Please Call Us By Our Name

Okay, blog policy time, guys.

I am becoming a little tired of the short hand “RC” or “RCC”, and even of the long hand “Roman Catholic/Roman Catholic Church”.

That is a name for the Church which was dreamed up by English Protestants. Even German Protestants have the good grace to refer to us as “Katholische”.

It is generally polite to call another person by the name they wish to be called (please do NOT call me “Dave”). You might have objections to my name, but do me the courtesy of calling me by it.

Same goes for the Church to which I belong. I belong to a Church called “The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne”. I do not belong to an entity called “The Roman Catholic Church” or any version there of. I DO belong to a body which calls itself “The Catholic Church”. You might have a problem with that. You might want to protest (as in “protest-ant”?) that your “church” is a part of the “catholic church”. Good for you. Go ahead and call your “church” that then. Call your church “God’s Own and Only True and Apostolic Church of Christ and No Other” if you like, and I will refer to your “church” by that name.

So. Please – on this blog – no more of this “RCC” stuff, okay? The Church to which I belong calls itself “The Catholic Church”- as in PE’s oft stated “The Catholic Church the Catholic Church the Catholic Church”. Go and write it out a hundred times if it will help.

End of rant. Time for bed.



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145 responses to “Please Call Us By Our Name

  1. Spot on David!

    Catholic Church – it’s as simple as that – as most people know.

    All other adjectives are superfluous and often only used for derogatory purposes.

  2. Actually David, the church to which you belong has even called itself the ‘Roman Catholic Church’ from time to time (e.g. the 1977 Common Declaration with the Anglicans), and ‘Roman Catholic Church’ is used by the Oxford English Dictionary to refer to it, a usage every other dictionary I have been able to consult this morning also acknowledges.

    While I grant one should call a person by the name they prefer, I really see no problem with calling a human institution by a commonly accepted and understood term, especially one it has itself used. So, I really think you ought to be more liberal about your policy…lighten up!

    • The term “Roman Catholic Church” has occured in ecumenical documents from time to time particularly with English speaking protestants – largely at the insistence of the protestant party. Here in the Victorian Council of Churches we are listed as “Roman Catholics” too. I’m sick of it. It isn’t who we are.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        You got that right! Unfortunately not in the sense you mean.

      • OK, David, the British context of some documents may explain that, but your church also calls itself the ‘Roman Catholic Church’ in its dialogues with the Orthodox, and also, of course, in its dialogues with the Lutherans in the US & here. May I also point out that I have seen cardinals officially referred to in Vatican documents as cardinals of the ‘Roman Catholic Church’. It’s common usage, man, accept it for what it is and move on. Why, we Lutherans have long since shrugged off the sectarian connotations of the name you Papists applied to us.

        OK, I guess ‘Papist’ is out of order too, eh?

        Pardon me and pass the port!

        • You are in your full rights to call yourself the “Evangelical Church”, as in fact the Protestant Church in Germany does, ifyou would prefer that to “Lutheran”. And, despite the claim that we too are an “evangelical” (adjective) Church, we would call you by that name.

          I conceed that the situation in which “Roman Catholic Church” most often appears – and just about the only case where Catholics are prepared to wear this title – is in ecumenical contexts. I am saying that especially in Ecumenical contexts, we should call each other by our names.

  3. Christine

    We-e-e-lllll — actually the “Roman Catholic Church” only refers to the Roman rite. The Catholic Church also encompasses those churches that use Eastern liturgies.

    If I recall the “Roman” usage came about after the Reformation and was used rather perjoratively, as was the name “Lutheran” for the churches of the Augsburg Confession.

    Most Catholic Churches here in the U.S. called themselves just that “Catholic Churches.”

    So I hereby declare myself a chief offender, having used the RC and RCC acronyms myself.

    And will promptly cease and desist 🙂


  4. Salvatore

    Well actually, your Catholic Church is not the only one in town; that Ukrainian chap down road is just as Catholic as you but is most definitely not a member of it, for example. And if he has the courtesy to use the appropriate adjective in describing himself and his Church shouldn’t you do the same?

    • And, Salvatore, if it is just ‘The Catholic Church’ and ‘Catholics’, it makes one more than a little curious as to why Bishop Peter Elliot has said that Anglicans who accept the ordinariate may call themselves ‘Anglican Catholics’.

