I recently attended a RCIA class in which it was proposed that the first use of the term “Catholic Church” was at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. This seems contrary to much of what I have learned and have shared with others. Granted, I am no scholar. I brought up the usage of “Catholic Church” in the patristic writings from the earlier centuries; and specifically focused on St. Ignatius’ letter to the Smyraeans.
One explanation I was provided was that the Council of Nicaea “ratified” its usage, making it official. I reviewed info on the council at Newadvent.org, but no mention of this ratification. I’m not sure if they equated the formulation of the Nicene Creed with a ratification of the usage of the words “Catholic Church” as a proper noun. I do not know much about the early Councils. Is this how the “Catholic Church” was first officially used by the Church? Are the letters of Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, and so forth using the “Catholic Church” unofficially or not in the same sense as Nicaea did? Did the Council of Nicaea “ratify” its usage?
When I brought up the patristic writings, another team member asked if it was a translation I was using. And, that translators may have used the upper case “C” instead of the lower case “c”. This kind of threw me, because it sounds a lot like typical anti-Catholic, “Constantine started the Catholic Church” argumentation. :shrug: But, then I thought “maybe this guy knows something I don’t”. Is there any merit to this thinking… a biased translation? Aren’t the “Catholic Church” & “catholic church” one in the same? My source for ECF writings is the “Faith Database” software.
The RCIA team is made up of good folks. They volunteer their time teaching others the faith; and do so with great charity. I’m not looking to challenge them or be critical of them. I would just like some clarification as the RCI lesson contradicted what I’ve learned elsewhere and what I share with others. I’d hate to be unwittingly sharing false info with others.