Friday, August 2, 2013

Letting Us Stand Together

The dicussion surrounding my editorial at Catholic Lane generated a lot more discussion than I ever would have hoped or wished for. There have been a lot of varied responses, some more valuable than others. I'd like to call the attention of my audience to one of these responses in particular, by Fr. Dwight Longenecker.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let me start by saying one thing. I don't want people to "debate" the term. Right now, our demeanor should be that of listening to our brethren, not looking to refute them. Fr. Longenecker's words aren't as iron clad as some of the less satisfying responses, and he identifies real concerns that we should be answer him on.

We should also realize a potential ally when there is one. He isn't condemning modernists and liberals as a way to check the boxes off. He condemns them because he agrees with us that they are a very serious threat. He also gives us a lot of suggestions which are great at the end. In short, he tells all of us loyal sons of the Church: be yourselves, only better. Let's join him in doing that, and encouraging everyone to do that. So if you are going to disagree with him, please do so, yet do so in a manner befitting an ally. 

I would note that Fr. starts off by I think giving a hint he isn't dead-set on the term. He isn't defending it because it is something he has to do as part of his job. He feels there are valid reasons, some of which I will try to interact with. Father begins by quoting someone in a blog combox, and states that this is why he uses the phrase "radtrad", he doesn't want those loyal sons of the Church to be grouped with him. He hopes the term offers praise to those loyal Catholics who aren't like those morons, and he is afraid that without this term, people are likely to confuse us with these trolls.

I sympathize with these concerns, but in the end I think we can do better. The only time no distinction will be made between those teaching things contrary to the Catholic Faith and those faithfully following the Church is when we all decide to stop condemning error. As the good father realizes, traditionalists nowadays make these distinctions all the time, since he talks about the traditionalist "which is made up of a majority of good, faithful, well intentioned Catholics who are helping the whole church in the “reform of the Reform” and are doing so with intelligence, wit, patience, obedience and faith." So we already do this, and we don't need the "radtrad" label to do it. So why continue doing so?

I also think the parts where his post is the most moving is where it argues (though one may not realize it) for dropping the label even more. When speaking about the need to go out and spread the gospel (including inside the Church), he tells us to:
Criticize abuse and wrong doing, but accept criticism when it comes your way. Your critic is often your best friend. Furthermore, if you expect other Catholics to listen to you and learn from you be prepared to listen to them and learn from them. You may heartily dislike their ways of worship and truly believe they are wrong, wrong, wrong, but the Lord might have some things for you to learn from those Catholics who seem to be your enemy. Are you humble and open enough to listen and learn?
As a critic in this instance, and hence his for the moment best friend, allow me to say this. How can we reach out to people when we have completely alienated them? That is what "radtrad" does. If he wants to pull people away from the fringe, he has to open his arms to them. Yet who is going to go to someone who views you a "radtrad?" How many people are going to go to the Latin Mass when they are told beforehand "you are a modernist Neo-Catholic until you worship as we do?" That attitude existed in a lot of us, and we dropped it, not just to draw people to our cause, but because we became better Catholics. 

I also will submit another principle: most people don't actually know any traditionalists. We are a small group. The "radical" are even smaller. Most people will learn about traditionalists based on what they hear from others, such as from internet bloggers. Now Fr. Longenecker is a lot better at this than some of his other colleagues. He points to traditionalists, and defends a lot of the things we like. Yet most people aren't doing what he is. When was the last time Catholic Answers had a good loyal traditionalist on their show to talk about anything traditionalist related? For those people who spend their time kvetching about "radtrads" as if they are some dire threat to the life of the Church, when was the last time you reached out to a faithful traditionalist and viewed them a brother/sister? How often do those bloggers link to good trads, other than to say "these guys are awesome, they aren't like those vile tax collectors who just suck!" The good father feels he is paying us respect by offering that distinction. I only ask him to go into any Latin Mass chapel, and ask those loyal sons of the Church what they think of the term "radtrad." Far too often we have been constantly tarred with that label by people who should know better. We turn the other cheek and kep soldiering on (even when the adversary whispers I told you so!), yet we have the right to protest, and protest we will. This isn't going away. We will continue to fight with our holiness, but also our calls for our friends across the way to meet us halfway. 

In his post, I read a parent proud of his spiritual children, even if we don't do things exactly like he does. Yet sometimes a parent needs to learn when to stop protecting the child. You withdraw that protection not so he can fail, but so he can flourish! So please Father, drop the protection of the phrase "radtrad", and let us stand with you, side by side in building up the Church of God.


  1. "When was the last time Catholic Answers had a good loyal traditionalist on their show to talk about anything?"

    Patrick Madrid attends, I believe, either the TLM or Eastern Rites. He's on there all the time.

  2. Terrye Newkirk used to be the editor of "This Rock" for heaven's sake . . .

  3. Taylor Marshall also:

    It's easy enough to search their forum. I suggest you do that next time before making sweeping statements. :-)

  4. Okay, that was a bit sloppy.

    What I should have said was "when was the last time they invited a loyal traditionalist on to talk about certain things traditionalists bring to the table, as a counter to the "radtrad" stuff."

    I said that in their forums in response to the original "madtrad" stuff in the official comments section of the article, and was a lot better received.

    Mea cupla, and I mean that. (Will direct people to check the comments for that mea cupla when I get home tonight.)


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