      • Salvatore

        Well it would, except that apparently His Lordship has repudiated the term:

        So converts from Anglicanism will still be a subset of the Roman (or Western or Latin) Church – as they should be. 😉

        • Memo to self: Damian Thompson sometimes gets it wrong.

          While on the subject of ecclesial nomenclature, though, I have a little Russian Orthodox service book whose title page tells me it was published by the ‘Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America’. It’s the ‘Greek Catholic’ part that is most interesting, of course, and one can only assume it was inserted as a claim to catholicity but distinguishing itself from ‘Roman’ catholicity. I believe this church body is now known as the ‘Orthodox Church in America’, which smacks of being another ambit claim.

          • Salvatore

            Well, I’d normally take ‘Greek Catholic’ to refer to one of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches – the Ruthenian Catholic Church was particularly numerous in America at the time – which might also explain ‘Russian’. The simplest way to find out would be to see if there’s an intercession for the Pope in the Great Ektenia (Litany) that opens the Divine Liturgy.

            • I don’t care what anyone chooses to call themselves or why. For eg. despite the fact that we would all like to say that our Church is “orthodox” we do not deny the title “Orthodox” to those Churches who chose to call themselves by this name. Call us what we call us. That’s my point.

            • Hi again Salvatore,

              No, no, this is definitely a Russian Orthodox service book, not a Uniate one. The Pope is not mentioned in the diptychs! Although I believe a large number of the membership of this church body were once ‘Russyn’ (i.e. Carpatho-Russians of the former Hapsburg Empire) Uniates who converted back to Orthodoxy under the priest Alexis Toth, who has since been canonised by the Orthodox Church in America. The OCA was granted autocephaly by the Patriarchate of Moscow, its mother church, in 1970.

      • The members of the Anglican Ordinariates may wish to call themselves “Anglican Catholics” precisely because they do not consider themselves “Roman Catholics”. If any specific local Church wishes to use an adjective to speak of its cultural, ethnic, or even ritual identity, it is quite within its rights to do so (the fact that the Ordinariates will not ecclesiologically actually be a local church could be what his Lordship is getting at). The fact is, the Catholic Church (either as a whole or just the Latin rite) does not. We are not inventing new names for ourselves, we are insisting on the name we already have and which we already use.

    • I am not sure I get your point, Salvatore. The adjective “Ukrainian” in “Ukrainian Catholic Church” does not only refer to a rite, but also to a particular ethnic and geographical group. The Latin rite of the Catholic Church sometimes erroneously called the “Roman Catholic Church” is neither ethnically nor geographically Roman.

      • Salvatore

        OK, I’ll try again.

        The term ‘Ukrainian’ in ‘Ukrainian Catholic’ actually refers specifically to the “Autonomous Particular Church” into which our hypothetical neighbour was enrolled at Baptism, and to which he remains attached for his entire life. You, on the other hand, are a member of the Latin Church and so for you the appropriate designation is “Latin Catholic.”

        Now, in our society the term ‘Roman’ is the usual one used (in preference to ‘Latin’); and you are certainly within your rights to object to the former if you like. But if you do, I think that some other adjective is necessary to take its place. There is no such thing as ‘just’ Catholic, because one is always attached to one of these Autonomous Particular Churches. The Faith is not some deracinated religious philosophy, but rather is always known and lived in the context of a particular cultic and cultural tradition. And I fail to see why this shouldn’t be reflected in the names we call ourselves (and each other).

        The tendency for the World (and for some Latin Catholics) to confound the “Catholic Church” with the “Latin Church” is due no doubt to the vast numerical superiority the later enjoys over her sister Churches. But it shows scant respect for the dignity of the other Churches of the Catholic Communion, and I’m certain this is the last thing you would wish to convey.

        Sorry for the length.


        • Salvatore,

          It is absolutely my intention that we do not “confound the “Catholic Church” with the “Latin Church”” – that is partly what got me going on this.

          There are names which are descriptors and names which are proper names of entities.

          As a descriptor, I am certainly a “Latin Catholic”. That describes the fact that I belong to “Roman” or “Latin” rite in the same way that “Ukrainian Catholic” is a descriptor for those who belong to the rite of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which is as you say an “Autonomous Particular Church”. But while it is not an “Autonomous” Church, the “particular church” or the “local church” to which I belong has a proper name which is “Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne”. So, although this particular Church belongs to the Latin/Roman rite, it is not right to call this Church by the proper name “Roman Catholic Church/Archdiocese of Melbourne”. “Roman” doesn’t appear in our name anywhere except in the proper name of our financial and legal entity where the entity (for legal reasons) was set up as the “Roman Catholic Trusts Fund”.

