Fr. Chad Ripperger (formerly) of the Fraternity of St. Peter has an excellent article up over at Faithful Answers discussing the differences between traditional and conservative (or what he calls “neoconservative”) Catholics. Here’s an excerpt:
Furthermore, neoconservatives’ very love for the Church and strong emotional attachment to the Magisterium cause them to find it unimaginable that the Church could ever falter, even with regard to matters of discipline. Like the father who loves his daughter and therefore has a hard time imagining her doing anything wrong, neoconservatives have a hard time conceiving that the Holy Ghost does not guarantee infallibility in matters of discipline or non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching. Traditionalists, confronted by a Church in crisis, know that something has gone wrong somewhere. As a result, they are, I believe, more sober in assessing whether or not the Church exercises infallibility in a given case. That, allied to their looking at the present through the eyes of the past, helps traditionalists to see that the onus is on the present, not the past, to justify itself.
The only quibble I have with Fr. Ripperger’s piece — and it is a minor one — is that it doesn’t account for the experiences of Eastern Catholics, most of whom do not fit neatly into either the traditionalist or conservative category. While there is what I would call a “natural conservatism” among the Eastern churches, centuries of living in a de facto ecclesiastical ghetto coupled with various influxes of “Latinization” have compelled contemporary Easterners to recover their respective traditions. This is all fine and good, but as most Latins know by now, the process of “recovery” is often fraught with difficulties and subject to being hijacked by renovationists.