Universal Church in union w/Rome- The Catholic Church or The Roman Catholic Church?

Twice in one week I’ve run into Orthodox who insist on Calling the Catholic Church “Roman Catholic” and one going so far as to count Eastern Catholics as Roman Catholics.

From what I read, “Roman Catholic” actually originates in the 17th, 18th Centuries from anti-Catholics and the Church never calls herself that. “Roman” strictly speaking refers only to Catholics in the Diocese of Rome, though it’s popularly used interchangeably with “Latin” when referring to the Western Latin Rite. Some insist that Eastern Catholics and all other Catholics due to their recognition of the papacy, are Roman Catholics.

Q: As Eastern Catholics, what is your own view on the proper name or designation of the universal Church in union with the Pope?

The Vatican uses: “The Catholic Church”
for those Christians not in full communion, with valid sacraments: particular or local churches or sister churches
for those Christians without valid sacraments: ecclesial communities





[LEFT]What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church? See:[/LEFT]


I don’t see where those documents show that the Church calls “the Catholic Church” those Apostolic churches that are out of communion with her but only “sister churches”.

From the Orthodox perspective, THEY are the Catholic Church. The term “orthodox” is just used to distinguish themselves from those who are unorthodox in belief and practice.

For them “Roman Catholic” is a polite term for a church they would otherwise say was in schism. In their mind, Eastern Catholics are also in schism, and calling them “Roman Catholic” is merely an acknowledgment of the internal communion of groups that are all separated from the Orthodox Catholic Church.

Technically, the name of the catholic church is the One Holy Catholic Apostolic (Roman)Church.

I inserted Roman in parentheses because the Church is headed in Rome.

The Catholic Church should only be referred to as Roman when referring to the Latin Catholic Church. The other 22 Catholic churches, Eastern and Oriental, are not Roman. They are fully part of the Catholic Church.

The Orthodox churches also claim that they are the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. They are our sister churches and not to be denied this name.

  1. Fair enough for the Roman part.

Just because they claim they are doesn’t mean they are the one holy catholic and apostolic church.

From the Catechism:

870 “The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, . . . subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines”(LG 8).

I disagree. The overwhelming majority of Orthodox are fully aware that Eastern Catholics do not identify themselves as Roman Catholics. You may find Greek Catholic, Melkite, etc., but you will not find “Roman”. Accordingly, those who refer to Eastern Catholics as Roman Catholics, are very likely making a choice to deny the self-identification of Eastern Catholics and to impose an alien identity upon them. IMO this usage is akin to the usage of the U word, which is acknowledged to be inherently “confrontational and uncharitable” (cf Important Forum Information).

Actually the term is far older than that, the Council of Florence used it back in the 15th Century throughout the Council documents’**… They adopted an attitude of opposition and, prodigal of their good name and enemies to their own honour, they strove to their utmost with pestilential daring to rend the unity of the holy Roman and Catholic church and the seamless robe of Christ’, and with serpentlike bites to lacerate the womb of the pious and holy mother herself. **

The Council of Trent also uses the term throughout 'CANON XXIX.-If any one saith, that he, who has fallen after baptism, is not able by the grace of God to rise again; or, that he is able indeed to recover the justice which he has lost, but by faith alone without the sacrament of Penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and Catholic Church-instructed by Christ and his Apostles-has hitherto professed, observed, and taugh; let him be anathema. '

The Tridentine profession of faith also states ‘Since that time the Roman Catholic Church has added two articles which enter into the profession, one on the sinlessness of the Virgin Mary, and one on the infallibility of the pope, in the following words:

The First Vatican Council also uses the term in its profession of faith states '** I acknowledge the
apostolic and
church, the mother and mistress of all the churches [1] .
all other things which have been transmitted, defined and declared by the sacred canons and the ecumenical councils, especially the sacred Trent, I accept unhesitatingly and profess; in the same way
whatever is to the contrary, and whatever heresies have been condemned, rejected and anathematised by the church, I too condemn, reject and anathematise.

This true catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, is what I shall steadfastly maintain and confess, by the help of God, in all its completeness and purity until my dying breath, and I shall do my best to ensure [2] that all others do the same. This is what I, the same Pius, promise, vow and swear. So help me God and these holy gospels of God. **’

I understand that some Eastern Catholics may not like the term because they perceive it as an insult or a slight of their particular tradition but ultimately it is no more than a statement of fact. We are all Roman because we are all part of the church which accepts the Roman Pontiff as its head (on earth) and which is obedient and humbly submissive to said pontiff. Likewise the Catholic Church has a Roman Character because its head on earth is the Roman Pontiff and said church is 'the mother and mistress of the churches’. This does not mean that all Catholics have the same liturgical or even theological traditions nor does it undermine the importance of the various rites and particular chuches.

Here we go again with insisting something because its one’s own personal viewpoint to assert a personally perceived supremacy of the Roman Church.

Mind you that hundreds of years ago, the Roman Church did think of herself as supreme and only Church and Rite of the true Church. Remember that there was a time that the Eastern Churches were seen more as transitional Churches for people coming in from Orthodoxy into Roman Catholicism. To assert such circumstance as true today is being in denial of the truths and facts we have today. And to throw away the hard work many Popes have done over the recent decades to properly define the true universality of the Church, which incorporates all different Rites, not just Roman.

