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Backwardism?

What is "backwardism"? That is the term used in a pejorative manner recently by a certain high ranking Catholic clergyman (actually, the highest). He was speaking about Catholics who value the way that the Church always did things (important things like theology, morality, liturgy, etc.). Our current Pontiff does not appear to appreciate tradition in the exact same way that traditionalists do. I would normally leave it alone, but even more recently I came across someone else using this term as an attack against the Ordinariate and I believe it necessary to comment on it.


Let us consider this idea of "backwardism" for a bit. There are such things that can properly be called "backwardism". Take for example someone who wishes to abandon all modern technology and return to a lifestyle similar to the 18th century. As tempting as that may be, that would be considered "backward" (though, please realize, that does not mean that it is necessarily wrong!).


There is also the possibility that someone may say that America has gotten off track and wants to return to the principles of society that existed in the early 19th century. Would that be considered "backward"? Not necessarily. In fact, someone with that perspective might better be said to adhere to "restorationism" than to say it was "backwardism". The difference is really based on what is being turned away from. If someone is turning from something that is a good development, then that is "backward"; if someone is turning away from something is a perversion, then that is "restoration".


Another good example would be those who wish to hide their age with surgery, etc. This is a denial of what God has created and the way that the world works. This is "backward" since God tells us to accept and be thankful for old age. Society's obsession with youth and glamor has fueled this and brainwashed many of the faithful in this regard. When a parent, on the other hand, realizes that he has been exposing his child to adult things, and he repents and returns to a proper understanding of childhood, that is not "backward" but "restoration".


Let us take one last example, which should make things even more clear. If there is a lapsed Catholic, and I tell him to repent and return to the faith, am I encouraging "backwardism"? No, we would all call that "restorationism". I am wanting him to return to what is good and right. For something to be "backward" it needs to be a rejection of what is good. For someone to claim that a return to holiness is "backward", only shows that he himself is "backward", because he is wanting to revert to fallenness and sin.


With this in mind, we can answer the question about whether traditionalists are "backward". The conclusion should be obvious. The only way to claim the Ordinariate is "backward" is to assert that everything before 1965 is bad, errant, and childish. I am fairly certain that those who use this attack against the Church (which is what is really being attacked, we are just the ones experiencing it) do not want to go there. They know that is protestant thinking and not Catholic.


The Church has grown over the last 2000 years, and it has always been in the direction of holiness; she has never abandoned her past or said that it is backward to appreciate it. The efforts of traditionalism are truly an effort in restoration. Who truly is "backward"? It is those who want to overturn the previous twenty centuries of the faith and fashion a Church that mimics the ancient acceptance of sin that the devil encouraged in the Garden of Eden. Brothers and sisters, stand fast and do not give in to the devil.

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