My Coined Term, “Radical Catholic Reactionary”: Clarifications

My Coined Term, “Radical Catholic Reactionary”: Clarifications April 2, 2018

Jim Brown: Don’t take this personally. But your use of the word “reactionary” seems designed to offend more often than to inform.

I hear that every time. And every time I have to dig up my post where I very carefully define it. And then people either don’t read it, or if they do, they no longer want to discuss it.

The main thing to know about my use of it, is that it was intended as an act of charity towards legitimate traditionalists, so they won’t be lumped in with this group. The term “radtrad” was very offensive to traditionalists, because they often misunderstood what was meant by it. So I coined my own term. I wrote at length about the definition as I construe it, and on why I coined the term.

You miss the point. You use the word in a way no one else does. No one is looking up your definition. Nor is it logical to expect people to know your peculiar use of a common phrase. People keep telling you about this for a reason. You essentially turn this argument into ad hominem attacks on those you disagree with by they way you use it. You undermine your own arguments.

Have you read my definition? When one coins a title, one expects that people will misunderstand it at first. It’s a new thing. So one explains. If people refuse to read the explanation, there’s little I can do.

No one writes more offensive words than the reactionaries do, against popes, good Catholics, bishops, Vatican II, saints (Pope John Paul II), the ordinary form of the Mass, etc. They have all kinds of names that they call orthodox Catholics. Then they take a good word, “traditionalist” and apply it to themselves.

But they can’t handle it, to simply be classified (accurately) as “reactionaries”?

You talk all about my use of the term without addressing the arguments I make about it: my reasoning. If you wanna talk about that, I’m here waiting.

Moreover, any term we come up with will inevitably offend the people it is applied to, because by nature, it’s a negative term to describe a very negative and destructive phenomenon.

So, for example, most terrorists don’t call themselves that. The bigot doesn’t call himself a bigot, or the whore or petty thief, liar, etc.

Jason MichaelWould you say the “Radical Catholic Reactionaries” = “Rad Trad” or “Radical Traditionalists”?

Neither. They’re not traditionalists. This is exactly why I coined the term: to get away from any association with traditionalists.

Thomas A. Hunt: According to Cambridge dictionary Dave is a reactionary for being opposed to societal change (for example the sexual revolution) (and so am I).

Yep; it all depends what the referent is. In terms of the sexual and secular revolutions I am a nonconformist, or in their eyes, “fundamentalist” and “reactionary.” Radical Catholic Reactionaries are so in terms of the Mind of the Church or ecclesiology.

Ambrose Little: I actually agree with pretty much all of this piece, seeing similar in my own experiences. 

I know you try to resolve the tension between your Pope Benedict XV quote and your own creation of a subgroup in Catholicism. I’m guessing that’s not entirely possible. 

[me] It’s a cynical, uncharitable attempt to create division in the Church and separate Catholic believers into a superior-subordinate relationship, with the reactionaries being the ones who “get it” and the “neo-Catholics” being dupes and fellow travelers of their liberal overlords in the lower hierarchies of the Church.

Wouldn’t you expect these same people to object to “radical Catholic reactionary” for similar reasons? If you are allowed to coin new labels that make sense to you, why not then can they do the same? To exemplify: 

“Radical Catholic reactionary” is a cynical, uncharitable attempt to create division in the Church and separate Catholic believers into a superior-subordinate relationship, with the neo-Catholics being the ones who “get it” and the “reactionaries” being dupes and fellow travelers of their “legalistic” overlords in the lower hierarchies of the Church.

I did read the whole thing, so if I’m missing how you resolved this, I apologize. 

I know you say your goal is charity, but I usually hear the same from these types. They believe their “corrections” are charity and that delineating what is (in their minds) truth from error is a supreme act of charity. 

I’m just wondering if despite our natural tendencies and desires to the contrary, perhaps Pope Benedict XV was right on this one. (Well except I think “Catholic Christian” is better than “Christian Catholic”. 

The problem is that those who adhere to an erroneous belief-system never like being described in a way that is inherently negative. No one likes the words “heretic” or “schismatic” or “cult” or “extremist” or “bigot” or “modernist” or “theological liberal,” etc. They’ll never like that, because they think they’re not in the category in the first place.

It’s the same with reactionary. They used to be called “ultra-traditionalist” or “radtrad” or (my own former term), “quasi-schismatic.” Now they don’t like “radical Catholic reactionary” even though it was designed to overcome the claim that I am saying they are schismatic, by including “Catholic”. They don’t like “reactionary” or “radical” because they fancy themselves simply orthodox and the rest of us as a bunch of liberals or flaming modernists.

So in the end it always comes down to the actual beliefs being characterized. What is their nature? Are they objectionable? Do they go against Holy Mother Church and the Bible? We have objective ways to determine these things. People will always be offended when told they are wrong. I just put up an article recently about how being an apologist is a lot like being an umpire. People are always unhappy with you because you say things that folks disagree with.

And so it is here. What else is new? I’ll be accused of hatred, etc., because they disagree with my conclusions. Neither is true. I don’t hate anyone, and my conclusions are correct, as far as I can determine that, by the standards of Bible, Church, and tradition.

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.


(originally 10-5-17)

Photo credit: image by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images [link]


"The arts have powerful influence. Every dope who sees one of these things considers themselves ..."

“Amadeus” & Historical Accuracy in Biopics
"I call BS on Ann’s argument. i must question if she has even read Dr. ..."

Exchange: Conservative vs. Liberal Biblical Scholarship
"I think that you are just a little too vigorous here about the problems of ..."

Exchange: Conservative vs. Liberal Biblical Scholarship
"Hello Dave,I think you might be interested in this quote of a letter which was ..."

Dialogue #7 w 1P5 Columnist Timothy ..."

Browse Our Archives