Radical Traditionalists

by Steve Ray on August 7, 2007

Steve:  I know that there are movements out there, many of whom I've probably never heard of, but this one has me stumped. Who ARE these "anti-Vatican II" folks?  What can you tell me about them?  Have you run into them before?

peterkeys.jpgDear Friend:  The radical traditionalists reject the Pope and anything after Vatican II which they consider an illigitimate council. They often sound convincing, but they are schismatics at their core. They have abandoned the Church and the Shepherd that Jesus appointed over his Church — the Pope. Many of them have appointed their own popes. It is sad and I can sometimes understand why they think as they do, but bottom line they are wrong and schismatics.
I learned long ago that any time you join an organization, a company, a political party, a church or anything else — there are always lunatics on the extreme right and the extreme right. The best policy is to identify the extreme right and the extreme left and stay as far away from both of them as you can. In that case, you are in the heart of the Church, right where Jesus wants you to be. 
These radical "traditionalists" have no joy. Notice any time you meet them. They are characterized by two things: they've lost their joy and the only thing they can talk about is the problems, Vatican II and Latin Masses. They are like piano players that can only play one note and it gets old real fast.
You can never go wrong staying close and loyal to the Pope and shunning schisms with all your energy. Follow the Pope and you can't go wrong.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Randy August 7, 2007 at 10:27 AM

I don’t think we should stay away from extremes. That is a bad way to make choices. You need to follow Jesus. The best way is to follow the leaders He has put in place for you. That is the pope and the bishops. The liberals or the traditionalists might end up being right on some issues so to count on them being wrong is not safe. It also makes it hard to be charitable towards them.

We need to always be on our guard because a spirit of complaining about church leaders can lead to schism when it becomes full grown. I know I need to check myself all the time and make sure I am respecting them even when I disagree. As a pastor’s son, I have seen up close how being shot at from all side makes leading a church much harder than it needs to be.

Alexander August 7, 2007 at 3:48 PM


You are right to point out the ultra-rad-trads in such a matter. But a distinction must be made between them and the real traditionalists out there such as myself.

Real traditionalists will obey authority but may disagree with it (but of course not on matters of faith or morals when infallibly defined).

For example, the new Mass is valid, it is not intrinsically evil and can be celebrated traditionally but we real traditionalists will see it as a mistake. It is a break with the originally developed liturgy that has been handed down to us for centuries; it waters down prayers, eliminates others and removes many beautiful sings and symbolisms. It is inferior to the Traditional liturgical rites that have developed properly such as the classical roman rite (TLM) and many Eastern rites.

However, real traditionalists will not work to get people to disobey authority on this matter. We hope that current ordinary rite will be improved and reformed, but we also hope that one say it will cease to exist because we feel it was not a proper reform to begin with.

Another example is that real traditionalists will not reject Vatican II but will strive to interpret the hard parts in light of Tradition. It is no secret that the council contains ambiguity that was put into the texts either through compromises or purposely for later manipulation (this has all been documented from many authoritative sources on many different ends- liberals, conservatives, etc.). A real Traditionalist will see that the Second Vatican Council has problematic language sometimes but will strive to interpret it correctly by reading pre-Vatican II documents and produce a harmony.

With all that said, I hope you can see a difference and that real traditionalists have valid concerns that can be backed up logically and theologically.

Steve Ray August 8, 2007 at 12:58 AM

Hello Alexander:
Thanks for your comments and your measured tone. I appreciate it. I do understand the difference and it is a huge difference. That is why I refer to “them” as “radical.” They have gone over the edge. I have a good number of friends who are “Traditionalists” == though it can be a tricky term — and still work with good faith in honoring the Pope and accepting Vatican II even if they have problems with some of it. It is the Rad Trads that are the real the problem. Thanks for your comments.

Light of the East August 19, 2007 at 11:32 PM

Dear Steve et al —

One of the most confusing things that I have had to deal with in my conversion process has been the issue of “Traditional Catholicism”. What has made this so confusing for me is the behavior of the hierarchial leaders in the Vatican. The writings of the “Rad Trads” (as you and others term them) could be dismissed as so much fluff and nonsense if A) they weren’t backed up by the odd behavior of the Vatican and B) if they didn’t correspond with the writings of pre Vatican II popes who were clearly orthodox in their Catholicism.

How do I justify, for instance, the allowance of Hindu “priests” in the Chapel at Fatima to offer their demon possessed prayers? The Holy Scriptures state quite clearly that the gods of the pagans are demons. Catholic cathedrals, parishes, and chapels have within them a marvelous treasure — the Lord Himself in the Tabernacle. How offensive to He Who said “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” to allow such blasphemies to take place in the very place where He alone should reign as King! How do I justify such things? There simply is no justification, and no amount of exegesis, excuse making, or inventive writing can justify actions which previous popes condemned.

When I see such behavior from men in authority who should know better, do you understand that it lends a certain credibility to that which the “rad trads” are writing? And this is but one of many, many such things which create serioius concerns in my heart.

Yes, I wish to be non-schismatic, obedient to authority over me, and a full and good Catholic, but do I so so at the price of turning a blind eye to behaviors and statements which contradict 1900 years of Catholic teaching and praxis? If prevous popes wrote extensively against the very practices, behaviors, and writings which our current hierarchy are promoting, then who am I supposed to believe? There is a serious disconnect taking place somewhere, and I have the deep and profound suspicion that it is not in those popes who ruled the Church prior to Vatican II.

My recourse is, of course, to pray for these men, who are in authority over me, but who I believe are promoting error. I do not wish to be another Luther. When I joined the Church, I pledged my fideltity to Her. But something is desparately wrong right now, and yet, when I point out these things, trying to be as gracious as possible, I am referred to as a “trouble maker” “schismatic” etc.

I hope I never am put in the situation where I am invited to one of these Novus Ordo hootenannies where pagans are invited to pray, for I know I will permanently mark myself in the eyes of many by my outright refusal to participate in such, even if the Holy Father himself invites me. Dear sirs, I know the scriptures, I know what previous popes have said about such false ecumenism (no matter how you try to defend it) and I must take Christ’s side first as the only True and Living God, before whom all other “gods” of all other religions are false and demonic frauds.

May God grant me the grace to do what is right, and at the same time, to be charitable in disagreement — a fine line to walk indeed!

Brother Ed

Pax Christi May 17, 2020 at 12:29 AM

Brother Ed. !2 years since your post. The Church has continued to shrink. The lack of reverence in the Novus Ordo is rampant. I am now attending the TLM and will never stop, even if it means we go underground.

STEVE RAY HERE: The Traditional Latin Mass is a great treasure of the Church. It can and should be celebrated in the Church. However, in saying this I do not denounce the Novus Ordo Mass which is also a Mass of the Church and the TLM as long as it is not a denial of Vatican II and the chair of Peter. Good and bad popes come and go, but an inadequate pope does not nullify the chair of Peter in the see of Rome. Enjoy the TLM, clean up and make relevant again the Novus Ordo Mass.

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