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What's in a name?

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  • What's in a name?

    [SIZE=16px][FONT=trebuchet ms]I am a Catholic. I am a Christian. What does that mean?

    Some folk like to think that "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" and speaking of roses that is true but one would be a little disturbed to find a rose called "a stinking carcass". There's more to a name than a mere sound. And what a name brings to mind is a great deal more than the sound of the word by which we pronounce the name.

    Many people, usually from faith traditions outside of the Catholic faith, refer to the Catholic Church as "The Roman Catholic Church" and think nothing of it. Okay, mostly this is a harmless convention that intends no offence. And most take no offence when it is used. But what would be your response if your interlocutor said "I am a Catholic and that is the name I prefer to have used when my faith affiliation is named in conversation with me"? Would you comply and refer to your interlocutor as a Catholic and his/her church as the Catholic church or would you insist on using "Roman Catholic"?

    If you are familiar with Catholic Church documents you will probably have noticed that the Catholic Church is most frequently referred to as "the Catholic Church" - think of the title of the 1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church - and only occasionally is it referred to as the Roman Catholic Church and there's a reason for that. The Catholic Church has twenty three rites and most of them are not Roman. I have friends who are members of the Ruthenian Catholic Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch none of whom would willingly accept being called a Roman Catholic or have their church called the Roman Catholic Church. So if you want to converse with your Catholic brethren without mistakenly giving offence then use the safe path and call them Catholic and their church the Catholic Church.

    I thank you for your indulgence, if you must then you can consider it a quirk of Catholic psychology.

    Kindest regards,
    A Catholic Christian.[/FONT][/SIZE]
    Last edited by peppermint; 06-12-2015, 06:47 PM.

  • #2
    The Roman Catholic Church is usually referred to as just "Catholic", by Protestants.

    But, why "Roman Catholic.." Because the Pope leads from Rome. Because most American Catholic Churches are Roman rite. Because there are other churches that call themselves Catholic but are fully independent of the Pope of Rome.

    And, because Protestants sometimes use the term "catholic", especially in the Apostles' Creed, and we don't want to equate the Roman Catholic Church with the catholic church.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
      The Roman Catholic Church is usually referred to as just "Catholic", by Protestants.

      But, why "Roman Catholic.." Because the Pope leads from Rome. Because most American Catholic Churches are Roman rite. Because there are other churches that call themselves Catholic but are fully independent of the Pope of Rome.

      And, because Protestants sometimes use the term "catholic", especially in the Apostles' Creed, and we don't want to equate the Roman Catholic Church with the catholic church.
      [SIZE=16px][FONT=trebuchet ms]No doubt and no doubt some want to reserve "orthodox" even though it is no part of their denomination's name. I don't quite see the attraction for folk who are not Catholic wanting to reserve 'catholic' and 'orthodox' and probably also 'evangelical' and 'christian' and 'church'. One wonders how many names must be reserved to satisfy the hunger.[/FONT][/SIZE]
      Last edited by peppermint; 06-13-2015, 07:18 AM.
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      • #4
        i like catholic church
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        • #5
          Good afternoon brothers and sisters.

          I agree with peppermint, "Roman Catholic" is a very commonly used term but it is not entirely accurate. In some cases it can be offensive! You have to remember that the Catholic Church is a full union of 24 "churches", and each church has different traditions and history but a common theology. Calling all Catholics "Roman" would be like calling all Baptists "Southern", it is simply not good practice. :p
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          • #6
            Nomenclature is a bit of a problem. The (Eastern) Orthodox do not like the term Eastern Orthodox but it is useful to differentiate them from the Oriental Orthodox. Some Protestants object to the term 'Protestant'.

            Both the (Eastern) Orthodox and (Roman) Catholic Churches use the full title 'One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church' whilst the (Eastern) Orthodox use various shorter terms - Orthodox Church, Orthodox Catholic Church and even Catholic Church. The (Roman) Catholic Church just uses Catholic Church.

            (I use 'Roman' and 'Eastern' in brackets to clarify which grouop I am referring to).

            Personally I don't like the term Roman Catholic Church unless it is referring specifically to the Roman (or Latin) Rite of the Catholic Church.

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            • #7
              [FONT=trebuchet ms, helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=16px]I use Catholic for the Catholic Church, Orthodox for the Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox for those churches that self identify as Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian for those that identify with that faith tradition, and so forth. For the multitude of denominations among the ecclesial communities that arose out of the sixteenth century religious turmoil in north and western Europe I try to stick to the names they choose - Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Evangelical (or Lutheran) and so forth. It usually works well and even though there are common elements in the eccelsial communities it is usually best to reserve Protestant for the Magisterial Protestant denominations all others seem to dislike that name and independents seem either content with Independent or with Non-denominational or even free-church. [/SIZE][/FONT]
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