The "Catholic" in Anglo-Catholic, Old Catholic, PNCC

A recent conversation got me to thinking: why is it that Anglo-Catholics, Old Catholics, and the PNCC call themselves “Catholic” as opposed to (say) “Orthodox”?

Because they are all Western Christians and see themselves as flowing in the Western tradition of the universal church.


Those Churches believe that they are still one with the Universal Church. I have a great friend who is a priest for the Old Catholic Church of America. They believe they are “Catholic” but not in communion with Rome.

Actually ltwin the Orthodox DO call themselves Catholic, where they exist amongst populations where saying Catholic predominantly makes people think of Rome they would not use such a description. However just to take a particular example the proper name for my wife’s Church would be the Russian Orthodox Catholic Church.

I wasn’t implying that the Orthodox didn’t call themselves Catholic. I was saying more about the western churches being mentioned. If Anglicans called themselves “Anglo-Orthodox” people would think they are a strange mixture of Anglicanism and Eastern Christianity.

From my interactions with those in the Anglo-Catholic community, I’d say it is because they identify with the Catholic Church (tradition, liturgy, Apostolic Succession, etc) though they maintain the autonomy they claim (falsely mind you) that the British Isles always had.

Actually at one stage the Orthodox and the Anglicans entered into protracted discussions regarding the possibility of inter-communion, although sadly later developments within the Anglican Church rendered that null and void.

I take your point though, I apologise for any confusion that has crept in.

There’s a rather odd little group that calls itself the Celtic Orthodox Church who are acctive in the UK and Republic of Ireland who make this assertion as well. That group also appoints women priests and tries to provide proof from Irish and British history that there is no problem with doing so.



Some do. Some don’t. You can never tell about Anglicans.




Actually, I believe that a small subset of Anglo-Catholics do call themselves “Anglo-Orthodox” (and another small subset call themselves “Anglo-Papal”).

But most don’t. And I have the same question, “what is Anglo-Orthodox?” It doesn’t take much guess work to get an idea for what “Anglo-Catholic” means, but Anglo-Orthodox opens up a ton of questions.

For me, it was the other way around: for years, I didn’t completely understand the term “Anglo-Catholic”.

But when I heard the term “Anglo-Orthodox” I immediately grasped what they were going for, and likewise for the term “Anglo-Papal”. (In retrospect, my early interpretation of “Anglo-Catholic” is what I now understand to be meant by “Anglo-Papal”.)

It’s tricky.



Yes. :smiley:

So are Old Cathilics in schism with the Church? Can a Roman Catholic confess to an Old Catholic priest in case of an emergency?

AFAIK, the OCs, generally (there are more than one sort) are considered schismatic.


We call ourselves Catholic because we believe we possess the fullness of the Catholic faith. So it’s the same reason why you do. This is by no means restricted to the Anglo Catholic party.

I agree – I mean, not about calling your Church “Catholic”, but about “Catholic” (not “Orthodox”) being the traditional name of the true church.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit