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Traditional Catholic
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Traditional Catholic

Traditional Catholic is a term used to describe Roman Catholics who reject some or all of the reforms instituted after the Second Vatican Council, especially the Novus Ordo Missae, i.e., the revised rite of Mass. Traditional Catholics differ from so-called conservative Catholics in that the latter often attend the older Tridentine Mass and practise the faith in a more traditional manner merely out of personal preference rather than conviction that the Novus Ordo Mass and the post-conciliar pastoral orientation lead to harm and a watering down of the Faith.

Table of contents
1 Difference between "Conservative Catholic" and "Traditional Catholic"
2 Traditional Catholicism and Sedevacantism
3 Chinese Catholicism
4 Traditional Catholic claims
5 Differing Traditional and Conservative Catholic attitudes towards Vatican II
6 Attitude of most Roman Catholics towards Traditional Catholics
7 See also
8 Books supportive of the traditional Catholic movement
9 Footnotes
10 External links

Difference between "Conservative Catholic" and "Traditional Catholic"

What differentiates "conservative Catholics" from "traditional Catholics" are their attitudes towards and responses to the documents (and interpretations thereof) of the Second Vatican Council and the postconciliar reform of the Order of the Mass contained in a new edition of the Roman Missal – the product of a Consilium set up by Pope Paul VI. The former give their assent to all the post-Vatican II reforms while seeking a more "conservative" interpretation of them; the latter maintain that many or all of the reforms are wrongheaded and must be rejected. There is therefore a certain inadequacy to these labels. Today's "conservatives" are in fact entirely different than those conservatives in authority in the Church immediately before, during and after the Second Vatican Council; ironically they are more akin to the liberals of that time. "Traditionalists", on the other hand, mirror the old conservatives almost exactly. Because of this discrepancy it is becoming more and more popular today to refer to the former not as "conservatives" but as "neo-conservatives" or even "neo-Catholics". The prefix "neo-" is used because these people do not hold the same beliefs as did the conservatives of yesteryear; indeed, it could be said that they do not believe the same as did Catholics of yesteryear. This odd situation is well illustrated by the case of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who is today labelled "ultra-conservative", but was considered a radical leftist theologian during the Second Vatican Council. He himself has said that he has not moved to the right in four decades, but that the world and the human element of the Church have moved so far to the left that even a progressive of his conviction now looks conservative.

Traditional Catholicism and Sedevacantism

Traditional Catholics can be generally divided into two groups. The majority of traditional Catholics, while opposing some recent Vatican decisions that they see as contradicting former teaching, still claim union with Vatican Pope and accept his authority. The smaller, second group, called "sedevacantists", believe in the papacy itself but reject one or more of the "Vatican II popes" (Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, and Pope John Paul II) as antipopes owing to their belief that these men are heretics due to many of the Vatican II decrees and subsequent papal promulgations. A very small subset of sedevacantist groups has elected popes of their own.

Chinese Catholicism

Not all groups which reject Vatican II are considered traditional Catholic. Most notably, in the People's Republic of China, the state sponsored Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) denies the papacy entirely and rejects all pronouncements by the Vatican after the Communist Revolution in 1949 including those regarding the Tridentine Mass. Ironically, within the PRC holding a non-Tridentine Mass implied recognition of the authority of the Vatican rather than that of the Chinese government and is an act of political dissent. In the early 1990's however, the CCPA reversed this policy, specifically with regards to the liturgy, and now uses a ceremony modeled closely after the Novus Ordo Misssae.

Traditional Catholic claims

Traditional Catholics see the Second Vatican Council as a Council whose documents were marked by an ambiguity which has led to error or which contained errors themselves. Foremost among these perceived errors are:

Differing Traditional and Conservative Catholic attitudes towards Vatican II

Most traditional Catholics (i.e., those who are not sedevacantist) see the Second Vatican Council as an authoritative, valid Council, but one which was pastoral and which produced no infallible definitions that Catholics must accept as a part of the Faith. Support of this claim is found in Pope John XXIII's Opening Address to the Council, Pope Paul VI's closing address, the lack of formal definitions and anathemas in the Council's sixteen documents, and the ambiguity of the documents themselves. Traditional Catholics see the Second Vatican Council as having been "hijacked" by Modernists and liberals, and its documents further twisted in postconciliar interpretations thereof. They see this Modernist influence as the result of ignoring papal warnings against such, most explicitly in Pope Pius X's "Pascendi Dominici Gregis".

Traditional Catholics see the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ which is united by the same Faith, same Sacraments, and the same Sacrifice that they see as having united Catholics from the Church's origins. However, contrary to popular belief, they do believe that practices can change, but only consistently with Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law; only in terms of quantity or quality, never of substance; only if it enhances the understanding and experience of the faith; and never if it harms souls or leads to sin or unbelief. They see as their "motto":

We are what you once were.
We believe what you once believed.
We worship as you once worshipped.
If you were right then, we are right now.
If we are wrong now, you were wrong then.

Traditional Catholics worship at: "indult" Masses (those "Tridentine" Masses offered with the permission of local Bishops); chapels of priestly societies, such as the
Society of St. Pius X (S.S.P.X.); other chapels run by traditional priestly orders; or chapels run by independent priests. Traditional Catholics, as opposed to a subset of "neo-conservative Catholics" who might simply prefer the "Tridentine" Mass, agree that traditional Catholicism is about much more than the Mass; in addition to the liturgy, they see as integral to Catholicism all of the Sacraments and preserving what has always been taught, what has been solemnly defined, and all those practices which have served to pass the Faith on from one generation to the next.

Attitude of most Roman Catholics towards Traditional Catholics

Traditional Catholics make up a minority of Roman Catholic members, though their numbers are growing, their seminaries are full, and the demand for "pre-Vatican II Catholicism" (which traditionalist Catholics would refer to as simply "Catholicism") is high. Their analysis is not widely shared by more "mainstream" Catholics. Most traditional Catholics see their situation as comparable to that of traditional Catholics during the Arian heresy when the majority of Bishops were Arian heretics. Catholics like Saint Athanasius (who was excommunicated by Pope Liberius) and St. Joan of Arc (who was also excommunicated) were vilified yet ultimately canonized. The Catholic perception is that eternal truth does not change and that what was taught 2,000 years ago, 1,000 years ago, and 50 years ago is still true today. Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos;, Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy, stated in a recent interview that "those who are attached to the old Rite are involved in expressing a legitimate religious ... sentiment that is ... rooted in the ancient Tradition..." and that they should be "protected in their right to ... express their faith and piety...." ¹ Nonetheless, the traditional expression of the faith is actively fought by many of the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy.

Traditional Catholic groups include, among others:

See also

Books supportive of the traditional Catholic movement

Footnotes

1 An Exclusive Interview with Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos,
The Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture, Vol. 13, No. 2, Spring 2004, pp. 5–6.

External links

'Traditional Catholic' links

Pro-Vatican II links