“Radtrad”: Origins, History, & Debates on Definition

“Radtrad”: Origins, History, & Debates on Definition April 11, 2020
Radtrad (or sometimes, Rad-TradRad Trad, etc.) is shorthand for “radical traditionalist”. For background (at least from my own perspective) on the definitions of both “traditionalist” and my newly coined term, radical Catholic reactionary (which I started using instead of radtrad on 3 August 2013), see the Introduction and Chapter One, respectively, of my 2012 book, Mass Movements.
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Presently, my interest is in the etymology of the term. I’ve only used it, myself, since (best I can determine) 17 May 2008:

Radtrad Thomas E. Woods, Jr. [who has since moderated his views quite a bit] and his comrade Chris Ferrara . . .the notoriously radtrad Seattle Catholic . . .

On 23 June 2008, I made it clear that I distinguished the radtrad from plain “traditionalists”:

. . . the good ole Remnant, (a radtrad organization: more radical than many — most? — “trads”) . . . The approach was entirely predictable, and perhaps gives indication of what we can expect to see a lot in the future from “trad” circles (or at least radtrad ones) . . .

On a somewhat ironic note, my friend David Palm, himself a mainstream “traditionalist,”  applied the term to an analysis of mine (i.e., conceptually), even though I had not yet been using the term at the time, as far as I can tell. In a piece posted on 12 September 2007 (“What is Traditional Catholicism?”), that I have pinned at the top of my “Traditionalism” web page, as a helpful definitional aid, David writes (my bolding):

[T]here are loud and bitter denunciations from certain parties. Cries of “schismatics”, “dissenters on the Right”, and “Rad Trads” abound in neo-conservative Catholic Internet sites and publications. One Catholic apologist [that’s me, folks!] has a three-fold test to try to separate what he would consider the good Catholic wheat from the “Rad-Trad” chaff. He asks:

1. Is the Novus Ordo Mass valid? 2. Is Vatican II a valid and binding Ecumenical Council? 3. Is Pope John Paul II a valid pope? [Now, I presume, he would update this to Benedict XVI.]

These are perfectly good and necessary questions. And I should be free from all suspicion of being a Rad Trad, since I answer yes to all three.

I would note that my thinking on the matter has evolved and expanded considerably since 2007, and since the late 90s, when I developed the above “litmus test” in order to distinguish what I called a radtrad from more mainstream “traditionalism.” In fact, articles like David’s above, were key in helping me to develop this thought, and to make more nuanced distinctions about the larger movement under consideration. Before then, back to 1997 or so, I used as a rough equivalent, the term (which I may have possibly coined, myself), quasi-schismatic. (I see that mainstream “traditionalist” Dr. Taylor Marshall used the term on 14 March 2013). Dr. Marshall also provides a nutshell definition of “radical traditionalism”:

In case you don’t know what “radical traditionalism” looks like, here’s a snap shot:

a) the denial of the Jewish holocaust

b) the outright denial of Vatican 2 as a valid council

c) rhetorical style of the Rorate Caeli blog

d) the embrace of isolationist sub-culture of Catholicism or “Amish Catholicism”

e) the denial the charismatic gifts and the charistmatic movement

f) sympathy for the Bp Williamson’s style of traditionalism

g) disdain for Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis

h) the belief that Latin Mass Catholics are “A Team” and Novus Ordo Catholics are “B Team”

i) Gnostic ecclesiology – that “traditionalists” form the one true invisible Catholic Church

I really don’t think that most people attending the Latin Mass are all that close to the radical traditionalism expressed in the points above. (“The Latin Mass and the Franciscans of the Immaculate,”  30 July 2013)

In this last-linked paper, I discovered that other Catholic apologists and writers used the term as well. I was not alone, by any stretch. I found it being used by apologists Jimmy Akin [link] and Mark Shea [link], as well as Catholic writers Steven D. Greydanus [link] and Daria Sockey [link]: all in pretty much the same sense that I use it myself. Thus, if the word is evolving (as all words do, and especially newly-coined words), it appears to be generally in the same direction, in terms of its use by credentialed Catholic writers.