It does not mean they are not.

It does not make one a better Catholic by rejecting any recognition of other churches. The Catholic Church does recognise the Orthodox churches as churches. That is important both in ecclesiology and theology. They are also recognised as having valid Apostolic succesion and valid sacraments.

The Church in Rome never thought of herself as the only rite of the true church, it could not do so considering that there has been more than one rite in the west for over a thousand years. Nor did I say that the church in Rome was the only particular church, I merely pointed out that the term 'Roman Catholic’ has been in use for hundreds of years and has been used by The Church in ecumenical councils, that is infallibly, to describe itself. Nowhere have I referred to my point of view or opinion.

Also the assertion that it is only the popes in the recent years who have properly defined the true universality of the church does a great disservice to the many other Popes over the years who have done so since the time of the Second Council of Lyons.

As for the Church in Rome being supreme, I have only presented the facts, that is all.

The fact that the Catholic Church IS the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church does however mean that the Orthodox churches are not the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, that is what we as Catholics profess. Orthodox may individually be part of the body of Christ, but until they submit to the authority of the Pope they cannot be as a body part of The Catholic Church, that is the True Church of Christ.

Your personal interpretation of Church documents and assertions are not facts.

I did not present my personal interpretation nor reference my personal opinion, I referenced facts as I did in my original post. If you have a better interpretation of '‘Mother and Mistress of all the Churches’ along with the rest of the sources I have cited I would be more than happy to hear it for my edification.

This is from the catholic encyclopedia page titled “Roman Catholic”

A qualification of the name Catholic

  • commonly used in English-speaking countries by those unwilling to recognize the claims of the One True Church. ***Out of condescension for these dissidents, the members of that Church are wont in official documents to be styled “Roman Catholics***” as if the term Catholic represented a genus of which those who owned allegiance to the pope formed a particular species. It is in fact a prevalent conception among Anglicans to regard the whole Catholic Church as made up of three principal branches, the Roman Catholic, the Anglo-Catholic and the Greek Catholic. As the erroneousness of this point of view has been sufficiently explained in the articles CHURCH and CATHOLIC, it is only needful here to consider the history of the composite term with which we are now concerned.

This is from an Article called “How Did the Catholic Church Get Her Name?” by Kenneth D. White on ewtn.com, link: ewtn.com/faith/teachings/churb3.htm

The Creed which we recite on Sundays and holy days speaks of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As everybody knows, however, the Church referred to in this Creed is more commonly called just the Catholic Church. It is not, by the way, properly called the Roman Catholic Church, but simply the Catholic Church.

**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.
Similarly, nowhere in the 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council will you find the term Roman Catholic. Pope Paul VI signed all the documents of the Second Vatican Council as "I, Paul. Bishop of the Catholic Church." Simply that – Catholic Church. There are references to the Roman curia, the Roman missal, the Roman rite, etc., but when the adjective Roman is applied to the Church herself, it refers to the Diocese of Rome!

*Cardinals, for example, are called cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, but that designation means that when they are named to be cardinals they have thereby become honorary clergy of the Holy Father’s home diocese, the Diocese of Rome. Each cardinal is given a titular church in Rome, and when the cardinals participate in the election of a new pope. they are participating in a process that in ancient times was carried out by the clergy of the Diocese of Rome. *

Although the Diocese of Rome is central to the Catholic Church, this does not mean that the Roman rite, or, as is sometimes said, the Latin rite, is co-terminus with the Church as a whole; that would mean neglecting the Byzantine, Chaldean, Maronite or other Oriental rites which are all very much part of the Catholic Church today, as in the past.

i read that in Greece, the Orthodox call themselves as Roman Catholics and the Latin as Franks

Why can’t “mother and mistress of all the churches” mean simply the church upon which all the other churches are built as their foundation rock and therefore depend on for their catholicity? This would seem to distinguish it as the church built by the Lord himself as he promised to St. Peter. Besides, the phrase “of all the churches” clearly shows it is one distinguished church among many churches but not itself the sum of all the churches.

Actually this is true in much of the middle East, where ethnic Greeks are still known by the name “Rum” stemming from the fact that the Eastern Romans never stopped referring to themselves as Romans or Ρωμαίοι (Romaioi) in Greek, and Western Europeans were typically known by words derived from ‘Frank’ (Φράγκοι in Greek). When Charlemagne was made emperor, there was much scandal, and it caused a sort of name war, in which the Westerners, out of a need to legitimize Charlemagne in the face of the fact that a true Roman emperor existed in the East began to call the Easterners ‘Greeks’ in an attempt to deny that they possessed any Roman heritage. In return, the Easterners began disparagingly to refer to the Westerners as barbarians and Franks, because their emperor was not a true Roman, but a foreign Frankish king.

Along those lines, the name Byzantium is an anachronism, the existence of which we owe to modern historians, as the Eastern Romans never stopped calling their empire Rome, nor is there ever a clear line that one could draw to indicate when Eastern Rome “became” Byzantium.

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