I have recently had a lot of opportunity to reflect on and observe conversations between protestants and “traditionalist” Catholics. Which got me to thinking: You protestants posters on this forum, do you have any particular approach to dialogue with “traditionalist” Catholics? (Or do you not really think about it much, perhaps figuring we Catholics are basically all alike?)
I’m actually really interested in this. I’d say I have very mixed views. On the one hand, a lot of them seem to equate ‘tradition’ with the nineteenth century. Ultramontanism, a static rather than dynamic Thomist scholasticism, not to mention a dark undercurrent of anti-Semitism in the more extremist sectors.
On the other hand, I think there are some great positives. Do I agree with Archbishop Lefebvre’s views on Protestants, on the liturgy, on the world as a whole? No, of course not. Do I think that it’s significant that it’s the traditionalists who believe that the Pope and bishops have a God-given duty to preserve the Christian faith, whereas ‘liberals’ often act as if certain things can be changed at the stroke of a pen? Yes, I really do.
A time may yet come when traditional Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox have much more in common with each other than both liberals and ‘neoconservatives’ in their own communions…
I don’t know the difference between “traditionalist” Catholics, and regular Catholics, other than that some are members of groups schismatic from the Catholic Church.
If we are talking about the schism folks, I don’t have an opinion as I have never met one.
If we are talking about normal Catholics, I find them more agreeable than their more liberal counterparts. Confessional, and conservative Protestants and conservative Catholics are much more equipped for dialogue than our more liberal brothers and sisters. Since at least we are generally on the same page on social issues.
I quite like the traditionalists. While I understand that they may eye me with less warmth and fuzziness than the more liberal Catholics, I think they and the confessional Lutherans are natural allies against the encroachment of secularism.
I introduce them to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
If I keep it Jesus-centred, often they have little to say, because most of their pre-occupations have very little to do with the actual gospel. But it gives me a great opportunity to talk about the man they think of as their Lord.
Who is Jesus? What is the gospel? What did the cross accomplish? What does the Bible tell us?
This gets us away from their favourite topics (Latin, vestments, the Virgin Mary, Vatican II, etc) and onto Jesus - and since they claim spiritual allegiance to him, they’ve got to be polite about him.
Arguably, I’m using the term “traditionalist” in a slightly loose sense. That is to say, often times recently I’ve seen a conversation that I would describe as protestants-talking-with-traditionalist-Catholics, but an SSPX member might say “That isn’t exactly traditionalist as we use the term.”
I find that I enjoy the cases where a protestant actually likes dialoguing with traditionalist Catholics. I get the impression, though, that for many protestants it is more like they’re “driven” to respond to traditionalist statements.
(I suppose it may be the same way with us, in reverse: if we Catholics hear (read) an ultra-protestant statement from, say, a Baptist or a Pentecostal, it is difficult for us not to respond.)