“Roman” Catholic?

Many people like to refer to the Catholic Church as the ‘Roman Catholic Church’, which I always find rather amusing. I’ve decided to write this page to clear up this misconception (though I’ll admit it’s been cleared up a thousand times already).

The common misconception is that, since the Catholic Church does find its temporal head in Vatican City (which is in Rome), it must make sense that one can refer to it as the Roman Catholic Church. And while this is true that the temporal head, the Pope, resides there, one must understand that the nature of the Church is much more complex than this. I shall now refer to the Rites of the Church. There are seven “rites”, or liturgical traditions, which exist within the Church. Each rite, though sharing the same teachings and beliefs as  the Roman (Latin) rite, differ in language/cultural and liturgical styles. There are seven rites within the Church:

  1. Latin (Roman)
  2. Byzantine 
  3. Alexandrian/Coptic
  4. Syriac
  5. Armenian
  6. Maronite
  7. Chaldean

All seven of these rites are understood as being equal within the Church, though the Latin rite is by far the most popular:

“Within the Catholic Church … Canonical rites, which are of equal dignity, enjoy the same rights, and are under the same obligations. Although the particular churches possess their own hierarchy, differ in liturgical and ecclesiastical discipline, and possess their own spiritual heritage, they are all entrusted to the pastoral government of the Roman pontiff, the divinely appointed successor of St. Peter in the Primacy.”4 (The Catholic Encyclopedia)

This is one of the many reasons why the Church is understood as Catholic, because we are universal. There is no “one style” or culture that is valid. The Church respects and venerates all of these rites, seeing them as fundamental to the life of the Church. And this is why I absolutely despise it when people refer to the Church as the ‘Roman Catholic Church’. Because while I am a die-hard fan of my own rite (Latin), these other rites are beautiful and should be recognized. Thus, why the term ‘Catholic Church’ is far more proper. A final argument, is that even if we were to say that the Roman Rite is far more popular and well-known, and thus there is nothing wrong with calling it as such (or the even more silly ‘RCC’), we can look at how odd it would be to apply a similar argument to other nations/groups. For example, no one refers to the Muslims as the Indonesian Muslims (since Indonesia is the country with the most Muslims). Likewise, no one would refer to all Americans as “Las Vegas Americans”, or New York Americans”, or “Washington D.C. Americans”. Doing such would be seen as ignorant at best, and offensive at worst. In the same way, the Catholic Church is just that: Catholic. Not just Roman, nor Chaldean or Maronite. Please, share this information with your friends. This is a very annoying misunderstanding which  I find can be offensive to my brothers and sisters in other rites.


  1. Us folks of the Anglican persuasion tend to identify Romans as Romans.

  2. Here is the next step in your thinking. There are over 22 kinds of Catholic churches that are in communion with each other. A church is not a rite but uses a rite and not always in the same way. The churches of the Catholic Church are equal. For example, The Roman church, even with the charism of the papacy, is equal to the Melkite church.

  3. If the infallibility of the Magisterium is not recognized, they are not in the Roman Catholic Church. That applies to the new religion of the post Vatican 2 church, the greatest wrecker of Cathoiicism.

    • If you’re referring to the Catholic Church that accepts Vatican II, a legitimate Ecumenical Council in the lines of Trent, Ephesus and Nicea, then you are wrong. If you are referring to the liberal Catholics who reject Divine Revelation and have this whole “Spirit of Vatican II” nonsense about them, then you are right, that false religion has no place in Catholicism.

      • Approval of religious liberty, ecumenism, sex education in U S bishops’ schools, subsists IN Lumen Gentium para 8, are in the Vatican 2 documents. These have been condemned by Pontiffs yet you say it is a legitimate council. Do you accept that truth evolves and must adapt to the current generation? To give new meaning to ‘truth’ is Supremely condemned. Experts say there are over 400 errors in the 16 – V2 documents. It is strange you claim it is not a false council especially with the many Catholic churches destroyed, schools closed and the loss of people attending. Have you read the book, “Desire to Destroy”?

      • First, Bayleaf, you’d have to cite where you find these teachings. While religious liberty and ecumenism are most likely in there, the idea of “sex education” in Lumen Gentium is absurd. I don’t say it’s a legitimate council, the Holy Catholic Church does. I just follow their lead. No, truth does not evolve nor adapt. What “Experts”, Bayleaf? Friend, the loss of people is not due to Vatican II, that’s what the New Age folk and Dissident Catholics would have you believe. No “Spirit of Catholicism” here. No, I have not read the book. Have you actually read the full 16 documents?

  4. correction of word: Catholicism.

  1. Pingback: MONDAY BYZANTINE EDITION | Big Pulpit

  2. Pingback: Weekend Links: February 2nd, 2013 | The Recovered Catholic

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