Catholic means universal?

Catholic means universal, right?

What is the Catholic viewpoint on the other denominations of Christianity? My understanding is that Catholics embrace all of their Christian brothers and sisters, correct?

I know there are some Protestants who do not accept Catholicism, but I have the understanding that Catholics see all Christians as members of the same greater church.

I would be interested in seeing any official or unofficial viewpoints about the relationship of the Catholic Church to the other Christian denominations.

Thank you very much!

There is only one church. It’s the one Jesus established. As catholics, we understand the catholic church to BE that church.

In the broadest sense, all baptized Christians are of the church. But there are degrees of separation and disruption of the unity that Christ intended there to be in the church. The Eastern Orthodox are of the church, if imperfectly due to refusal to accept meaningful primacy of the Petrine office. More recent schisms also exist within the church while retaining apostolic succession to the extent that such communities can be called “churches.”

Protestant communities aren’t technically called “churches” in official catholic terminology. Instead they are called “ecclesial communities.” The members are often referred to as “separated brethren” in that they are our brothers via baptism (Grace), but tragically separated from us via their rejection of apostolic succession.

In the broadest view, baptized individuals are seen as members of the church, but communities of Christians who have separated themselves from apostolic succession have lost a crucial component of what Jesus intended the word “church” to mean.

Good thing God is merciful or we’d all be in the soup, eh?

Perhaps the family is a good analogy. Imagine a couple has 12 kids. They all grow up and move out on their own. 11 of them marry and have kids of their own. The 12th doesn’t marry and feels a bit left out at family gatherings. As a result, she drifts a bit from regular contact with the other siblings. This doesn’t make her NOT part of the family, but the relationship is damaged. Call her the Eastern Orthodox (don’t read into the kid thing!) Another has a huge knock down drag-out fight with the family father and refuses to attend overall family gatherings if the dad will be there. He still has contact sometimes with the siblings, but never when dad’s around. (He’s the protestant). Everybody fights at times, of course. They’re siblings! In the end, they’ll always be family, whatever comes. But not all family relations are as close as they’re supposed to be.


Not all denominations are even considered Christian (e.g. Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses), nor do they all have valid baptisms (list). Every denomination is different.

Non-Catholics are not allowed to receive Holy Communion because they are not in communion (shared belief) with the Church. In fact, even self-identified ‘Catholics’ who publicly and openly oppose Church teaching are not supposed to present themselves for communion.

The Universal Church means it is a Church encompasses people of all nations, there is no Greek or Jew, there are just those belonging to the Universal Church. There are no borders of our Church because it’s a World Wide or Global Church.

The Church by many protestant definition means something else than the Catholic term for Church. A Catholic term would be people united in One Faith or denomination, for example there is the Catholic Church, The Lutheran Church, the Baptist Church, etc. Mainline Protestants like evangelicals see more of a general “Church” as being all Saved Christians united by their belief in Christ, not necessarily of one Belief and One Faith or Christian denomination.

Minor quibble: The LDS faith and JW faith are not Christian denominations, they are heretical offshoots of Christianity, doctrinally speaking. This often really insults people, but there’s no real way around it. It’s good to point out that we’re not, however, saved by correct doctrine, but by Grace. This sets up the bemusing scenario where there are likely dead wrong Mormons and JWs headed to heaven and catholic theology phd’s headed for hell. Correct doctrine assists greatly in the acceptance of Grace, but its not remotely the most crucial thing in life.

I like what everyone is saying. I know one thing about the Catholic Church that means an enormous amount to me is that the Catholic church has members of every color and country of origin. The Protestant churches around here seem to be very racially segregated. I feel that a racially segregated Sunday is extremely displeasing to God!

Have a look at the racial and ethnic makeup of the recently appointed Cardinals:

Seeing that diversity made me feel really happy. Thank you PO18guy!

It is obvious the Holy Spirit is at work in the Catholic Church!

If we do not see Christ in each of those faces, we are not fit to be called Christians.

Also, LOVE your signature!

I think some of that depends on the geographical area and individual situations. Catholicism embraces all ethnicities, but that doesn’t mean individual Catholic churches will have a wide ethnic representation.

In my diocese, for example, there are some communities that bonded with one another decades, or even centuries, ago over a common language or a major life experience; Latvian and Mexican immigrants, for example. They aren’t very ‘diverse’; this isn’t because they are excluding anyone, they just have their own sub-culture within the wider Catholic culture. Its their home. Someone who is not comfortable with their culture is likely not going to attend that Church if they don’t have to.

Catholic means universal but it also means “according to the whole”.

We believe and know that every other Christian church and ecclesial community lacks some elements of the faith, either because they were lost or because they were distorted. We believe the whole universal faith (what the Fathers call the “catholic orthodox faith”) is preserved entirely in Scripture and Tradition within the apostolic deposit of faith treasured by the Catholic Church.

We believe the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him, and we desire all Christians to enter full communion with her and to reach thus the wholeness of the universal faith.

We believe salvation is specifically bound to being part of the mystical body of Christ, that is to say, the Catholic Church, and on being under the guidance of the Vicar of Christ, to whom Christ said: “to you I shall give the keys of the Kingdom…I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail you…confirm your brothers…feed my lambs, take care of my flock”.

This is not to say that those who do not know what the Catholic Church is, cannot be saved. But we are called to teach the glory of God’s own spiritual house and to lead all men and women into its gates, for this alone is the narrow door of salvation. Whether other Christians or non-Christians, unaware in good conscience and in invincible ignorance of the necessity to belong to the Catholic Church, can be saved or not, is not for us to say or deny - only God knows the answer to this. We know and show the way, we do not know of other roads or of dead ends…

Fr. John Corapi once said (probably more than once, I suppose) that we all know enough to be saints. We can know all the doctrine, all the proofs, all the writings, but we don’t live that truth out, if we don’t strive for union with Christ, we’re wasting our time.

That’s an interesting point. I guess I’ve been guilty of that line of thinking, that we’re saved by correct doctrine. Although, I would think our access to grace is better if we’re following the correct doctrine but grace is a gift given and not earned. Hmmm…

Grace is not something imposed, forced on us. Indeed we can resist grace, and even lose it. Not having the fullness of the faith means fighting with half the weapons, or running the race with one shoe. It is fairly possible to lose.

It is also possible to fall if we grow proud in the fullness of the faith, for “when someone has been given much, much will be required in return”.

Here is the Congregation for Divine Faith’s viewpoint, this is the official Catholic teaching about the state of Protestant denominations. By the way, Catholic is not a denomination, it is The Church!

I think Jesus was trying to give that message for those who have the ears to hear. Such as Matthew 7:21–23 and in the parable of the good Samaritan.

Thank you. Makes sense…

Usage varies, but I would say that, for our purposes here on the Catholic Answers Forum, Catholics (without a qualifier like Anglo- ) means members of the Roman Communion. If we mean catholics in the sense that includes Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans, then we put a lowercase c.

I consider that a gracious approach.

I don’t follow it, but even so…


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