Lacking Catholicity

rowleyYesterday, tmatt pointed out that the media’s definition of evangelical has become so skewed that it now includes Eastern Rite Catholics. In the ensuing comments, reader Julia opined:

Why not call us all “Catholics” and dispense with the “Roman” moniker? It’s an English invention to imply control by foreigners. Or else use it for everybody in communion with the Pope.

Commenter Canadian noted:

Julia, some of us Anglicans also consider ourselves catholics and refer to “Roman Catholics” for clarity.

Indeed, the word catholic means universal and is used by many Christians. Those under the authority of Rome don’t get a monopoly on the word. But in conventional usage, we tend to use the word directly in relation to the Roman Catholic Church and its members.

Which is why this Newsweek article by Karen Springen is so silly:

Last week 25-year-old Jessica Rowley became one of about a dozen women nationwide to make a highly unusual career move: she was ordained a Catholic priest. Rowley’s ordination — which took place at Eden Theological Seminary, a progressive institution in Webster Groves, Mo. — is approved by the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, a group of churches that decline to recognize the authority of the pope but see themselves nevertheless as Catholic. This week Rowley — who is also married — begins working full-time as an associate pastor at Saints Clare & Francis, a breakaway parish in Webster Groves.

So a group that doesn’t recognize the authority of the Pope or the Roman Catholic Church ordains a woman? How is this newsworthy? When it comes to Protestant church bodies ordaining females, take a number. Springen then runs a Q&A with Rowley.

NEWSWEEK: Your husband, who is Protestant, helped you realize that you wanted to be a priest. Tell me about that.
I began going to church with him, and he began going to mass with me. At his church there were female pastors. He’s a member of the United Church of Christ. It’s a progressive, mainline Protestant denomination. They ordain women, and they’re open to gays and lesbians in their congregation.

Are you going to have kids some day?
We’re really looking forward to this symbol. “This is my body given for you.” To be a pregnant priest will just add a whole other dimension to those words.

The Ecumenical Catholic Communion doesn’t think it’s a sin for people to be gay, right?
As far as moral teaching goes, we stress the primacy of conscience. It’s important for people to form a moral conscience with the help of a church and a faithful community. Ultimately God helps us with our conscience to make moral decisions. Homosexuality is not inherently sinful. Love in all of its forms can be for the glory of God.

Will you raise your kids Roman Catholic?
We’ll raise our children Christian because we belong to two different church traditions. We’ll let them decide where they want to call their church home. But they’ll be baptized Christian, likely in a joint service.

Are you pro-choice?
We go to back to the primacy of conscience. We stress the formation of conscience in moral matters, such as the pro-life/pro-choice debate. No one is excluded from the table in the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. Jesus never turned anyone away at the table, so neither do we. We feel it’s our responsibility to help people make responsible choices, but that no single person can dictate what God’s will is.

So it’s clearly not just the ordination issue on which Rowley is at odds with the Bishop of Rome. Just because a few people have a renegade interpretation of doctrine does not mean that it has implications for the larger church body. See my previous post on my belief that I’m Miss America. This whole article trades on the power and popularity of the Roman Catholic Church. But, for the ten thousandth time in articles dealing with “Catholic” female priests, it’s all sizzle and no steak.

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  • Jerry

    We’re in wonderland:

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’

    I could have posted this in many of the ‘what does it mean’ topics we’ve had recently, but for some reason this latest piece of silliness brought this back to the surface of my mind.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    As far as what church deserves the title: “Catholic”–which was used by the first generation of Christians after the Bible was written to separate orthodox Christians from heretic or apostate or schismatic groups::: One saint–I think it was St. Augustine–said to just ask the man in the street where the nearest Catholic church is and he will point to the genuinely orthodox Christian community which really deserves the name “Catholic.” It seems to work here in the U.S. today pretty well in every case. From my point of view there is only one genuinely Catholic Church and only encompasses those local churches or parishes in communion with Rome. In traveling by car frequently across large swaths of the U.S. whenever I have had to inquire of strangers about where the nearest Catholic Church is, I have never been directed to an Orthodox Church, an Anglican or Episcopal Church, a Lutheran Church, etc.–even though these churches claim to be genuine heirs to the title “Catholic.”

