benedict was a great, faithful Catholic man who knew what was wrong and had only so much strength left to try to turn it around. The Holy Ghost let him retire and ALLOWED the magisterium to select this poorly catechized modernist to speed up the process of demonstrating just how wrong things have been since Vatican II. Unfortunately, millions will follow Bergoglio into heresy. But those Benedict was trying to help--the traditional Catholics and the truth faith will remain, separated like wheat from chaff. THAT will be the true Church. My guess is ultimately Lefebvre will become revered just as Athanasius was...and for the very same reason.
When exactly does the so-called "God of Surprises" ever surprise Bergoglio?

I mean, what could be more surprising for this Pope than a God Who surprised him by actually wanting the liturgy to return to the Traditions that actually were most effective for the faith?

Or does the "God of Surprises" only "surprise" everyone EXCEPT Pope Bergoglio?
Jacobi said…
The Post -Conciliar Church has been a disaster. There is no other way to put it.

And that means so many souls have been put in great danger.

The Holy Father has urged parrhesia, frank and open speech. He runs a Church staffed by priests who overwhelmingly were ordained post- Vat II, who have overwhelmingly committed their lives to this process of collapse. No doubt he feels it necessary to sustain while he seeks some way out?

I speak as a father and grandfather. I have a direct interest in this. I am personally a bit miffed at the mess, the complete and utter shambolic mess, the Popes from St John XXIII onwards have made of the Catholic Church. I include Benedict XVI in that since although elderly - as indeed am I - he seems to be perfectly capable of running the Church from the Vatican, with its beautiful gardens for recuperation. He should not have resigned.

A Modernist/Relativist faction has existed in then Church since before the time of St Pius X. The story is well known and should be now openly acknowledged. They seized their opportunity after Vat II, hence the shambles, and they or their successors are now making another bid in trying to take over the Synod on the Family by turning it into a synod on divorce and homosexual practises,with the ultimate aim of downplaying or denying the doctrine of the real Presence.

Doctrine can deepen in understanding. It cannot evolve. The Real Presence remains then Real Presence. The liturgy and the Mass of St Pius V expressed that. It remains a valid rite of the Church and has been confirmed by Pope Benedict XVII as a current valid co-equal form of the Mass of the Western Church.

To suggest that to hold to it, or to further it or support, or to do anything other than promote it as a fully valid Catholic Mass of the Western Catholic Church is “going back” is,l actually, wrong!
Liam Ronan said…
The Prodigal Son went back.
"One cannot go back. We have always to go forward, always forward. Who goes back is wrong." - I'm delighted that Pope Francis now realises that it's wrong to offer Mass with one's back to the Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Deo gratias!
Anonymous said…
Social Darwinism. Anti-Catholic. Anti-Deposit of Faith. Anti-objective truth. Anti-reason. Anti-God.

Blessed Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle . . .
Pétrus said…
I arrived in London by train for work earlier today. I need to get home but I have decided that as the Pope is always right going backwards is wrong.

Foolishly I had thought that by taking a train back I would arrive at my destination.

I am happy to announce that I shall be following the Popes advice and travelling always forward! With this in mind I shall be circumnavigating the globe (latitudinally of course) in order to get home from work.

This is of course the correct course of action. Only a fool would ever go backwards. While this might appear to me as taking longer than usual I will console myself with the Pope's words "who am I to judge?"
Physiocrat said…
Penetrating summary. Nothing to add.
Anonymous said…
Touche Liam!!

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