Catholic or Roman Catholic



I wasn’t sure where to put this thread as I don’t know the forums very well.

If someone could please explain the difference (if any) between referring to oneself as Catholic or Roman Catholic I would be most grateful. The sign outside my church says Roman Catholic, but I’m not sure what that means exactly. I thought I remembered hearing or reading somewhere that there was a difference.

Thank you!


The Catholic Church is huge, covering the whole world. This was true even in ancient times. When the apostles set out to convert the world, they established churches in the major cities. These churches expanded into the areas around their cities, and so on. There were slight differences in the ways these different churches worshiped, and eventually these were called “rites”.

So the church in the city of Alexandria gave rise to the Alexandrian Rite. The church in the city of Byzantium (Constantinople/Istanbul) gave rise to the Byzantine Rite. The church in Rome gave rise to the Roman Rite. Because Rome was the capital of the Western Roman Empire after the split, the church of Rome covered all of Western Europe.

So Roman Catholics are those who practice the Roman Rite within the Catholic Church. There are still Byzantine, Alexandrian, etc. Catholics.

Having said all that, some people consider all Catholics to be “Roman Catholic” because they consider the Bishop of Rome (i.e, the Pope) to be head of the Church.

And others seem to think the world “Roman” implies some sort of insult, but I don’t see it.


Thank you so much for your quick reply :slight_smile: That makes perfect sense to me.


When the english protestants broke away from the Catholic Church, england had been an entirely Catholic country for 1000 years. As a sort of tool of propaganda to help convert the english people to protestantism the powers that were called the Catholic Church - Roman - in an effort to make what had been their Church now sound like a foreign, interfering and remote entity. So the terms Roman, and popish, etc. were used as insults to destroy the Church in England. But I prefer Roman Catholic to simply Catholic or trying to single out rites. It was intended as an insult but so many people died at the hands of the english reformers accused of being Roman Catholics, it would be sort of a shame not to keep that title.


The Catechism is titled the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” I do not say I belong to the Roman Rite but to The Latin Rite. I prefer just Catholic because then I identify with everyone of whatever rite in the Church.


“Roman Catholic” is not a Catholic term. As was posted above, it is a Protestant term, and usually used in a perjorative manner – suggesting that Catholics are somehow controlled by “Rome” and not really loyal citizens of their countries. This kind of bigotry was most recently used by the city of San Francisco in attacking the Church over its stand on gay marriage.


What you say is irrelevant. What does the Church say? Do you use a GIRM or a GILM? :smiley:


I might be off…I could be crazy after all…but I don’t mind the term “Roman Catholic”…my allegiance is in Rome, with the Pope…

If a protestant coined the term to get under my skin…but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest because I am proud of the fact…does that still make the term derogatory…or have I affectively made it my own…


As I said, it is often used to suggest Catholics are not “real” Americans, but somehow foreign agents.


Well, part of the problem here is that more than one Christian denomination considers itself to be Catholic. Certainly there are groups like the Old Catholics and their off shoots (some of whom have drifted so far from their Catholic roots as to be unrecognizable) who claim the title Catholic, as do the Orthodox (Though Orthodox tend to stress their Orthodoxy and thus there is little confusion there). As a result, Roman Catholic tends to be use for the Catholic Church, even though at most it only properly applies to the Western Rite.



Hi there,

Yes ,it is meant to be an insult.Some protestants consider themselves to be “catholic”, because it means Universal. They consider themselves part of the pure and Universal church Christ founded. The “biblical” one as oppose to the Roman one that is not biblical. So saying Roman, Romanists, etc…, is to distinguish us as evil, unchristian, the Pope is our ungodly ruler. We are in bondage and blindly do as were are told.

It is bothersome to say the least, but after learnig how they misrepresent the Catholic Church ( they dont really know what the catholic church teaches and, those who do dont understand it correctly), and how some are brought up in this anit-catholic bigotry, it can at least be some what tolerated. Forgive them for they know not what they do.


