Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Are There Other "Catholic" Churches?

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Are There Other "Catholic" Churches?

Article excerpt

James Joyce said it best in Finnegans Wake that "Catholic means here comes everybody."

Our word "catholic" comes from a Greek adjective meaning "universal" and "together for the good of all." Early Christians applied it to the church, and our earliest written example comes from Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, in the first decade of the second century.

Identifying Catholics who are not Roman. there are arguably at least three usages: Christians in union with the Holy See whose rituals are not of Roman origin, Christians of Orthodox Churches, and Reformation Christians who profess the Nicene Creed.

Because the Latin (Roman) rite is most widespread in Catholicism, many are unaware that there are thousands of Catholics in union with Rome whose liturgical ritual is derived from elsewhere. The Eastern Catholic Churches to which they belong are autonomous, or self-governing, and they have their own canon law. Their worship takes its historic development from Egypt, Syria, Armenia, and Constantinople rather than Rome.

Latin rite Catholics may be surprised by the differences in liturgy, but they are welcome to partake in communion because of the ecclesial and sacramental unity we share through the Chair of Peter.

One can also validly describe as "catholic" the Christians of the Orthodox churches. Though not in union with Rome, their sacraments and apostolic succession are considered valid by the Roman Catholic Church.

As with the original use of "catholic," the word "orthodox" first served as an adjective that marked a quality of the church itself. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.