Catholic or Roman Catholic

Are we Catholics or Roman Catholics?

  1. “Catholic” means anyone who belongs to the universal Catholic Church that is under the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

  2. “Roman Catholic” can be used in two senses: It can refer to those Catholics who are part of the Latin rite of the Church (members of other rites are collectively called “Eastern Catholics”); it can also be used somewhat interchangeably with “Catholic.” (In many localities, “Roman Catholic” is used by secular outlets to designate those who follow the pope.)

  3. There are some Christian traditions who appreciate the age and tradition attached to the term “Catholic” and try to co-opt it for themselves. This is a rather venerable tradition in Protestantism, as James Cardinal Gibbons in his book Faith of Our Fathers answered the claim over a century ago: If someone asks you where he can find a Catholic church, would you send him to an Anglican or Eastern Orthodox parish, a Reformed congregation, or to a Roman Catholic church?

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