The Roman in Roman Catholic

In the past few days I’ve heard a couple of different Protestants comment on the title Roman Catholic Church. One pointed out that, since Catholic means universal, Roman Catholic is an oxymoron. Another pointed out that the very earliest church was not situated in Rome.

I pretty much know how to respond to these claims. For example, I know the term “Roman Catholic” was not something we originally called ourselves, it came from our opponents.

What I’d like to know is if we know who the person who originated this title is known? Can it be traced to an individual?

The Church is the Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church refers to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. There are other Rites besides the Roman, such as Byzantine, Maronite, Melkite, etc.

The church is the Roman Catholic Church. The other churches are other churches. It’s not something anyone puts on the Roman Catholic Church to insult it.

It can be used as insult and it can be used in a totally neutral sense. Context makes the difference. The other sui juris Churches are of course part of the Catholic Church in it’s entirety.

So who’s right?

I have been trying to get to the bottom of this. I tend to agree with 1ke, as that makes more sense.

The term Roman Catholic is not used by the Church herself; it is a relatively modern term, and one, moreover, that is confined largely to the English language. The English-speaking bishops at the First Vatican Council in 1870, in fact, conducted a vigorous and successful campaign to insure that the term Roman Catholic was nowhere included in any of the Council’s official documents about the Church herself, and the term was not included.

Taken from this link.

From the Catechism:

816 “The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”

I believe the term “Roman Catholic” itself originated in England among Protestants as a way to denigrate and demean Catholics. But, among Catholics we’ve sort of appropriated “Roman” as a way to identify ourselves. I think the proper term for “Roman Catholics” is that we belong to the Latin rite Church. The members of the other Churches that are under the jurisdiction of the Pope are Catholic but are generally referred to as being Byzantine rite Catholics to differentiate them from Latin rite Catholics.


And, also from the Catechism:

Each particular Church is “catholic”

832 "The Church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful, which, in so far as they are united to their pastors, are also quite appropriately called Churches in the New Testament. . . . In them the faithful are gathered together through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. . . . In these communities, though they may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present, through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is constituted."312

833 The phrase “particular Church,” which is first of all the diocese (or eparchy), refers to a community of the Christian faithful in communion of faith and sacraments with their bishop ordained in apostolic succession.313 These particular Churches "are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists."314

834 Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome "which presides in charity."315 "For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord."316 Indeed, "from the incarnate Word’s descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior’s promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her."317

835 "Let us be very careful not to conceive of the universal Church as the simple sum, or . . . the more or less anomalous federation of essentially different particular churches. In the mind of the Lord the Church is universal by vocation and mission, but when she put down her roots in a variety of cultural, social, and human terrains, she takes on different external expressions and appearances in each part of the world."318 The rich variety of ecclesiastical disciplines, liturgical rites, and theological and spiritual heritages proper to the local churches "unified in a common effort, shows all the more resplendently the catholicity of the undivided Church."319

Who belongs to the Catholic Church?

836 "All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God. . . . And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation."320

837 "Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but ‘in body’ not ‘in heart.’"321

838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.”

The Church is the Catholic Church.

The name “Roman Catholic Church” refers in a particular way to the Latin Church or the Roman Church as noted above.

At times though it is true that it has been used for the whole Church given that the office of unity…the office of Peter is in Rome…

Be that as it may…

It is good to note also that the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” is the catechism for the entire Church …including the Eastern Churches.

It is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

… is not called “Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church” nor will you find this term “Roman Catholic” anywhere in the Catechism. Only the term “Catholic”.

An article

“Roman Catholic Church” is actually a misnomer, though it has become somewhat accepted because of its common usage. The correct term is “Catholic Church, Latin Rite.” There are other rites.

But that doesn’t answer the OP’s question. Can the term “Roman Catholic Church” be attributed to one person? Did any historical figure coin the term?

I have absolutely no idea. :frowning:

No to both.

Wiki seems to have a decent explanation…

Its not an oxymoron, because the Roman Catholic Church is only one of 23 Churches comprising of the entire Catholic Church. There are 22 Churches belonging to the Eastern Churches, as they are collectively known.

Its called Roman Catholic because the Church is centered in Rome. So much so that Ukrainian Catholics have their Patriarchial Cathedral in Ukraine. Russian Catholics in Russia, etc. Some may have names that would point more to the ethnicity of the Church rather than an actual territory or country.

This is correct. The term was used by English during Henry VIII’s split with Rome as a way of incorporating the rise of nationalism into the rebellion. The idea was that the pope, in Rome, was a foreign ruler whereas the King of England, as head of the Church of England was English. The term “Roman Catholic Church” was tame compared to other terms used such as "papists’’.

In addition to the above one can note that one finds too at times the term “Roman Catholic” to denote the Church in various ecumenical relations.

And yes the Anglicans did certainly pick up on the term long ago to refer to us…but such is not the only “use”…

There has been some use within the Church and in certainly there still is in culture as well as in ecumenical relations both with Anglicans…and other Protestants such as Lutherans …as well as with the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Though too it is important to note…one certainly finds in ecumenical writings the term “Catholic Church” as well. So at times various terms are used.

This of course does not change the fact that the most proper term (as one notes from the Catechism) is:

the Catholic Church.

Good Homily from Pope Benedict XVI

Could that be because they say the term “Roman Catholic” as an oxymoron?

Enlighten us with the explanation as to what you mean here. I have a feeling I know where this is going but out of desire not to pre-judge what you are saying expand on your point please.

How would a Roman Catholic refer to his church without leaving room for confusion with another Catholic church?

Even within the context of various Catholic churches in communion with the Roman Catholic church, “Roman Catholic” still appears to be an oxymoron. Maybe “Roman Catholic” is just an abbreviation for the “The Roman Church of the Catholic Church”? Then there is the issue of the Catholic churches not in communion with the Church of Rome and all the churches that don’t use the term Catholic.

Protestants consider the Catholic Church to be the whole body of Christian believers, at least if the context does not imply Roman Catholic.

A Catholic of the Latin Church can call himself a Catholic or a Roman Catholic or a Catholic of the Roman Rite or Latin rite…

A Catholic of the Melkite Catholic Church can call himself a Catholic or a Melkite Catholic or a Catholic of the Melkite Church etc…

The term Catholic Church refers to the Catholic Church :slight_smile:

oh…then there is my friend who is in Rome…he is a Roman …Catholic in more than one sense :slight_smile:

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