Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Why rad trads and reformers need to start talking to one another

  • 01 July 2022
In recent weeks rumours have abounded that Pope Francis is considering resigning. At the same time, the Australian Church is on the precipice of its second Assembly of the Plenary Council, which kicked off on Sunday. According to Vatican watchers, it’s unlikely that Pope Francis will step down. However, if he does not complete some of the reforms that have been so key to his papacy, we could be left with a church bordering on schism. 

Debate between more traditionalist Catholics and those who want to see reforms more fully implemented has become increasingly heated in the lead-up to the Plenary Council. One thing that could prevent a serious split from happening is the simple act of talking — and listening — to one another. 

Recently, the America Media podcast Jesuitical published an interview with French priest Fr Pierre Amar reflective of one such debate, titled ‘Our conversations about the Latin Mass don’t have to be so toxic’. Fr Amar was both reasonable and jovial as he bantered with the hosts about the appealing ‘vibe’ and ‘atmosphere’ of the Latin Mass, and explained why the toxic dialogue around the Latin Mass is less prevalent in France than in the United States and increasingly Australia.

Traditionalists in Australia seem to be moving in the direction of a hybrid Catholicism. Many young people I know who demonstrate a genuine faith commitment are increasingly drawn to the Latin Mass, and the young women can often be seen wearing lace mantillas at liturgical celebrations.

These same people will participate in youth ministry initiatives, which usually include modern music from Hillsong, Bethel and other similar churches. It’s not a stretch to say some will happily participate in a novus ordo mass with worship music and then drive many kilometres to attend the Latin rite. Often they have little awareness of the culture wars that accompany their liturgical choices. Instead of criticising these young faithful, we need to listen to them and try to understand them.

"Those who seek change, derisively referred to as ‘Woke Boomer Reformers’, and the ‘Radical Traditionalists’ or ‘Rad Trads’ who seek a return to a remnant church often never actually meet. Both groups remain mystified and develop negative impressions of one another." 

Australia’s Plenary Council process, while an innovative and creative invitation to all Catholics to participate in the building of a better church, has its share of flaws and omissions. And the voting members of the