What Is Traditionalist Catholicism?

Article excerpt

Not long ago the author Kurt Vonnegut wrote about "the devout Roman Catholic Mel Gibson, who, as an act of piety, has just made a fortune with a movie about how Jesus was tortured" There's only one problem with Vonnegut's perhaps well-taken comment about the creator of The Passion of the Christ: Gibson is not a mainstream Roman Catholic.

Gibson belongs to the Catholic traditionalist movement, a loose network of somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 people who worship according to the Latin Tridentine Mass (the way Mass was said pre-Vatican II) and have revived traditional Catholic devotions and practices. In an effort to create mini-utopias of traditional Catholic culture and restore a brand of Catholicism united under the values of authority, obedience, absolute truth, fidelity to traditional doctrine, and defiance of an immoral culture, they have established chapels, schools, seminaries, and religious orders around the country.

Traditionalists feel compelled to separate themselves from a Roman Catholic Church they believe has departed from the truth. The reforms of the Second Vatican Council, especially the abandonment of the Tridentine Mass, presented traditionalists with what they saw as an inescapable problem. …