In reading various Catholic newspapers, web sites, etc., I have come across the term neo-conservative. It seems to be used often by more traditional Catholics, but I can’t tell whether I fit the category. What does the term neo-conservative mean and how do I know if I am one?
*Neo *is a prefix that means “new.” So, a neo-conservative would be a “new conservative.” In a political context, it refers to those conservatives who reacted to and opposed the extreme political liberalism of the 1960s. It is sometimes specifically identified with those individuals influenced by the political conservative movement in the United States since the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980.
In a religious context, *neo-conservative *or, sometimes, neo-Catholic are the pejorative terms used by Catholics who identify with certain fringe elements of the traditional Catholic movement that began as a reaction to and a rejection of – in greater or lesser degrees of severity depending on the individual – the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The terms are meant to disparage the orthodoxy of Catholics who are doctrinally orthodox on matters of faith and morals but do not themselves have an attachment to Catholic traditionalism in matters of ecclesial discipline and liturgical rubrical form.
Do not be concerned with whether or not you are a so-called “neo-conservative” or “neo-Catholic” as defined by the standards of radically-traditionalist Catholics. All that is necessary is to be a Catholic who does his best to live in obedience to the Church.