Roman Catholic

A term commonly applied today to the Church established by Christ. It has a correct and an erroneous sense. The ordinary name of the Church is Catholic. After the Reformation, various terms of reprobation were applied to the Church, particularly in England, such as "The Romish Church," "The Romish Catholic Church," "Papist Church," or "Popish Church." With the dying down of the more violent phase of the persecution of the Church, a term was invented to designate the Church, without recognizing its claims to be the One True Church, perhaps without intending an odious sense, but still often used to imply that it is foreign and not in accord with the national spirit, or tradition. This term, "Roman Catholic," is generally adopted today as a non-controversIal term and has a recognized legal standing. Yet the term as employed has two entirely different meanings. In the proper sense the prefix "Roman" draws attention to the unity of the Church, and "insists that the central point of Catholicity is Roman, the Roman See of Saint Peter" (Cardinal Vaughan). The improper notion, commonly held by those not members of the Church when using the term "Roman Catholic," is that the term "Catholic" is a genus, of which those who owe allegiance to the Pope form a species. This distinction is repudiated by members of the One True Church, which of its very nature and constitution is incapable of essential division.

New Catholic Dictionary

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