  • Huw Richardson

    Fr Thomas Hopko gave an interesting talk at my former OCA parish, including a bit about the Greek word “catholic” meaning not “universal” but “whole”. The community that is “catholic” is the community that teaches the “whole” faith. This could be true of any number of ecclesial communities.

    For Romans this wholeness is assumed to require communion with the Pope. Others (including Fr Thomas) do not make this assumption and would continue to protest the Roman community’s right to define the term “catholic.”

    Deacon – for what it’s worth, I don’t think American English and our cultural baggage where, largely, “Catholic = Roman” (and our lack of theological knowledge) is on par with Augustine’s experience. If there happens to be a (theosophical) Liberal Catholic Church parish on the corner, your man on the street, if he knows the name, is just as likely to point you to it.

  • Christopher Johnson

    Man, my home town(Webster Groves) is being mentioned right and left. You have to live here to get how funny this is. To make a long story short, both this woman’s seminary and the church that rents space to her “parish” are United Church of Christ, about as left-wing Protestant as it is possible to be. Here’s another story on this:

  • Eric W

    To echo Huw’s comment:

    Yes, the Greek katholikos καθολικος comes from kata κατα = “according to” + holos ολος = “whole.” St. Ignatius was the first to use this term with reference to the Church:

    8. Flee from divisions, as the beginning of evils. You must all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and follow the presbytery as you would the apostles; respect the deacons as the commandment of God. Let no one do anything that has to do with the church without the bishop. Only that Eucharist which is under the authority of the bishop (or whomever he himself designates) is to be considered valid. Wherever the bishop appears, there let the congregation be; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church. It is not permissible either to baptize or to hold a love feast without the bishop. But whatever he approves is also pleasing to God, in order that everything you do may be trustworthy and valid. — Letter to the Smyrnaeans

    3. Similarly, let everyone respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, just as they should respect the bishop, who is a model of the Father, and the presbyters as God’s council and as the band of the apostles. Without these no group can be called a church. – Letter to the Trallians

    In other words, a proper assembly was a “whole” church, one which included all that was necessary to have a proper Eucharist, which was the focus and locus of Early Christian worship. It did not mean “universal” in its earliest use with reference to the Church.

  • Brian V

    A declaration of relevance to the Newsweek piece can be found here.
    with further commentary here. Witty stuff, indeed.

    When it comes to satire, though, I rather prefer the self-deprecating Horatian sort to the slash and burn tactics of Juvenalian satire. I understood kata holon to stand in contradistinction to hairesis, “to choose.” Surely both those churches calling themselves Catholic and those calling themselves Orthodox have fallen short of the wholeness and right praise these names gesture toward. Creed, canon and apostolic succession were, from the first centuries of the Church, meant to safeguard catholicity and orthodoxy. I hope that, to some degree at least, they have.

    As a member of what a few of my more combative Anglican friends disparage as “the Roman church,” I have an abiding love for Orthodox Divine Liturgy and the people it has, for centuries, formed. It pains me when Catholics and Orthodox score points against one another rather than mourn our divisions and praise God for the riches we share.

    As for those who believe they must choose (or who believe their choice truly constitutes the whole), like the woman interviewed above, Scott Cairns reminds us:

    “…Poor Arius aside, most heretics
    have borne their chosen isolation with something like
    integrity, and have spoken to The Good as well

    as they could manage. Most have spoken quite as well
    as they could see. And it’s not as if any of us
    ever had anything like an adequate view.”

    I enjoy satire and prefer to win those arguments I enter, yet I pray I engage in neither at the expense of patience, charity and hope. For, if God makes all things work together for the good, it may even be that the heretic’s prayer at last turns me decisively to God.

  • John L. Hoh, Jr.

    Are you going to have kids some day?
    We’re really looking forward to this symbol. “This is my body given for you.” To be a pregnant priest will just add a whole other dimension to those words.

    I would have liked to see the reporter as the divine Ms. Priest how her possible pregnancy could have any association with our Lord and Savior giving us his body and blood on the cross and in his supper.

    All in all the lady’s expressed views are vacuous nonsense. “You can come to church. Or not. Whatever your conscience tells you. Sex before marriage–well, your conscience; we don’t moralize.”

    I know among Lutheran circles, where we use the small “c” “catholic,” the term conotates wholeness of the invisible church made up of all believers of all races, tribes, and nations of all time from all denominations. Norwegian Lutheran churches tended to have half-circle communion railings, intended to show the imperfect holy communion here on earth (the other half of the circle is the Church Triumphant, the saints in heaven).

