This is interesting. And it might explain why there is such a negative attitude among a certain age cohort towards those they accuse of wanting to turn back the hand of time, to be “restorationists.”
Yet for those traditionalists who did not experience the Jansenism and legalism of the pre-Conciliar Church, but who have come to appreciate the beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass and the lex orandi/lex credendi/lex vivendi aspect of the Catholic faith in its fullness, it is easy to understand why they are wondering why the Pope seems to be attacking them or setting them up as some kind of straw man, or caricature. (Pelagians; people who count their rosaries, etc.) Anyway, it seems one either sees the pre-Conciliar Church as a “golden age” or a kind of “dark age” but I think there was a need for reform just as there is a need for reform now. The Church is constantly in renewal.
What Pope Francis is trying to do, and this I am sure makes some, perhaps many Catholics and others uncomfortable, is the very thing Jesus did when He challenged the religious leaders to move from over emphasis on “the Law”, which people knew and heard about every time they went to Temple, and to place the emphasis on love and mercy.I grew up when perhaps the most pernicious of all heresies and distortions of authentic Catholic faith, rooted in the 17th century, still held sway in much of the Church, certainly at the parochial school and parish level.
Briefly put it sustained an atmosphere of clericalism, disdain not only for the human body but even a suspicion about personhood and conveyed the message that God was harsh, mean, so much so many Catholics were fearful of God.
This is the journey out of bondage St. Pius X started us on, that made St. Therese, the Little Flower so popular because she reminded us God IS love, and now Pope Francis is seeking to take us all deeper NOT by changing the truth about abortion, for example, but, as Bl. John Paul did, calling us to Christ-like love and compassion for one another.
When in the interview, naturally the media skipped this part, Pope Francis states: “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you……the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives….” he is echoing the Council’s document on the Church, which begins with the words: “Christ is the light of humanity.”, and the words of Bl. John Paul in his first encyclical the Redeemer of Man: “The Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe and of history.”
Frankly, I have not seen a lot of evidence the Catholic Church has been legalistic at all in recent times. But I do remember the Catholic Church of the 1950s that my friends attended. It was a dour church, full of nuns who might box your ears or hit you with the ruler, a church where kids learned the Catechism with its questions and answers by rote but did not burn with the love of God.
In Quebec, there are stories about priests who would tsk tsk if a woman had only a couple of children. Whether this is true I don’t know, but it’s a widespread criticism of the Church because everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who had a priest cluck cluck about birth control. And indeed, families with 20 children were not that uncommon pre-Vatican II. In fact, Prime Minister Jean Chretien came from a family of 21 children.