On the one hand…
“The [Second Vatican] council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the council told us to do?” … The answer, he said, is “no.”
Catholics seemed willing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the council’s opening in 1962, he said, but they want to do so by “building a monument” rather than by changing anything.
At the same time, Pope Francis said, “there are voices saying we should go back. This is called being hard-headed, this is called wanting to domesticate the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming ‘foolish and slow of heart'”.
“You cannot turn back, we have to always go forward, always forward and who goes back is making a mistake,” [Pope Francis] said.
But then on the other…
[I]f human society is to be healed now, in no other way can it be healed save by a return to Christian life and Christian institutions. When a society is perishing, the wholesome advice to give to those who would restore it is to call it to the principles from which it sprang; for the purpose and perfection of an association is to aim at and to attain that for which it is formed, and its efforts should be put in motion and inspired by the end and object which originally gave it being. Hence, to fall away from its primal constitution implies disease; to go back to it, recovery.
— Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum (15 May 1891)
[T]to restore all things in Christ and to lead men back to submission to God is one and the same aim. To this, then, it behoves Us to devote Our care — to lead back mankind under the dominion of Christ; this done, We shall have brought it back to God. When We say ‘to God’ We do not mean to that inert being heedless of all things human which the dream of materialists has imagined, but to the true and living God, one in nature, triple in person, Creator of the world….
[W]e must use every means and exert all our energy to bring about the utter disappearance of the enormous and detestable wickedness, so characteristic of our time — the substitution of man for God; this done, it remains to restore to their ancient place of honor the most holy laws and counsels of the gospel; to proclaim aloud the truths taught by the Church, and her teachings on the sanctity of marriage, on the education and discipline of youth, on the possession and use of property, the duties that men owe to those who rule the State; and lastly to restore equilibrium between the different classes of society according to Christian precept and custom.
— Pope Pius X, E supremi (4 October 1903)
Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world.
“For me, [explains Pope Francis,] the great revolution is going to the roots, recognizing them and seeing what those roots have to say to us today. There is no contradiction between [being a] revolutionary and going to the roots. Moreso even, I think that the way to make true changes is identity. You can never take a step in life if it’s not from behind, without knowing where I come from, what last name I have, what cultural or religious last name I have.”
[According to Cardinal Kasper, Pope Francis] “wants to initiate a new beginning for the church,” Kasper said, but not by destroying tradition. Rather, “Pope Francis stands in a great tradition, reaching back to the earliest beginnings.”
“He does not represent a liberal position, but a radical position, understood in the original sense of the word as going back to the roots, the radix.” By reaching back through time, he is, in fact, “constructing a bridge to the future.”
Continue to Brian Williams’s latest blog post at One Peter Five for a slightly less turgid analysis than mine.