  • Julia

    You are still missing the point.

    The Catholic Church considers itself “orthodox” but does not have a problem with the Eastern part of the church using “Orthodox” as its name.

    Almost all Christian churches practice baptism, but don’t get upset and claim that the “Baptist” Church as claiming exclusivity for itself and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to use that term without all kinds of adjectives added that we non-Baptists decide are appropriate.

    Anglicans and Episcopalians may consider themselves “catholic”, but that word is not part of their names.

    The Catholic Church has the moniker “Catholic” as part of its name. There is no confusion because Anglicans are The “Church of England”, not the “English” Catholic Church. In the US, it’s the Episcopalian Church which may consider itself catholic but does not use it as part of its name. There are no Protestant groups that consider themselves “catholic” who have it as part of their name- with the exception of the Old Catholics which have adopted the adjective “Old” themselves – it was not imposed by others.

    Insistance on sticking on “Roman” is a perjorative. Drop in on the blog “Cranmer” sometime to see what I mean. It is meant to emphasize foreignness and to bring up visions of Guy Fawkes and all of that.

    You identify Mr. Weyrich as an “Eastern Rite Catholic” why don’t you identify other Catholics by their specific rite to be consistent? Mr Weyrich is as much in union with the Bishop of Rome as I am. Be consistent – calle me a “Latinh Rite Catholic” – don’t call me Roman Catholic if you don’t call Mr Weyrich Roman Catholic.

    There is this inecessant griping about the press and others not getting what “evangelical” is. Well, try to “get” it straight what “Catholic” is.

  • Jay

    Every Sunday, Anglicans say “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church,” and that’s not talking about the RCC. I’m told the LCMS used to say that, too, 40 years ago, but TLH (1941) and LW (1982) say “holy Christian” instead, although the footnote on page 142 of LW says “the ancient text: one holy catholic and apostolic Church,” implying that the text was changed due to contemporary associations.

    OTOH, I think it is reasonable to assume that “Catholic” with a capital letter and without any further qualification refers to only one specific denomination, and excludes any group that is not in communion with and does not recognize the authority of the Pope. So a headline that just says “Catholic” is misleading if it refers to a group not affiliated with the RCC. (I’d guess “ex-Catholic” would be most accurate in some cases).

  • Martha

    ” . . The Ecumenical Catholic Communion doesn’t think it’s a sin for people to be gay, right?”

    Here’s some hot news for you, sister: neither does the Roman Catholic Church.

    It’s not a sin to be tempted. It is a sin to yield to temptation, and an even greater sin to say that your sin is not a sin.

    Some other things you may not know: sound does not travel in a vacuum, so all those SF films you see with space battles and the noise of explosions and rayguns? That’s not accurate either.

    I expect to see a big article exposing this shocking deception by Hollywood any day now in “Newsweek”.

  • Eric W

    Some other things you may not know: sound does not travel in a vacuum, so all those SF films you see with space battles and the noise of explosions and rayguns? That’s not accurate either.

    I’m not sure about that. I get/hear sound on C-SPAN, and it’s pretty vacuous to me.

  • str1977


    all squibbles about who has or has not a monopoly on the term Catholic (and Saint Augustine is not actually a help in this, especially not for the situation in predominantely Protestant countries like the UK or the US), I believe that in the quoted passages it does make sense to say:

    … a highly unusual career move: she was ordained a Catholic priest.

    However, it should have been followed by something like

    at least that is what she claims as her ordination was not approved by the Catholic Church, which considers …, but by the Ecumenical Catholic Communion …

    It is after all her claim that she is a Catholic priest but on the other hand, that claim is clearly not in line with the common usage of the term.

    It is not the use of “Catholic” here that is annoying but the nonchalant way of dealing with that conflict.

  • Fr. Fred Ball

    Interesting stuff.

    “Roman” to describe the RCC is decidedly NOT a pejorative term invented by the English, contra what someone posted above. As an example to the contrary, I’ve just been reading thirteenth-century Italian documents in which the term is used by someone deeply loyal to the Roman Catholic Church — St. Francis. He says, “Later God gave me and still gives me such faith in priests who live according to the form of the Holy Roman Church that even if they persecuted me I would still run back to them, because of their position.”

