Is the term "Church of Rome" derogatory?

Hi all,
In a Letter to the Editor, someone referred to the Catholic Church as the “Church of Rome”.
I think it is a fair guess to say the author is not a Catholic. The letter is about Creationists and Evolutionists treating each other respectfully. Was he being disrespectful when he said “Church of Rome” rather than “Catholic Church”?

Here is the link:
dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2011/09/03/debate-over-religion-need-not-become-divisive.html

Thank you

I think it is cause the protestants like to say the same thing, The Church of Christ should be used cause Jesus Christ is its founder.

Better than "Romish Church," though! :p

Yes and No.

In order for something to be derogatory it must be understood as derogatory. It appears that the writer of the letter did not think it derogatory since the entire tenor of the letter was about not letting things become divisive.

The thing about terms and there meanings is that
1) They can have one intent or meaning to the speaker
2) another intent or meaning to the hearer and
3 Their meaning can change over time such that something originally seen as insulting or vulgar is no longer viewed that was.

If a person speaks "Church of Rome" with intent to demean, but I hear it simply as one way to clarify who he is talking about, no real harm is done to me.
If a person speaks "Church of Rome" with no intent to demean, but I take offense, then the sin is on my head.

It may well be that in the term originated as a derogatory. But if so, it has lost most of it's bite.

Though truthfully it would be more accurate to say "The Church at Rome"

Peace
James

I believe in the great stage production, Leonardo Defillipis' 'Saint of Auschwitz', amazon.com/Maximilian-Saint-Auschwitz-Leonardo-Defilippis/dp/0898705827 the Freemasons call it "The Church of Rome", so in that vein, it does not seem flattering. I think you will find groups like that using the term. If you see that video around, you might watch it.

Greetings Max_kolbe,

I do not find it offensive or derogatory. Perhaps becuase I do not see this term as being derogatory. Some people may find it derogatory, perhaps it is dependant on who is being confronted with the use of this term.

God bless.
Anathama Sit

Thanks all for the responses!

It is good advice to be careful not to be offended too easily.

If the author wanted to be clear, he would have said Catholic Church. It would seem that the origin of the term is probably not complementary to Catholics. Although, I don't see any value in responding to the Letter to the Editor because the author of the letter I am sure is aware that we call ourselves Catholics, not Church of Romers :)

The content of the letter was about treating each other respectfully though and it does stick out like a sore thumb to not use the clearest, most common name. Also, he was telling us (Christians) that the Creation/Evolution debate is not worth wasting time on. Our Holy Father held a conference on the topic in 2006. The conference was published in the following book: Creation and Evolution: A Conference With Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo. So, it would seem to be an important topic.

I think the letter was an example of "let's all be tolerant and I am intolerant of anyone who doesn't do it my way", which I find very frustrating.

Thanks again!

It can be derogatory but is not necessarily so.

I personally find it mildly derogatory - though forgivably so, because the person is trying to be honest - if it is used in a fully conscious effort to resist on a terminological level the fact that the Catholic Church simply isn't principally defined by the fact that the supreme pontiff is also the bishop of Rome.

That said, when people - it's always non-Catholics - use "Church of Rome" to refer to the Catholic Church, they are self-evidently and unarguably abusing the proper terminology. The "Church of Rome" is a particular church, i.e. diocese. I am a Catholic, but these people will just have to learn that in no sense am I a member of the Church of Rome. I am a member of the "Diocese of [my home city]," not the Church of Rome.

The term "Church of Rome" can't even properly identify the whole Latin Church, let alone the entire Catholic Church.

[quote="Fone_Bone_2001, post:8, topic:254795"]
It can be derogatory but is not necessarily so.

I personally find it mildly derogatory - though forgivably so, because the person is trying to be honest - if it is used in a fully conscious effort to resist on a terminological level the fact that the Catholic Church simply isn't principally defined by the fact that the supreme pontiff is also the bishop of Rome.