There is nothing improper in any of this, as any etymologist (expert on the origin, history, and evolution of words) would quickly agree. Catholic writer Sandra Miesel [see Wikipedia bio] has claimed credit for the origin of radtrad. Miesel holds master’s degrees in biochemistry and medieval history from the University of Illinois. According to Wikipedia:

Since 1983, Miesel has written hundreds of articles for the Catholic press, chiefly on history, art, and hagiography. She wrote regularly for the now-defunct Crisis Catholic magazine and is a columnist for the diocesan paper of the Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut. Miesel is also a well-known speaker. She has spoken at religious and academic conferences, appeared on EWTN, and given numerous radio interviews.

She has co-authored [with Carl E. Olson] a book, The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code, a detailed critique of the popular novel based on her knowledge of Catholic history and teachings. Most recently, she has co-authored a book The Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children’s Fantasy with Catholic journalist and canon lawyer Pete Vere [and Carl Olson also]. The book, published by Ignatius Press, offers a detailed critique of Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy.

On 16 March 2004, Miesel wrote about coining radtrad (all bolding added):

As the person who coined the term RadTrad, what I had in mind was a certain complex of views exemplified by the pages of The RemnantCatholic Family NewsThe Fatima Crusader, and allied productions: anti-Semitic, Gallophilic, pro-Confederate, anti-American, and fond of conspiracy theories. (It’s all the Illuminati’s fault doncha know.) Their beau ideal of a ruler is Salazar, the former dictator of Portugal, since there’s no King of France available at present. The supreme contemporary example of a RadTrad writer is Solange Hertz who views electricity and even brick-making as inventions of the Devil.

Lists of supposed Jews among the early Bolshies can be found in the works of Fr. Denis Fahey, a founding father of RadTradism. I have a whole boxful of such books obtained from Catholic Treasures and Fr. Gruner’s Our Lady’s Book Service. (comment on a thread on Amy Welborn’s blog, Open Book, under the post, “Instead of . . .”)

Om Amy Welborn‘s site, Via Media (18 August 2005), Sandra clarified:

Trads and RadTrads are two very different species. I have no problem with the former at all but the latter are an ugly bunch.

She reiterated on 16 April 2008 at Ignatius Insight Scoop:

As the inventor of the term RadTrad, may I assert that it doesn’t mean simply preference for the Old Mass and traditional devotions. RadTradom carries a lot of other other social and political freight that has nothing to do with praying in Latin: Integrism, Gallophilia, anti-Semitism, Confederate sympathies, attraction for aristocracy and authoritarian forms of government, etc.

Interestingly, one of Miesel’s co-authors, Pete Vere (also co-author of Surprised by Canon LawMore Catholic Than the Pope: An Inside Look at Extreme Traditionalism, and Annulment: 100 Questions and Answers for Catholics), has recently claimed the same:

Regarding Dave’s use of the term “radtrad” . . ., I find it interesting how the term has expanded and morphed since I first coined it. But that was due to several people and not just Dave. Basically, in the old sandbox of traddyland way back when, I was just looking for something to counter the term “indulterer” (as I have repeated ad nauseum). I think it is fair, especially after the radtrads introduced the epithet “neo-Catholic” into the apologetics lexicon  . . (16 March 2013 on Terrye Newkirk’s Facebook page; also recorded in a paper of mine on the term)

Pete Vere wrote on a Facebook thread of mine, the following (on 17 March 2013), before I even asked him about it, almost at the same time I was writing this post (but he had read my mention of Miesel at the end of my recent paper):

With regards to the competing claims between Sandra M. and myself over who coined the term “radtrad”, she may in fact be correct. Around that time we were corresponding quite a bit on traditionalist issues, because of certain trends and controversies happening within the broader traditionalist movement online – particularly among the schismatic branches. This would eventually lead to the two of us discovering a mutual love of fantasy and children’s literature, which years later led to us co-authoring Pied Piper of Atheism for Ignatius Press when the whole Phillip Pullman controversy broke. Regardless, it is quite possible that I had picked it up from her during one of our earlier private exchanges.