          So I am quite within my rights (but will not insist upon it) to describe myself as a Melbourne Catholic. That fit’s our ecclesiology. (Nb. There is no such entity as the “Australian Catholic Church” because the various dioceses in Australia do not collectively make up a true local Church.)

          As you can see, ecclesiology is one of my main concerns here.

          • Salvatore

            Ah! Now I begin to see.

            So the question really comes down to:

            1. What the Archdiocese of Melbourne actually calls itself (a moot point as far as I can see – at least I’d need to see more evidence that the banner of the diocesan website) and
            2. Whether the chosen name is an accurate and appropriate one in a city that currently enjoys the ministrations of at least four parallel Catholic hierarchies.

            On this latter point I fear we may have to agree to disagree.

            For what it’s worth I think you tend to overemphasise the importance of the Particular Local Church at the expense of the Particular Ritual Church. It is surely the latter which is the primary and enduring determinant of your life as a Catholic; the former is just an accident of domicile. If you moved to Ballarat tomorrow you’d cease to be a member of the Archdiocese of Melbourne immediately; but no matter where you go you’ll always be a Latin Catholic – with all that that implies. Which is why I find the idea of a ‘Melbourne Catholic’ so … odd. It gives a obscure and secondary descriptor telling us nothing about you except where you live, in place of a primary and relevant one which tells us almost everything we need to know about you as a Catholic.

            Anyway, time for bed.

  5. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    What complete bullroar.

    When I was an RC, the idea was, the church (meaning the RCC) properly speaking has no name, but is known among men by some names, usually the Catholic Church or the Roman Catholic Church, but neither of these is satisfactory in terms of the church’s self-understanding. Such terms may be used in legal documents or other means of communication but do not express the reality of church. For example, your usage “Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne” is not really what it is; there is no other archdiocese of Melbourne than the Catholic one, but as other church bodies do use the Roman imperial term “diocese” (which comes from Diocletian, that real friend of Christians) the expression Catholic (arch) Diocese of XYZ served to identify it from those other bodies. The designation “Roman” is used to identify its “communion” with the diocese of Rome whose bishop is known as the Pope (the Eastern rites have popes too, but we’ll leave that alone).

    So even in this, you don’t sound very Catholic to me. Just newspeak. If I were still Catholic (pardon me a moment while I take some Pepto a the thought) I wouldn’t have the slightest problem using RC or RCC, any more than I would (or do, for that matter) calling an Episcopal priest Father. not at all as an accurate statement of reality, but for purposes of communication, since, as was noted above, everyone knows to what you refer regardless of agreement with it.

    Judas, and they say Lutherans need to lighten up!

  6. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    PS — has it occurred to you that maybe others are equally tired of the usages “the Church” or “the church” to be code for the Roman Catholic Church unless further qualified? Such usage assumes an RC ecclesiology not shared by all. But I use it here because they are, in this context, understood without having to engage in all sorts of wordplay.

    • Of course our ecclesiology is “not shared by all”. Not a reason for changing it, as far as I can see. What we name ourselves is intricately tied up in what we understand ourselves to be.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Pig’s. Lutheran is a horsecrap name for what we are and Luther rightly didn’t want it, and so is Protestant, and both of them originate in derogatory senses, but we ourselves use them, hell, it’s Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, which may not tell you what we are but you know who is meant when you say it. Later on we can get into stuff about “Lutheran” and protesting the Second Diet of Speyer.

        Nor did I say you should change your ecclesiology, bogus as it is, because of this at all. I said, if you want people to knock off with RC, RCC etc maybe you should pay some attention to what others would like the RCC to knock off too out of similar concerns. But the RCC cares only for itself so I don’t expect that any time soon, or ever, realistically.

        • I call the Church to which you belong the “Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod”. I call you a “Lutheran” as a descriptor, although I grant that this is not the proper name of a church. If you would like me to call you something else, just let me know and I will call you whatever you are proud to be called.

          “Christian”, anyone?