That said, when people - it's always non-Catholics - use "Church of Rome" to refer to the Catholic Church, they are self-evidently and unarguably abusing the proper terminology. The "Church of Rome" is a particular church, i.e. diocese. I am a Catholic, but these people will just have to learn that in no sense am I a member of the Church of Rome. I am a member of the "Diocese of [my home city]," not the Church of Rome.

The term "Church of Rome" can't even properly identify the whole Latin Church, let alone the entire Catholic Church.

[/quote]

We call ourselves Roman Catholics though I would generally just say Catholic unless I had to be specific.

This wikipedia article indicates the connotations of "Romanism" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanism

And of course, there is the book "Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The attack on Romanism".

So, I think Fone Bone's observations are spot on.

In my experience, the term "Church of Rome" is of a piece with such expressions as "pope of Rome," "Romish church," "papists," and similar terms which in their intent are clearly demeaning, dismissive, and derogatory.

[quote="Tarpeian_Rock, post:10, topic:254795"]
In my experience, the term "Church of Rome" is of a piece with such expressions as "pope of Rome," "Romish church," "papists," and similar terms which in their intent are clearly demeaning, dismissive, and derogatory.

[/quote]

I agree with you except as regards the term "pope of Rome." That can be a perfectly legitimate term in certain contexts: say, for instance, you're discussing first millennium ecclesiology and you need to clarify that you're not referring to the pope of Alexandria.

Fair enough. My comment was influenced by a local radio preacher (of the Whore-of-Babylon / Vatican conspiracy / One-World-Religion / Vatican-taking-over-Jerusalem mindset) who routinely refers to the “pope of Rome.” I can assure you HIS context is unmistakeable!

[quote="Tarpeian_Rock, post:12, topic:254795"]
Fair enough. My comment was influenced by a local radio preacher (of the Whore-of-Babylon / Vatican conspiracy / One-World-Religion / Vatican-taking-over-Jerusalem mindset) who routinely refers to the "pope of Rome." I can assure you HIS context is unmistakeable!

[/quote]

Fair enough to you as well. :) I think some terms that we've mentioned - like "Romish church" - are always pretty derogatory. Others - like "Church of Rome" - can be appropriate or inappropriate depending on how they're used.

I guess "pope of Rome" is one of those terms. That radio show's use of it sounds like it would really irritate me as well. Thankfully it's entirely different when dialoguing respectfully with knowledgeable eastern Christians about the first few centuries of Christian ecclesiology. :)

[quote="DChacon, post:2, topic:254795"]
I think it is cause the protestants like to say the same thing, The Church of Christ should be used cause Jesus Christ is its founder.

[/quote]

Except the term "Church of Christ" comes loaded with its own set of baggage. ;)

I think that it is best to look at any of these terms in the context of a specific discussion and to not "look for" insults. Seek instead a charitable understanding of what is meant and then seek to correct any errors.

The thing to remember, even with many of the "anti-catholics", is that most are working from ignorance rather than from hatred.

Many will use these terms simply because they are the terms taught to them by others. I dare say that some have heard "Church of Rome" or "Romish Church" more than they've heard the term Roman Catholic Church.

Peace
James

[quote="JRKH, post:15, topic:254795"]
I think that it is best to look at any of these terms in the context of a specific discussion and to not "look for" insults. Seek instead a charitable understanding of what is meant and then seek to correct any errors.

The thing to remember, even with many of the "anti-catholics", is that most are working from ignorance rather than from hatred.

Many will use these terms simply because they are the terms taught to them by others. I dare say that some have heard "Church of Rome" or "Romish Church" more than they've heard the term Roman Catholic Church.

Peace
James

[/quote]

Well said.

[quote="JRKH, post:4, topic:254795"]

In order for something to be derogatory it must be understood as derogatory.

[/quote]

Surely something is derogatory, if it is intended as derogatory?

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