And again, within an hour of the above:

The difficulty with on-line research is that most of the discussion took place within email distribution discussion groups that I moderated, first from my own computer (Tradition-X, FIAT) and then via CinGreg. It would later spread over to yahoo groups, but I was long gone by this time. I recall using the term “radical traditionalist” to distinguish from “papal traditionalist” back on Trad-X and FIAT. This would have been during the mid-90’s and was before I met Sandra. However, I do not recall using the shortened “radtrad” before meeting Sandra. So it is quite possible that she or Mark Shea shortened it since our initial conversations were three-way, if I recall correctly. On the other hand, I believe Sandra keeps email records of many of these things.

This is not to say that I did not use the shortened “radtrad” prior to meeting Sandra, only that I have no recollection of having done so. It is also possible that we both coined the term independently of each other and then merged definitions during our period of collaboration. One thing to remember is that back then there was little vocabulary for traditionalists of an Indult persuasion to draw upon when responding to criticism from radtrads. So those of us in the mix ended up coining a number of terms and expressions that later made it into popular trad usage.

The other thing is that the movement was so small and the workers so few, that we cross-pollinated many of our terms and ideas. What I can say is that I used the term “radical traditionalist” as far back as 1996 to counter the word “Indulterer” among radtrads, as well as to distinguish us “papal traditionalists” (another term I coined at the same time) from those advocating schism. The only reason I recall coining the term “radical traditionalist” is because I coined “papal traditionalist” as the same time.

. . . I really have not given much thought to how it is used today. I was more concerned about defining who we were as “papal traditionalists” than who were were not (i.e. “radical traditionalist”). So I mainly used “radical traditionalist” as a shield against radtrads and anti-trad conservative NOM’s, while my sword and main focus was the term “papal traditionalist”. 

However, if I recall correctly, Mark Shea and Sandra revitalized and re-defined the term “radical traditionalist” (and may have shortened it at this time as well) when the controversy was breaking about Bob Sungenis’s views on the Jews. From here it was picked up by St. Blog’s and came into wider usage among Catholics outside of the traditionalist movement. So we are talking sometime between 2003 and 20004 if I recall correctly.

At that point, both my apologetics and my canon law career were skyrocketing, as the idea of “papal traditionalism” was gaining widespread credibility and acceptance among bishops, and I was answering inquiries from canonists each day from other dioceses whose bishops wanted to offer or expand the indult, or who were wondering about the legitimacy of some obscure priest or trad group that had popped up in their diocese. So I kinda lost touch with the term “radical traditionalist” or “radtrad”.

I cannot really comment on how it is used today, except to say that I never objected to how Mark Shea or Sandra M. used the term. Nor have I followed how it has since morphed. 

I agree (apart from a few quibbles) with Mark’s spot-on analysis from a 2010 article (my bolding):

It is only when docile Catholics are on the receiving end of this aggressive contempt that we will sometimes use the term “Rad Trad” to describe the aggressor. But we do not mean that to refer to all self-described Traditionalists. We only mean it to refer to those Traditionalists who attempt to reduce the Faith to their hothouse subculture and to exclude those outside it from the dignity of being hailed as fellow Catholics in full obedience to Holy Church. We do not apply it to those who happen to have Traditionalist sensibilities, but who do not suggest, insinuate or say that Catholics docile to the Magisterium are second-class “neo-Catholics”.

Mark Shea also defers to Sandra Miesel as the originator. In a comment on my Facebook page (20 March 2013), he noted, in his inimitable fashion:

I borrowed the term from Sandra. These days I prefer “Urine and Vinegar Wing of Traditionalism” to distinguish them from sane and happy Trads.

There is a third claimant, however: Catholic apologist Scott Windsor (who often uses the nick, “CathApol”). Writing on his own site on 9 May 2011, Windsor states (my bolding):

I also fully understand what you mean about the “Rad Trads” (I coined that phrase years ago) as I have had some ties to such “Rad Trads” – though I was never in their camp. Their position is just too untenable to logically stand.

Later on the same thread, on 13 September 2012, he added:

I’m sure Armstrong got the “Rad Trad” terminology from me.  (grin)

When I asked Scott about the origins of radtrad, he wrote below in the combox (25 March 2013):

As for me and my part in this, I am not sure when I first used the term “RadTrad.” I know when I used it, I had never heard of anyone else using it. So, while I claimed to be the person who “coined the term,” I am not real concerned with proving that was the fact, so unless something comes out, I too yield to Sandra.