    The Holy Roman Church, NOT the Holy Catholic Church. No, it’s not pejorative – it’s descriptive.

    Most of the genera; descriptors that speak of spirituality or government style or ethos (Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist) have for many, many years been used by more than one communion as part of their name. The fact that someone other than a Roman Catholic is calling herself “Catholic” is neither news nor copyright infringement.

    One of the things I’ve learned through years of parish work and counseling is that when someone’s reaction is disproportionate to the stimulus, there’s often something going on beneath the surface other than the presenting issue. I suspect that’s the case with many in the blogosphere as I marvel at the shrill reaction to this news story. It’s probably more than the use of the term Catholic. How does the fact that it’s a woman play into this? What about the critics’ unfulfilled longings for their own ordination?

    I certainly don’t know what’s going on inside others’ heads without knowing and talking to them personally, but I do know that the ordination of a young woman in a small church in the Midwest is causing quite a stir. Funny how something so many are *certain* is inappropriate, invalid, and insignificant has people pouring so much energy into attacking it.

  • Ben

    I’d just like to praise the Kirkwood-Webster Journal article linked by Christopher Johnson above:

    It’s a far superior article, on the same topic, to the atrocious Newsweek article. It’s just disappointing that it will not reach nearly as large an audience.

  • Mike

    This reminds of an article that one of my local papers (in the Cincinnati area) ran about the ordination of the “first woman bishop of the “Catholic Church,” with the reporter treating it as a straight-up historical moment. Of course, the article turned out to be about a group like the one above, who called themselves “Catholic” but had long ago rejected the Pope’s authority and many of the Vatican’s official doctrines. In a town as heavily Roman Catholic as Cincinnati, I was disappointed that the reporter didn’t do a better job of distinguishing between “Catholic” and “Catholic.”

  • Jason

    Dr. Tristam “Reader Herman” Engelhardt (whose name I mis-spell as often as not) is a stickler for words and a contrarian. He uses “Papist” to refer to those whom we generally refer to as “Roman Catholic.” He refuses to cede catholicity to them for reasons well hashed out here. He also points out that even when the Empire relocated its center to Constantinople, they still referred to themselves as Roman. Even now, if you get in a cab in Istanbul (if you have a date in Constantinople, for instance) and say, “take me to the Romans” you will be driven to the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. I pointed out that “Papist” still does not hit the nail since the Pope of Rome is not the only Pope. The patriarch of Alexandria holds the title as well.

  • Mark Brumley

    I am a Catholic. I may also be called a Roman Catholic, since I understand that to be a Catholic is to be in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, whom I regard as possessing the Petrine Ministry of being the Rock foundation Christ established in his Church. The Holy Roman Catholic Church and variations on that designation are theologically acceptable, with a provisio.

    If called a Catholic, I will not dissent. If called a Roman Catholic, likewise, I will not dissent. If one insists on calling me a Roman Catholic as opposed to a Catholic, I dissent because to insist that I am a Roman Catholic under that circumstance implies that there is another way of being Catholic than to be Roman, which I deny. It implies that the Catholic Church is not the Catholic Church, but the Roman branch or the Roman pretender or some other version of things than the Catholic Church.

    While it is true that the Catholic Church cannot require media or others to refer to her as the Catholic Church, as opposed to the Roman Catholic Church, it is also true that to insist that the Catholic Church be called the Roman Catholic Church because others claim to be Catholic as well, is not to be terminologically neutral. It is to side with those others. It is also to overlook common usage, which frequently designates as “Catholic”, without qualification, those who recognize the authority of the Pope.

    Consider a comparison with the Orthodox Church. I believe that the Catholic Church is orthodox Christianity to the fullest extent. However, I don’t go around correcting people when they speak of the Orthodox Church. I don’t say, for instance, the “putative Orthodox Church” or the “self-styled Orthodox Church”. Why? Because I recognize that whatever I think of the Orthodox Church’s claim to be “orthodox”–and I don’t take it lightly–I recognize that common usage has it to call this entity “the Orthodox Church”. To start talking about the Catholic Church (or Roman Catholic Church) as “the Orthodox Church”, just because I as a Catholic think the Catholic Church is fully orthodox, would only confuse people.

