Catholic vs Roman Catholic

What is the difference between the Catholic religion and the Roman Catholic religion? Is one stricter then the other? Thanks

Depends on who you ask! :stuck_out_tongue:

In general people take “Catholic” to mean “Roman Catholic.” To Roman Catholics they are Catholicism. Within their church the phrase “Catholic” means everyone and “Roman Catholic” means specifically the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

To those outside the Roman Communion there are different definitions:

To us Orthodox, “Catholic” can mean us. We regard ourselves as The Catholic Church, though we don’t call ourselves that in mixed company often because it’s confusing. Many of us will specifically say “Roman Catholic” to reference those in Communion with the Pope of Rome.

Many Anglicans regard themselves as “catholic” and consider their church part of the catholic church, though perhaps not the Catholic Church.

Catholics generally prefer “Catholic” and might occasionally distinguish that they are of the Roman (or Latin) Rite as there are also Byzantine, Marion and others.

Catholic means the whole Church.

Roman means the western Sui Juris (Latin Rite)

i don’t think some of the previous poster are correct. Roman Catholic is what all Catholics are if they are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. hence, ROMAN CATHOLIC. even byzantine Catholics are roman catholics .but they re not LATIN RITE Catholics.

This is incorrect because

  1. The Church is simply Catholic, to call all Catholics Roman is not fair and is offensive to our Eastern Brethren who are not Roman. That’s like calling all hispanics mexican, and as a hispanic, I take that as offense.

  2. Roman is a sui juris, also called the " Latin rite" which was added by Pope Paul the Sixth during VII.

They are not different religions.

Within the Catholic religion there are four or five different worship-style/language/theological traditions (let’s call them versions), that grew out of the 4/5 most important cities of the ancient Christian world. Roman Catholics are Catholics who belong to the Roman version.

Since the Roman kind included most of Europe, and was spread all over the world by Europeans, it is the kind you probably know best. The other versions are largely confined to Eastern Europe and the Middle East, because historically their spread eastward was stopped by Islam.

Hope that helps.

If I had a dime every time a Roman Catholic erroneously tells us Eastern Catholics that we’re Roman Catholics, I’d be richer than all the PowerBall winners combined.


[everyone else, I’m going as basic as I can and do not mean to sound offensive. I’m trying to give the OP the info that will help him operate in the real world]

To the OP: Every Christian in communion with the Pope is a Catholic. That is the name of their church: The Catholic Church. They share the same faith, they would call it the Catholic faith. In general if you say “I am Catholic” people will think you are under the authority of the Pope of Rome. “Roman” is one Rite within the Catholic Church. They have 23 or something (I get confused about the difference between a “rite” and a “church”). Many Eastern, or Byzantine Catholics, find it offensive to be referred to as “Roman Catholic” because the expresion of their Catholic Faith is not Roman. They have different devotions, services, and such that did not come from Rome.

Some, however, still refer to the entire Catholic Church mentioned above as “Roman Catholic,” because the definition of being a part of that Church is to be in Communion with Rome, and it distinguishes “The Roman Catholic Church” from what the speaker regards as the true Catholic Church (which can be a number of things: The Orthodox Church, the Old Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, some sedevacantist Church, etc.) This also offends many Eastern Catholics.

No my friend, I’m sorry. I’m not an expert on the topic, but Byzantine and Maronite and Melkite etc…Catholics are just that. They are not Roman Catholics, but they ARE Catholics just as as a Roman Catholic is a Roman Catholic, Ruthenian Catholics are just as Catholic, but are not Roman.

The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, and all churches are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, as he is the successor of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ, but that does not essentially make them Roman.


You’ll also find Lutherans who profess “in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” The word “catholic” meaning “universal” from the Greek “katholikos.”

When we say that, we mean that we are a continuation of the Western Church.

From our Ausburg confession: “…one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.”

But of course, if you ask a man on the street if we’re Catholic, they’ll say “No!.”

Please excuse my ignorance but this topic is something I have always wondered about but could never seem to find any straight answers on.

So, do all Catholics follow the Pope in Rome?

Everybody in communion with the Pope is part of the Catholic Church.

Generally, “Roman Catholic” is a synonym for “Catholic”. This is true both within and outside the [Roman] Catholic Church. The two principle exceptions are:

  1. Many Anglicans and occasionally other Protestants, especially in Great Britain it seems, who often use the term “Catholic” to refer to any Christian traditions which still resemble early and Medieval Christianity more closely than mainstream or Evangelical Protestantism do. Thus Eastern Orthodox and Anglo-Catholics (hence their name) would also count as “Catholics” in the general sense, so they employ the term “Roman Catholic Church” to refer to that Church which is in communion with the bishop of Rome and the adjective “Roman Catholic” to refer to anything pertaining to that Church.

  2. Many Eastern Catholics and some Western Catholics who have been influenced by Eastern language (probably a majority on these forums, but a relatively small minority in the Church at large), who often use the term as a synonym for “Latin rite Catholic” exclusively.

In my opinion exception number 2 in particular should not be championed. It does not reflect common Catholic or non-Catholic usage and therefore can give the (hopfully) entirely wrong impression that Eastern Catholics are distancing themselves from their own religion when they insist that they are not Roman Catholics.

In any case, the different definitions are apt to cause confusion, and to get entangled in Christian identity-controversies. When we encounter either term, “Catholic” or “Roman Catholic”, I think it is important to take note of what the person using it really means, and not to take unnecessary offence if they are using the terms in a way different than we use them.

We Eastern Catholics insist that we are not Roman Catholics exactly because we are not. We are Melkite Catholics, or Maronite Catholics, or Coptic Catholics, or Chaldean Catholics, or Ukrainian Catholics, and so forth. We are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, but we are not Roman.

No, Eastern Catholics are not Roman Catholic. We are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, but are not members of the sui iuris church of which he is the head; rather, we are members of our own various sui iuris churches.

Amen, thank you for you’re response and may God Bless you :slight_smile:

As I noted in my post immediately above this one, this use of the term “Roman Catholic” as a synonym for “Latin rite Catholic” (or “Latin Catholic” or “Western Catholic”) is not an official legal definition or even a common definition outside of certain particular circles. If you prefer the more limited definition that is your business, but I would charitably recommend caution in your use of it to avoid confusing others either about what the ordinary definition of the term is or about your own religious identity.

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