I definitely got the term from someone, since I wasn’t using it before 2008, and its use online goes back to at least 2002, as I will demonstrate below. Pete Vere wrote on my Facebook page, on 18 March 2013:

I apologize, but I had forgotten completely about Scott Windsor. Given that he was a big contributor to early discussions and debates back in the mid-to-late 90’s, I could easily recognize his claim to having coined the term “radtrad” as well. Regardless of whether it was Sandra, Scott or myself who coined the term, I think it is clear that the term goes back almost twenty years and that it was coined by traditionalists loyal to Rome (or their sympathizers) as a shield against those who attacked our status as traditionalists.

And this brings us to a central point that I vainly tried to make to one of my out-of-control, misguided accusers a few days ago: the term is used precisely in order to distinguish between respectable, “magisterial”-type “traditionalists” and those who — at least overwhelmingly in tenor and tone, if not canonically in schism –, act in very different ways. The intention (I can’t stress this highly enough!) is to differentiate between the two, so as to make clear that genuine “traditionalists” are not in schism or anywhere near it. As such, it is as much an act of charity (in this regard) as it is slightly tongue-in-cheek and biting-but-permissible social commentary (as directed against its recipient). Pete couldn’t have put it any better than he did. And a lot of the information I compile below confirms this, rather strikingly.

Some Internet History of Radtrad 
 [bolding added]

F. John Loughnan (10 July 2002):

Personally, I believe that the RadTrad schism is “smallfry” compared to the potential schism of the radical apparitionists.

Pete Vere added:

Dave, another thought on your article. John Loughnan, Bill Grossklas and I were very close collaborators from 1997 to 2002. In fact we communicated by email and by phone weekly, and sometimes daily, during this period. Thus if John Loughnan was using the term radtrad as far back as 2002, as you demonstrated, I know I would have been using the term as well.

Lane Core, Jr. (23 October 2002):

. . . the main problem was blockheaded and/or vitriolic anti-Catholic Protestants; at about the time I got out, the RadTrads were just starting to make their way in.

Christopher Blosser, at Against the Grain, wrote (11 April 2003):

James Likoudis of Catholics United for the Faith published a blistering review of the recent ‘radtrad’ polemic The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church, by Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (Remnant Press, 2002).

And on 21 September 2003:

I’ve referred to Sandra Meisel’s article Swinging at Windmillsa number of times in blogging on the radtrads.

And 11 October 2003:

In her appearance to three children at Fatima, Our Lady requested that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart by the Pope and the bishops of the world. It is a common allegation among the RadTrads — among them CAI’s Robert Sungenis, Christopher Ferrara, and the suspended priest Fr. Nicholas Gruner 1 — that the Pope never followed through in said consecration, and is complicit in a conspiracy to cover up “The Third Secret”.

And again on 1 November 2003:

Bill Cork posted recently on “Ecumenical Jihad”, referring to a book by Peter Kreeft, a philosophy professor at Boston U. and Catholic apologist. The title of the book is apt to send some religious factions into hysterics (radtrads at the word “ecumenical”, liberals at the word “jihad”), but if you glance beyond the cover the proposition is interesting: a united moral front of Christians and Muslims against the oncoming tide of godless secularists”who acknowledge no law above human desire and all the religions of the world.” (Incidentally, Mark Shea invoked Kreeft back in January 2003 in a plea for anti-Catholics and radtrads to cease “niggling about niceties of some point of doctrine” and come together over what counts).

And yet again on 10 September 2005:

The issue of virulent anti-semitism as an obstacle to reconciliation was addressed on this blog back in 2003, as well as by Bill Cork (with respect to another on the radical fringe); it’s presence among “radtrads” has been copiously documented by F. John Loughnan.

Apolonio Latar (31 May 2003):

Debate with a Rad-Trad

This was a debate between a Radical Traditionalist and me. “Secret Agent Man” (16 August 2003):

The reason Kooky RadTrads don’t twig to this issue is that, deep down, they’re Calvinists.

