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Tradition Is Complementary to Progress

When people use the word traditionalist, they imagine someone who is locked in the past and unwilling to admit any progress. This is a wrong notion of tradition. True tradition is the foundation for an authentic and stable progress. The following words of Pius XII make it very clear.

Pope Pius XII

Tradition is something very different from a simple attachment to a bygone past; it is the very opposite of a reaction mistrustful of all healthy progress. Etymologically, the word is synonymous with advancement and marching forward, synonymous but not identical. In fact, while progress indicates only a forward march, step by step, in search of an uncertain future, tradition also signifies a forward march, but a continuous march as well, a movement both brisk and tranquil, in accordance with the laws of life, escaping the distressing alternative “Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait!” "O, if youth only knew... O, if old age only could..." ...

By virtue of tradition, the youth, enlightened and guided by the experience of the elders, moves forward with a surer step, and the elders can confidently pass on the plow to stronger hands, to continue the furrow already begun. As the word itself indicates, tradition is a gift handed down from one generation to another; it is the torch that one runner passes to the hands of the next at each relay, without the race slowing down or coming to a halt. Tradition and progress complement each other so harmoniously that, just as tradition without progress would be a contradiction in terms, so also progress without tradition would be a reckless enterprise, a leap into darkness.

Pius XII, Speech to the Roman Nobility and Patriarchate,
January 19, 1944, Discorsi e Radioessaggi, vol. 5, pp. 179-180.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted June 18, 2016