A religion writer passed along this piece from the Wall Street Journal with the instruction to pay attention to the 4th paragraph. So let’s do that:
Cardinal Timothy Dolan said he was praying a lot as he prepared to travel to Rome to participate in the selection of a new pope, but he also has made time to exchange travel tips with his colleague Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“Cardinal George told me to make sure to bring some peanut butter because you can’t get it in the conclave,” Cardinal Dolan said Wednesday following an event at the Carmel Richmond Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center on Staten Island.
It will be Cardinal Dolan’s first time voting in the conclave, the gathering of Roman Catholic cardinals expected to cast ballots next month to pick a successor to Pope Benedict XVI following the pontiff’s announcement earlier this month he would step down. The cardinals head to Rome amid speculation they may defy tradition and name a pope from outside Europe.
“The Holy Spirit knows no boundaries and the church by her nature is Catholic, it’s international, it’s world-wide,” said Cardinal Dolan. “So the prospect of a pope from Latin America, from Asia, is phenomenal and could happen, who knows?”
So let’s have a brief discussion about the difference between catholic and Catholic. The definition for the adjective “catholic” is:
1. broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all; broad-minded; liberal.
2. universal in extent; involving all; of interest to all.
3. pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.
And for the adjective “Catholic”:
1. of or pertaining to a Catholic church, especially the Roman Catholic Church.
a. (among Roman Catholics) claiming to possess exclusively the notes or characteristics of the one, only, true, and universal church having unity, visibility, indefectibility, apostolic succession, universality, and sanctity: used in this sense, with these qualifications, only by the Church of Rome, as applicable only to itself and its adherents and to their faith and organization; often qualified, especially by those not acknowledging these claims, by prefixing the word Roman.b. (among Anglo-Catholics) noting or pertaining to the conception of the church as the body representing the ancient undivided Christian witness, comprising all the orthodox churches that have kept the apostolic succession of bishops, and including the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Church of Sweden, the Old Catholic Church (in the Netherlands and elsewhere), etc.
3. pertaining to the Western Church.
The Roman Catholic Church claims catholicity. As it relates to the 4th paragraph above, this is what Dolan’s statement was referring to. He was saying his church is catholic as opposed to saying that the Roman Catholic Church is the Roman Catholic Church.
This entry from Britannica might further clarify:
(from Greek katholikos, “universal”), the characteristic that, according to ecclesiastical writers since the 2nd century, distinguished the Christian Church at large from local communities or from heretical and schismatic sects. A notable exposition of the term as it had developed during the first three centuries of Christianity was given by St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his Catecheses (348): the church is called catholic on the ground of its worldwide extension, its doctrinal completeness, its adaptation to the needs of men of every kind, and its moral and spiritual perfection.
While I would have imagined that such a post explaining the difference between the Roman Catholic Church and catholicity would have been provoked by a non-Catholic use of the term, this distinction is important for reporters to understand.