This Rock (Catholic Answers), September 2003 issue (p. 10:  “The Apologist’s Eye”; unknown author; possibly Jimmy Akin):

Mad Rad Trads For years, Pope John Paul II has been called evil by the “radical Traditionalist” (a.k.a. “rad trad”) folks at NovusOrdoWatch.org because of—well, the Novus Ordo Mass, among other things. So when the Pope announced that a Latin indult Mass would be celebrated at St. Mary Major, the folks at Novus Ordo Watch were full of Christian charity and gratitude, right? Well, no.

Jeff Miller (“The Curt Jester”), 18 February 2004:

RAD TRAD = Radical Traditionalist. Those that have joined groups like the SSPX that believe that [the]  Church has gone astray since Vatican II and some believe that there is no current valid pope or that the pope is someone other that John Paul II. This is not to be confused with traditionalists like those who have a love for the Latin Mass and wish that it was made more available. The major difference is obedience to the Church.

Ben Douglass, himself a “traditionalist,” wrote the following article, with a tongue-in-cheek title that indicates something about the ongoing evolution of our term; dated  28 January 2005:

“I Make a Terrible Radtrad (On Communion in the Hand)”

By 2005, even one of the most prominent anti-Catholic apologists used the term. James White wrote (22 June 2005):

I do not trust Bob Sungenis. His credibility is shot with me, and with anyone else who has followed his tortured path to his present position, and truly, what is accomplished by vindicating Reformed theology against someone who was once with Harold Camping, and once a Presbyterian, and once a member of the International Churches of Christ, and now off on his own in the rad/trad camp somewhere, who may well be who knows where next year?

Jimmy Akin (August 2006):


This is further corroborated by the fact that his father is a known anti-Semite and that anti-Semitic views are common in the Rad Trad circles in which Mr. [Mel] Gibson apparently moves.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker (15 April 2008):

The American Catholic Church is also highly polarised. At one extreme are the ‘rad traddies’. They argue for the Latin Mass and support schismatic groups opposed to modernising the Church. These radical traditionalists want to turn back the clock to some golden age before the Second Vatican Council. They live in a black and white world where anyone outside their group is a damnable moderniser. They come across as angry, self-righteous kooks. . . . In between the ‘rad traddies’ and ‘rad trendies’ are the largest group which my friends refer to as ‘AmChurch.’

He clarified this on 8 May 2008 on the New Liturgical Movement site (in an article by editor Shawn Tribe):

No, I am not against the Latin Mass, but against the extreme traditionalists who rubbish Vatican II, support cranky right wing conspiracy theories and take a sedevacantist or semi-sedevacantist position. That’s why I referred to them as ‘Rad Traddies’ …

Those who support and encourage the Latin Mass within the full life of the church as promoted and permitted by the Church I have no problem with. He wrote again on 30 January 2010:

When I compare two groups of Catholics: the rad trad crowd and the vast hordes of AmChurch ordinary Catholic folks I have to ask what my impression is of them as people. As a priest I get far more negativity, criticism, sour self righteousness, suspicion and downright ugliness from the traddies than the trendies. I also get far more appreciation, respect, good humor, and open positivity from the trendies than the traddies.

See also his excellent summation and rationale: “Must We Call Them Rad Trads?” (1 August 2013) Michael Liccione (9 June 2008):

rad-trad converts [title]

Scott Windsor (12 January 2010):

I was recently castigated for using the term “Rad Trad” on Patrick Madrid’s blog [not by Pat himself, but by someone else] but I assume it was due more to a lack of understanding of my intention than anything else.  I was accused of “sweeping generalization” and “put(ting) down those who love Tradition.”  Perhaps we should all try to be clearer in the terms we use.  I suppose I could have included a bit of an explanation when I posted that – and in hindsight, I believe I would have had I known the way some would respond.  Here’s my initial comment from Patrick Madrid’s blog:

Catholics of all flavors need to be conscious of the potential scandal in attacking fellow professing Catholics in public. I believe some of the “Rad Trads” don’t really care – thinking they are the only “true Catholics” – but those of us who ARE true Catholics must be careful not to cause even more scandal by making public accusations against other professing Catholics. “Rad Trads” may be “true Catholics themselves, just misguided by a zeal for tradition which overlooks the “novo cedat ritui” (they may recall singing this in Benediction). In their zeal – they may be causing even more harm to the Church, but we should not increase that harm in attacking them. Let us present the fullness of the truth as God continues to reveal through His Church.

