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Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Is there a difference among conservative, orthodox, and traditional Catholics?

Question:

Traditional, orthodox, conservative? What’s the difference? Is there some formal definition of these as they relate to Catholicism? I am so confused now as to who I am.

Answer:

The terms have different emphases, but you will find no “formal definition” for them. “Traditional” suggests a preference for older liturgical and devotional styles; a similar word, “Traditionalist,” has a somewhat different emphasis and is used to label those intent on restoring the old Latin Mass. One can be “traditional” without being “Traditionalist” in that sense. “Orthodox” means “having the right opinion,” and everyone should strive to be that; it’s a handy word when used in contradistinction to “heterodox, ” which means “having a different opinion (from the official teaching). ” “Conservative” is a political term injected into religion, and I recommend against using it if some other word will convey your point.

Final advice: Don’t worry about trying to pigeonhole yourself. Learn to be satisfied with just calling yourself “Catholic. “

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