Unless you are praying the Novena before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, stop right now and go to Crisis and read:
A Unified Theory of “Backwardism”
What was so awful about the pre-Vatican II Church that its memory needs to be obliterated and those who hold to doctrines that are ancient in provenance must be labeled as “rigid” and psychologically damaged?
By Darrick Taylor.
Pope Francis has presented many of his key initiatives as pope as efforts to “move the Church forward,” as the saying goes. As you probably also know by now, he is vehemently opposed to anything that takes the Church “backward.”
In recent months, he started using an Italian neologism—“indietrismo” or “backwardism”—to describe those Catholics who are opposed to progress in the Church. Francis’ torrent of abuse and invective has been quite consistent, and it matches up increasingly with his actions, especially since the crackdown on the Latin Mass began in 2021.
This verbal onslaught is aimed at those who “reject Vatican II,” though he never fully clarifies who is rejecting what precisely. There are certainly those around Francis who view the existence of the old liturgy as a symbol of the pre-Vatican II Church, which the postconciliar Church has left behind. Given his choice of appointments to the Pontifical Academy for Life, this likely includes those who do not want the Church’s doctrine on contraception to “develop.” Apparently, he sees things the same way, or at least wants to signal that he does.
But the question remains: Why? What was so awful about the pre-Vatican II Church that its memory needs to be obliterated and those who hold to doctrines that are ancient in provenance must be labeled as “rigid” and psychologically damaged? I should be clear, I don’t think there are any good reasons for this, and some of this must be attributed to ill feeling on his part. Francis clearly sees people who are somehow “backward” as opponents, and he clearly wishes they would go away.
However naive it may be, I am not willing to leave it at that. It may be that there is no rationality at all in this attack on the Catholic past, but somehow I doubt it. In part, it is because this attack is selective. Only parts of the past come in for this sort of treatment and not others. Because there are so many different parts of Catholic teaching and tradition that “progressive” Catholics call into question, it is difficult to pin down one set of motives; but I think the motivation is political, in the broadest sense of that term.