So what IS a “Rad Trad?”  Well, as the “label” implies – it is someone who is not merely a Traditionalist, but is a “Radical Traditionalist.”  An old Latin phrase goes:  “in medio virtus stat” – (in the middle, virtue stands).  One has to be careful when embracing the extremist in any movement.  Traditionalism is a GOOD thing in the Catholic Faith!  However, extremists or “radicals” who go around blasting anything new and/or anything post Vatican II are doing more harm than good in the Church.

Under fire, on the same day on Pat Madrid’s blog, Scott clarified and defended his usage (first bolding and also asterisks his own; subsequent bolding is mine):

Folks, am a Traditionalist! I support the Traditional movement, and have since I converted to Catholicism back in 1988! Please don’t misread me, I do NOT “put down those who love Tradition!” “Rad-Trads” are those who would throw out the baby with the bathwater, as if – if it is not in Latin, it’s Modernism. Be real folks, there are some “Rad-Trads” out there who do indeed give the rest of us Traditionalists a black-eye. Now I, for one, would not shed a single tear if Pope Benedict XVI abrogated the New Order of the Mass (Novus Ordo Missae) and reverted the entire Latin Church back to the Traditional Latin Mass – but I am also not one who proclaims the Novus Ordo is invalid and/or that priests ordained after the Rite of Ordination changed (early 1970’s? – I don’t have the date handy) are not valid priests. There ARE those in the extreme of the Traditionalist movement who DO make these claims – and I have engaged and been summarily condemned by them because I have ANY tolerance for anything post Vatican II. I am of the mindset that IF there is ANY defects of the “novo cedat ritui” – that “praestet fides supplementum” (faith supplements). . . . I hope that helps clear up what I was saying. As I said, I do not oppose Traditionalism. I support bringing more and more Latin back into the Mass – as Vatican II proclaimed as well, “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” I also participate more frequently in the extra-ordinary rite (as it is now called) than I do the novus ordo rite.

Mark Shea was lied about by someone on the same thread, in exactly the way that I was lied about, myself and turned into a straw man to pummel, a few days ago, by a good half-dozen people or more: as if I am somehow opposed to Latin Mass or the Extraordinary Form. Mark replied as follows (14 January 2010):

Mark Shea’s entire online existence revolves around complaining about Catholics who attend the traditional Latin Mass. False. You are either ignorant of the fact that my son often attends a Latin Mass or you are just another liar. I have no problem whatsoever with the Latin Mass. I have a problem with so-called Traditionalists who treat brother Catholics as second-class Catholics and half-breeds.

His latter sentiment was, in fact, the reason for the initial post (11 January 2010) that led to the thread above, by Patrick Madrid. While not using or endorsing the term radtrad (which Mark often uses in battling the above mindset, as shown in one of my links above), Pat stated in full agreement with Mark (and with what is my own view):

Mark Shea throws down the hammer on those who impugn Catholics (such as Karl Keating, myself, and others) as “Neo-Catholics,” pointing out that this epithet is simply a thought-stopping term used by some against those who, as Mark pegs it, are not “sufficiently bitter” toward Pope John Paul and Vatican II. While Mark and I may disagree on a variety of issues, I think he’s right on target in his analysis of the connotations implicit in the snarky “neo-Catholic” put down. Frankly, his push-back on this particular issue is overdue, and I am happy to see it. Thanks, Mark. You said it better than I could have.

Patrick Madrid clarifies in a comment (13 January 2010), that he, too, is a “traditionalist” (in the broadest sense), who attends the Tridentine Mass:

Just to clarify, as a life-long Catholic, I personally LOVE the Traditional Latin Mass and try to attend it whenever the opportunity arises (there’s a bit more on that in my bio..). I am not a party to any antagonism toward anyone because they, like I, love the Traditional Mass. My purpose in drawing attention to this particular comment of Mark’s is that I believe he correctly identifies the problems surrounding mis-labeling certain Catholics as “neo-Catholics.”