Your assumptions are many. When I say “Roman Catholic” I mean “Catholic but not Eastern Orthodox Catholic”. It’s much shorter, accurate, it’s on many signs outside Catholic doors and many Catholics refer to Themselves as “Roman Catholic”.

I think it’s just the latest in PC paranoia.

Of Course “Protestant” is mainly a Catholic term for non-Catholic Christians and many Protestants get offended by that term, I don’t see many Catholics changing their words because of it. Maybe we could all just make up new names for ourselves and insist we all use only the new terms… Be sure to change them periodically, just to confuse everyone… oh wait we already do that!


I recently learned that Protestants dont like this name. I never thought it to be derogatory. I know Catholics dont say Protestant to be antagonistic. And I never thought that Roman Catholic was derogatory until I learned this at a non-catholic forum. Roman is meant to be derogatory by those there. I personally dont take offense at being Roman Catholic, just the interpretation some fundamentalists give it.

I did not mean to say your reasons for saying Roman were the ones I listed.


The Catechism is the Catechism of the Catholic Church not the Roman Catholic Church just Catholic Church.
From the Catechism

The liturgical traditions or rites presently in use in the Church are the Latin (principally the Roman rite, but also the rites of certain local churches, such as the Ambrosian rite, or those of certain religious orders) and the Byzantine, Alexandrian or Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean rites. In "faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity, and that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way."69

The Roman rite is PART of the LATIN RITE.
The question has nothing to do with rites. It has to do with what is the name of our church. Since the Catechism says Catholic Church not Roman that is what I go by.


I am a Catholic. We are the original Catholics, and we don’t need to adopt modifiers to distinguish ourselves from our separated bretheren. If they want to call themselves “Old Catholics,” that’s their business. I’m a Catholic, period.


The Orthodox do not use the term “Catholic,” as far as I know (and I know lots of Orthodox churches! :smiley: ). True, they uphold their claim to being the original church, but they do not call themselves Catholics.

What’s an Eastern Orthodox Catholic? :stuck_out_tongue: :confused:


I keep seeing comments like this and find it confusing. If it’s not a Catholic term, then why does my parish have a big sign out front that says “Roman Catholic”. Why does our diocese website say “**Welcome to the Virtual Home of the Roman Catholic Church in Eastern Oklahoma.” **EWTN’s mission statement specifically mentions the “Roman Catholic Church”.

I have to disagree with the poster, Roman Catholic is not necessarily a pejorative term.


That’s what I’m saying…

[quote=Vern Humphrey]As I said, it is often used to suggest Catholics are not “real” Americans, but somehow foreign agents.

.I’ll let you know a secret about me…I am more Catholic than I am American. So I guess…in a way I am a foreign agent:cool:


They don’t use the name Catholic, but they do use it as a description of their Church. In other words, just as Catholic Church claims to teach the Orthodox Faith of Jesus, so they claim to be the Catholic Church referred to in the Nicene Creed.

Essentially both the Orthodox and the Catholic Church chose one of the words that could be used to describe themselves as the name of their church. Thats why I pointed out that the Orthodox would consider themselves the catholic church.



If it’s good enough for the Popes, it’s good enough for me: :slight_smile:

“***The Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church ***believes and acknowledges that there is one true and living God, creator and lord of heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immeasurable, incomprehensible, infinite in will, understanding and every perfection.”
[RIGHT]Pope Pius IX/Vatican I,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Paragraph 1
“Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church”
[RIGHT]Pope Pius IX/Vatican I, First dogmatic constitution on the Church of Christ, Chapter 3, Paragraph 1

“…This follows of necessity because in the City of God, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, a good citizen and an upright man are absolutely one and the same thing…”
[RIGHT]Pope Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri, Paragraph 54

“Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the Sources of Revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing.”
[RIGHT]Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, paragraph 27


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