Quite simply, traditional Catholicism is the set of Catholic beliefs and principles that the Catholic faithful have always practiced throughout the ages. After the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, a number of reforms swept through the Church, impacting almost everything. The mass was substantially changed (masses were for example always conducted in Ecclesiastical Latin; it was after Vatican II that native languages like English began to be used for the Latin rite of the Church). Many new prayers were added to the mass, while many old prayers were removed. All 7 of the sacraments were revised (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Penance, etc.). The catechism was updated to be made consistent with the documents of Vatican II and a new code of canon law was issued. The changes were so far-reaching that even the Rosary and the rite of exorcism were modified and changed.
Traditional Catholics, for their part, see many conflicts with Catholic teaching in these changes, and wary of all this novelty, decided to hold fast to the faith of their fathers. They thus reject these changes, many of which are viewed as heretical. They therefore practice the Catholic faith as it was believed and practiced before all of these changes. This is roughly the equivalent to 1940s Catholicism, since some changes to the mass began to be introduced even before Vatican II.
Traditional Catholics therefore celebrate the mass in Ecclesiastical Latin, following the Roman Missal typically from some time in the 1940s (the new mass and traditional mass differ more than just in their language). Traditional Catholic priests administer the sacraments according to their traditional form. Catechism classes are taught using older catechisms, such as the Baltimore Catechism or the Catechism of the Council Trent. Other traditional Catholic practices are still followed as well, such as abstaining from meat on all Fridays (in remembrance of Christ’s death) and kneeling to receive Holy Communion.
Traditional Catholicism is not limited to a group of ‘change-hating’ old people. Today, it continues to see growth in its numbers with both the young and middle-aged included. Its converts consist primarily of Protestants and those who conclude that the changes of Vatican II are not consistent with the Catholic faith.
There are various traditional Catholic groups throughout the United States and the world. One example of such a group is the Society of St. Pius V, whose priests service various groups of traditional Catholics throughout the United States.
For more information on Traditional Catholicism, see Traditional Catholic Apologetics
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