    That is what happens when people insist on the term “Roman Catholic Church” as opposed to the Catholic Church and when they call Anglicans or others “Catholics”. (Note I said “‘Roman Catholic Church’ as opposed to the Catholic Church”.)

    If an Anglican or some other kind of Christian wishes to hold that he belongs to “the Catholic Church” or the “catholic Church” or the “Church Catholic” or similar designations, there is nothing Catholics (those in full communion with the Pope) can do about it except to say that (1) we have different senses of the term “catholic” and (2) such a designation is apt to confuse, given that millions of people commonly use that term to refer to those who belong to the one billion plus Church that recognizes the Pope as the Vicar of Christ.

    I wish there were a mutually acceptable way out of this terminological problem, but I don’t see one.

  • Fr. Fred Ball

    The limits of language are frustrating, indeed. In Richard McBrien’s Catholicism, he spends a bit of time discussing the terminology — why he chose “Catholicism” rather than “Roman Catholicism”. He makes a fairly good case in both directions, acknowledging the legitimacy of use of the term “Catholic” by various churches not in communion with Rome. However, he settles on “Catholicism” as preferable for his purposes — and clearly explains his thinking.

    The admirable thing about McBrien’s work is that he is able to be intellectually and historical honest and charitable to all involved, rather than being reactive and protective of turf or terms.

    Yes, most people probably think “Roman Catholic” when they hear “Catholic”, but most people making that association doesn’t make it always appropriate. I would just as soon not use popular opinion as the basis for determining what’s right.

    On the other hand, those of us in other Catholic communions (whether Eastern, Anglican, Old Catholic, or some other) have an obligation to be clear about who we are and who we are not. My experience is that most do strive for clarity — although there could well be some who do not. Personally, I don’t want to be mistaken for anyone else! :-)

  • Martha

    Look, as far as I’m concerned, this woman can put a teacosy on her head and call herself Empress of Pluto. That’s fine.

    The problem – and one which this reporter should know – is that calling yourself something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.

    Big, splashy starts to stories that go “WOMAN BECOMES CATHOLIC PRIEST!*” but then rely on footnotes buried way down in the body of the text along the lines of “(*not to be confused with that little group led by the old guy in Rome; rather by this we mean that she was promoted to a leadership role in an organisation calling itself the Ecumenical Catholic Church, which as far as we can make out relies completely upon the Unitarian Universalists for seminaries, churches and parishes)” are a tiny bit misleading.

    I mean, would they ever consider printing a story along the lines of “Joe Bloggs was just elected the next President of the United States of America!”, including a series of breathless questions to Mr. Bloggs on his foreign policy, plans for the economy, and why he hopes to appoint Ronald McDonald as the Ambassador to the Moon, only to admit in the next to last paragraph of the story that by “has been elected the next President of the United States of America”, they meant he was elected as President of a small club of twenty-five based in Arizona which calls itself by that title as it disagrees with how the country has developed since 1776?

    By the lights of this story, I am perfectly entitled to call myself Queen of the May, since I have a special connection to that month as my birthday falls therein, and my parents affirmed me in my ambitions as a child?

  • Brian V

    I’ve just been reading thirteenth-century Italian documents in which the term is used by someone deeply loyal to the Roman Catholic Church — St. Francis. He says, “Later God gave me and still gives me such faith in priests who live according to the form of the Holy Roman Church that even if they persecuted me I would still run back to them, because of their position.”

    The Holy Roman Church, NOT the Holy Catholic Church. No, it’s not pejorative – it’s descriptive.

    I thank you for this information, and would appreciate a citation, in order to read the excerpt in its original context. Was Francis using standard thirteenth century terminology? Was he drawing a distinction between those who recognized the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and those, such as Cathars and Waldensians, who did not? Something else?

    The quarrel over terminology here in the comments section redirects me to Wittgenstein and the questions he posed to uncover a word’s meaning(s): “How is the word used?,” and “How is it learned?” Not just “catholic” and “orthodox” will be disputed, I suspect, but “ecumenical,” “symbol,” “sacrament” and “priest,” just to name a few.

  • Fr. Fred Ball

    Certainly – the reference is to the Testament of St. Francis, which he dictated in 1226. There are numerous translations of it on the web, including one at

    Yes, on Wittgenstein. Communication and dialogue happen when we understand how and why others use the words they do, rather than argue about their right to use those words. There’s some truth on the quip that “words don’t mean, people do”.

