Saturday, April 18, 2015

Keep the "Roman" in Catholic?

I don't consider this a particularly weighty issue, but it's interesting. When I first shared my thoughts about becoming a Catholic with my Episcopal priest, he (yes, Virginia, they're sometimes men) referred to the differences between "Anglican" and "Roman" traditions. He seemed to have an allergy against using the term "catholic" for Catholics.

This raises the question, "Did the Anglicans coin the term, 'Roman Catholic Church'", as our friend over at Nesciencent Nepenthene asks. Was the reason, perhaps, that Anglicans wished to continue thinking of themselves as "catholics," but just not of the "Roman" variety? Quite likely, I think. Even many Lutherans I know have referred to their tradition as a reform movement "within the church catholic," although they, in turn, seem to have a similar allergy about using the capital letter "C" when using the word "catholic."

I ran into a similar tendency among "liberal" revisionist Catholics who dissented from Church teaching and would say that they sought to become "more Catholic and less Roman." They didn't have the allergy about using the capital letter "C", but they meant by "Catholic" something other than fidelity to the See of Peter.

One reaction to the last tendency is to say, "Keep 'Rome' in 'Catholic'" the way some people say "Keep 'Christ' in 'Christmas," not realizing that the "X" in "Xmas" is the Greek letter symbolizing "Christ" and the first letter of the Greek word for "Christ", namely Χριστός. In that case, the faithful Catholic would see himself as responding to the revisioned by saying, "I'm not merely 'Catholic', by Gum, I'm 'ROMAN Catholic'!"

Having said that, however, I think it makes much more sense to let "Catholic" simply be "Catholic", from the Greek word καθολικισμός, meaning "universal", as in "Universal Church," not just the "Church of Rome" but of the whole world.


Radical Catholic said...

Fr. J. A. Komonchak, currently teaching theology at CUA and Marquette University, wrote an interesting article back in 1997 which intersects with this topic entitled "Modernity and the Construction of Roman Catholicism". It gives the "Roman" component a noteworthy accent. The pdf of the article is a neck-breaker, as it has been scanned horizontally, but it's worth taking the time to copy, flip and paste the scans. It can be found at his blog:

Jacobi said...

In this part of the world the use of the prefix “Roman”, in my youth when society was Protestant, was derogatory, intended to counter the idea that the Catholic Church was the universal Church and also imply we were all “Italians” somewhere down the line. In our now secular society, nothing much has changed.

Personally, I always use the term Catholic, (with a capital C ) when referring in any way to the One, True, Holy and Catholic, Apostolic Church.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Doc. Thanks for the link. We at ABE Ministry are of the opinion that Roman Catholic is apt seeing as how even the Greeks attested to at the Ecumenical Council of Lyons (Denzinger)


Ecumenical XIV (concerning the union of the Greeks)


Profession of Faith of Michael Palaeologus *

465 The same holy Roman Church also holds and teaches that the ecclesiastical sacraments are seven: namely, one is baptism, concerning which we have spoken above; another is the sacrament of confirmation which the bishops confer through the imposition of hands when anointing the reborn; another is penance; another the Eucharist; another the sacrament of orders; another is matrimony; another extreme unction, which according to the doctrine of St. James is given to the sick. The same Roman Church prepares the sacrament of the Eucharist from unleavened bread, holding and teaching that in the same sacrament the bread is changed into the body, and the wine into the blood of Jesus Christ. But concerning matrimony it holds that neither one man is permitted to have many wives nor one woman many husbands at the same time. But she (the Church) says that second and * third marriages successively are permissible for one freed from a legitimate marriage through the death of the other party, if another canonical impediment for some reason is not an obstacle.

466 Also this same holy Roman Church holds the highest and complete primacy and spiritual power over the universal Catholic Church which she truly and humbly recognizes herself to have received with fullness of power from the Lord Himself in Blessed Peter, the chief or head of the Apostles whose successor is the Roman Pontiff. And just as to defend the truth of Faith she is held before all other things, so if any questions shall arise regarding faith they ought to be defined by her judgment. And to her anyone burdened with affairs pertaining to the ecclesiastical world can appeal; and in all cases looking forward to an ecclesiastical examination, recourse can be had to her judgment, and all churches are subject to her; their prelates give obedience and reverence to her. In her, moreover, such a plentitude of power rests that she receives the other churches to a share of her solicitude, of which many patriarchal churches the same Roman Church has honored in a special way by different privileges-its own prerogative always being observed and preserved both in general Councils and in other places.

++++ end quote +++++++++

And then there is Fr. Hardon's Catholic Dictionary
and his entry on Roman Catholicism (and many other sources) but what nails it for Raider Fan is Vatican 1 which repeatedly uses Roman Church, Pontiff etc and infallibly teaches that the Apostolic Holy See of Peter will never fail owing to the promise of Jesus (Whew, especially given today)

It is a are day when our opinions are not vibrating in sympathy; still, syncopation is nothing to sneeze at.

oax tecum, my friend

Flambeaux said...

Then there are all those who are perfectly Catholic and thoroughly not Roman (y'know, the 23 other Churches in communion with the Pope of Rome). We're Catholic, too, but we're not Roman and not interested in being Roman.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Flambeaux. True enough but the paralepsis about Roman Catholic was not intended as a slight; that aside, no matter where we live, no matter what Rite we were born into, Rome is our Capital:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, that you may declare his virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into his admirable light.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Rome is our Capital (Ha!) That might have been said by Roberto Calvi, the man found hanging under Blackfriar's Bridge but Raider Fan intended to write

Rome is our Capitol