Traditional Catholic


Traditional Catholic is a term used to describe those individuals who, despite claiming to be Roman Catholics, reject (for instance as modernistic) some or all of the reforms instituted after the Second Vatican Council, especially the Novus Ordo Missae, that is the revised rite of Mass. They are to be distinguished from so-called conservative Catholics who may merely prefer the older Tridentine Mass, codified as the "Mass for all Times" by Pope Pius V's Quo Primum which stated, "We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used."

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 to 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 are not the same as the conservatives of yesteryear, indeed it could be said that they are not the same as Catholics of yesteryear. This odd situation is well illustrated by the case of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Cardinal Ratzinger is today labelled "ultra-conservative," but in actual fact the Cardinal was a radical leftist theologian during the Second Vatican Council and he has admitted himself that he has not moved to the right in four decades, but that the Church and the world has 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 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. Some of these sedevacantist groups have elected popes of their own.

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 indeed contained errors themselves. Foremost among these perceived errors are:
a new collegiality which they claim has weakened the papacy and made Bishops' conferences a veritable "second earthly head" of the Church. Traditional Catholics see this as contradicting Pope Leo XIII's Satis Cognitum the documents of Vatican I, and other documents and teachings. Ironically, in spite of traditional Catholics' firm support for the papacy, they often accuse mainstream "conservative Catholics" of an attitude bordering on papolatry (pope worship) rooted in what they see as the latter's limited understanding of papal infallibility and the nature of Christian obedience. They see "conservative Catholics'" as misunderstanding the documents of Vatican I and the scholastic understanding of true obedience as characterized by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, II-II-104.

  • a new ecclesiology that they claim doesn't equate the Catholic Church with Christ's Church, but which states that Christ's Church "subsists in" the Catholic Church. Traditional Catholics claim this is a contradiction of Pope Pius XII's Mystici Corporis Christi among other papal documents.
  • a new focus on "the dignity of man" which they claim ignores original sin and the need of supernatural grace, and which they claim has led to a sort of Utopianism that sees peace as possible without recognizing the Kingship of Christ. Traditional Catholics see this supposed attitude, and teachings rooted in it, as contradicting Pope Pius XI's Quas Primas, Pope Leo XIII's Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, Pope Pius X's Our Apostolic Mandate (Notre Charge Apostolique), and other papal and conciliar documents.
  • a new "ecumenism" that has as its goal a "unity" that traditional catholics claim doesn't require conversion to the Catholic faith. Traditional Catholics see this as contradicting Sacred Scripture, Pope Pius XI's Mortalium Animos, Pope Pius XII's Humani Generis and other documents.
  • a new attitude toward ecclesiastical tradition which has led to what they see as dangerous changes in Catholic practices, the liturgy, and the Church's pastoral orientation. Traditional Catholics see this as a contradiction of the Fourth Anathema of the Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea and other papal and conciliar documents.
  • a new attitude toward novelty which they claim had been unheard of in the Catholic Church prior to the Second Vatican Council. Traditional Catholics see this as contradicting the Saints, Doctors and Popes of the Church prior to Pope John XXIII; the papal oath, written by Pope St. Agatho ca. A.D. 681 and taken by all Popes from Pope St. Agatho himself to Pope Paul VI, inclusive; Pope Pius X's Motu Proprio Sacrorum antistitum (an oath taken by all priests prior to the Council); Pope Gregory XVI's Mirari Vos; the Fourth Anathema of the Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea; and other papal and conciliar documents.
  • a new Paschal theology that they see as de-emphasizing the Sacrifice of the Mass and which they claim leads the faithful to believe that it is Christ's Resurrection, not the Blood shed by His Sacrifice on the Cross, that saves. Traditional Catholics see the Novus Ordo as being a fruit of this "Paschal theology" as it is marked by such things as the replacement of Altars with tables, a focus on "community" rather than the offering of the Son to the Father, and so on. They see this orientation as contradicting Scripture and Encyclicals such as Pope Pius XII's Mediator Dei

Tradional Catholic groups

Society of St Pius X ( priestly society, founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Society of St Pius V - Sedevacantist Group
Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen ( - Sedevacantist Group
True Catholic Church ( - Sedevacantist Group