    Peace and all good.

  • John L. Hoh, Jr.


    TLH (Lutheran hymnal from the 1940′s used by LC-MS and Wisconsin Synod) did use “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” I remember the teachers in Lutheran school going over that meaning with us. I believe the newer hymnals use “universal.”

  • Julia

    Thanks to Mark Rumley, who “gets” what I’m driving at.

    ‘… priests who live according to the form of the The Holy Roman Church’ . . . NOT the Holy Catholic Church. No, it’s not pejorative – it’s descriptive

    It may be descriptive, but it’s not our NAME. What you cite is (1) from before the Reformation and (2) refers to the Roman rite as opposed to the Byzantine/ Greek rites of the Catholic church. Our canon law and rules for religious orders are different. That’s the historical fall-out of the political split between the Latin West centered in Rome and the Greek East centered in Constantinople. It has nothing to do with Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc. etc.
    – - – - – -
    I had an aunt named Grace who was anything but graceful. We did not refuse to call her Grace because we thought other people were more graceful than she. It was her NAME.
    - – - – - -
    When I was young we used to sneak into tent revivals and my friends would call the people “Holy Rollers”. That’s really rude – they were members of the Assemblies of God.

    . . . ‘take me to the Romans’ you will be driven to the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. . . the Pope of Rome is not the only Pope. The patriarch of Alexandria holds the title as well

    If cabdrivers in Istanbul, when asked to take one to the ‘Romans’, drive you to the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople AKA Archbishop of NEW Rome, then the tag ‘Roman’ isn’t all that useful in avoiding confusion, is it? The Patriarch of Alexandria is free to use the title Pope, it just means father. Benedict XVI’s important title is Bishop of Rome.
    - – - – - – - -

    One of the things I’ve learned through years of parish work and counseling is that when someone’s reaction is disproportionate to the stimulus, there’s often something going on beneath the surface other than the presenting issue

    I hope this includes all the times this blog has discussed the use and misuse of the term “evangelical”, which seems to be a very legitimate subject.
    - – - – - – - – -
    It’s my understanding that this blog is for the purpose of discussing the coverage of religion in the press. Terminology is almost always involved. As a lawyer, I have found that it is best to call people by the their official names in court papers. Otherwise, the case is thrown out. Nicknames given by 3rd parties just should not be used in court or in serious journalism.

    BTW growing up in a devout Catholic family and attendng Catholic schools, I think I was 16 or so before I ever ran into the term “Roman” Catholic. I thought it was some kind of religion like mine but different. Over the past 6 months I have been reading a) Ruth Gledhill at The Times of London and b) Archbishop Cranmer’s blog, one of the top 10 blogs in the UK. That’s where I finally grasped the derogatory and snarky nature of the appelation “Roman”, especially in the comboxes.

    OK I’ve had my say. Finis. Thanks for taking me seriously.

  • John L. Hoh, Jr.

    Historical note: Luther referred to those who disagreed with him not as “Romans” but as “Papists.” Maybe that might be a better “label?”

    In the Augsburg Confession groups were labelled by their leaders: “Papists,” “Calvinists,” “Zwinglians,” “Hussites,” ad finitum.

  • James

    I live in upstate New York, and therefore do not understand why Catholics in other parts object to being called Roman Catholics. Nearly every Catholic church in the are has “Roman” in front of “Catholic”…and I doubt that the English are sneaking around putting it up for clarity. So an interesting question for me would be…why the rejection of what is clearly an acceptable term used by the Catholic church itself?

  • TWilson

    I think the comments missed the real point here: Rowley and her husband are Episcopalians straight out of central casting. If Rowley learns to use phrases like “Godself,” “polity,” “full inclusion of the baptized,” and “live into” she could be a bishop before 30 and running the whole show in no time.

  • Chris Molter

    I generally prefer “Roman Catholic” when referring to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Of course, when referring to other rites, using Byzantine Catholic, or Maronite Catholic is proper as well. When referring to the ENTIRE Catholic Church, I do understand that most folks will use “Catholic Church” and “Roman Catholic Church” interchangably and without offense. However, using the term “Roman Church” while specifically omitting the word Catholic usually implies some sort of equivocation or implied attack against the catholicity of the Catholic Church.

    Mark Brumley aptly points out that the speaker’s intent is important.