Same here. As I’ve stated till I am blue in the face, I have attended Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) for 22 years at my parish, St. Joseph’s in Detroit. My parish also offers the Tridentine Mass sometimes, for example, at Midnight Mass at Christmas. I have attended them. They’re beautiful and highly moving. Our parish cluster is one of only three or so that offer the Tridentine Mass in metro Detroit (one of the parishes, every week). There is no hostility at all (zero, zip, zilch, nada, nuthin’!) to Latin or the Old Mass here.

I advocated Pope Benedict’s position of freedom to worship as one pleases for my entire Catholic life, which is now about 22 1/2 years. I always receive Holy Communion on the tongue, kneeling at an altar rail (in my parish), I detest and have often roundly condemned in my writing, all violations of liturgical rubrics, massive overuse of eucharistic ministers, etc. It’s not difficult at all to ascertain what I believe (me, with my nearly 2,500 blog posts). Ever heard of a search engine, folks? Hello!

Patrick Coffin, host of Catholic Answers Live, wrote in the article, “Meet the Mad-Trads,” (12 July 2013):

On the Friday, May 31, edition of Catholic Answers Live, guest Tim Staples and I tackled the phenomenon of radical Traditionalism. The concept is fairly straightforward, typified by groups like the Society of St. Pius X (and the two splinter groups who had no choice but to flee the SSPX’s creeping liberalism), the sedevacantists (those who believe that the last legitimate pontiff was Pius XII), and others on the ecclesial far right who have broken communion with the Roman pontiff for their own sundry reasons. . . . Tim Staples sharply contrasted a traditional expression of Catholicism with those who willingly break communion with the Church. . . . These people are not Rad-Trads outside the Church, they’re Mad-Trads inside the Church.

What is a Mad-Trad? Well, if you accept the norms of the Second Vatican Council, to a Mad-Trad you’re a “Neo-Catholic,” a misguided liberal; you know, like Mother Angelica and Blessed John Paul II. . . . Sadly, some of these individuals have already left the Church, at least inwardly. . . . Because of the intensity of the reactions to the May 31 show, we are going to revisit radical Traditionalism on Monday, August 12, again with Tim Staples.

A notable exception to the general trend of the evolution of the word radtrad is a man who may be considered  the father of the modern Catholic apologetics movement,  Karl Keating. Writing on a public thread on Terrye Newkirk’s Facebook page on 15 March 2013, he stated:

Usually it’s the Traditionalists who collapse into name-calling. . . . I have an extensive vocabulary. If I want to indicate my disdain for someone, I don’t have to fall back on slang such as “radtrad” or “Fundie” or “Prot.”

Likewise, staff apologist at Keating’s Catholic Answers, Michelle Arnold, wrote on 20 February 2013 on that organization’s site:

Some years ago, I contributed posts to my colleague Jimmy Akin’s blog. One of the more controversial posts I wrote was Single RadTrad Catholic Seeks Same [Feb. 2006], in which I talked about an online dating site for single Catholic Traditionalists. (Nota bene: Following global upgrades to Jimmy’s site over the years, the original byline indicating my authorship of the post was inadvertently altered, but the post was indeed written by me and not by Jimmy.) Quite a few Catholic Traditionalists, whom I will admit I might have treated more kindly by not using the faddish moniker “RadTrad” that was popular at the time, were outraged that I criticized a dating site that catered specifically to their desire to find a likeminded spouse.

These are the only critics of note (apart from the reactionaries themselves) that I could find (and I looked very hard). Perhaps they are correct (this is not an absolute thing in the first place), but in any event, words evolve (see the study of etymology) and develop as time goes on, and definitions are determined by actual usage, not preordained proclaimed “dictionary dogmas.” That itself would be another long discussion (and I love it, myself).

We have clearly seen from the above survey how the new term radtrad (originated c. 1995) is evolving: overwhelmingly in one direction, with remarkable agreement across the board. I would happily engage anyone on this topic, provided it is serious, constructive, respectful, amiable discussion (in other words, very unlike what I was subjected to over the last weekend).

(originally posted on 3-18-13; rev. 8-1-13 and 8-8-13)

Photo credit: Tynemouth Priory, England (13th-14th century). Photo by Michael Hanselmann: 2006 [Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license]



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