  7. Christine

    Er, I just remembered — the diocesan cathedral downtown signs as “The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist” and many of the older, ethnic parishes still use “Roman” Catholic as identifiers.

    So, was gibts?


    • My guess about “was gibt’s” is that this is a nomenclature that grew up where Catholics were in a minority among English speaking protestants, and basically grew up with the name that the English speaking protesants gave them. In places where there is less ecumenical diversity, or a little more confidence on the part of the local Catholic Church, “Catholic Church” is the name on the signs. Nevertheless, in all Church documents, the Catholic Church calls herself the Catholic Church.

  8. Moretben

    Excuse my chuckle, David. I used to hate “RC” and “RCC” myself. Today, no longer persuaded that the RCC is what it thinks it is, “RCC” now seems entirely just and appropriate. You’re a “denomination”, that’s all. Sorry!

    • Well, that sort of just proves my point, doesn’t it? What we call ourselves is directly linked to who we think we actually are. Giving us a name other than the one we call ourselves is projecting onto us what you think we are, not our own self-identification. In this day and age, we generally see it as courteous to respect people’s self-identification, even if we think it is a load of baloney – or fritz, as the case may be.

  9. R J Stove

    Overall I agree with Mr Schütz (for whatever my agreement might be worth) but there is one policy area, not mentioned so far, where the “Roman” addendum seems not only desirable but necessary. That is, in dealing with Anglo-Catholics who call themselves simply “Catholics”. (I don’t mean “Anglican Catholics”, although that phrase is also quite common; I mean “Catholics”.) Of whom there appear to be rather a lot in Melbourne …

    • Yes, and they are loudest in insisting that we are “Roman Catholics”. It all belongs to the old Anglo-Catholic Branch Theory of ecclesiology. It is not our ecclesiology, and accepting the name “Roman Catholic” only strengthens this non-Catholic ecclesiology in the minds of those who use it.

      • Dear David,

        Brother, if you want to refer to yourselves as ‘Catholics’, go ahead and do so, who am I to stop you? My point is that Roman Catholic is accepted English usage and is even acknowledged by your church body, and while you ‘own’ your blog and can have any policy you like, I respectfully suggest you refrain from censoring your commenters in this way. No offence is intended, believe me, at least as far as I am concerned.

        Now, David, when you go to work tomorrow and sit in your office, reflect on this fact, the building you are in and the magnificent St Patrick’s cathedral down the street, and presumably all the other real property the Archdiocese of Melbourne owns, is owned by ‘The Roman Catholic Property Trust’ !

  10. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Holy crap, there’s a ton of them in Omaha too, and I don’t know a single one who would say the church he belongs to is the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha, or expect comprehension from any one including other Catholics if he did.

    • Looking at the Omaha website, they just call themselves the “Archdiocese of Omaha” and wherever the word “Catholic” occurs on the website, it is without the adjective “Roman”.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        That’s apt, since like all postconciliar “Catholic” stuff there isn’t a damn thing Catholic or Roman about them except a hermeneutic of continuity in bank accounts and real estate.

        But back to the nomenclature, the point still applies. Neither I, were I to lose all sense and join that bunch, nor any I know in that bunch if asked what church they belong to would respond The Archdiocese of Omaha. They give the parish name, like Pius X down the street where I am “supposed to belong”, kma, or say Catholic or Roman Catholic.

        God bless me, it’s the bleeding Oracle of Delphi again, or worse, a gnostic cult so gnostic you can’t even call it by its name unless you’re an initiate beyond even its butts in the pew.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Damn. Had to risk losing lunch looking at the bleeder. Yep, nothing about Catholic on the home page. Nothing about Jesus Christ either.
        But I sure got told the US Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the current health care bill. Way to proclaim the Gospel guys.

  11. R J Stove

    Well, Melbourne has always had a biiiiiiiiiiiig Anglo-Catholic contingent, for deep-seated historical reasons that others doubtless perceive but that are unknown to me. If you go into a Melbourne Anglo-Catholic church – as I’ve occasionally done for an organ recital – you always see signs urging you to genuflect. These guys really think that they are the real Roman deal. Either they never got the Apostolicae Curae memo, or else they take the line that (a) there were blips in the document’s translation, (b) Vatican II abolished the document in toto, etc., etc.

    This is the total opposite of Sydney Anglicanism, which from the year dot has been Evangelical and Low Church, and is more so now than it ever was before (although until recently its Low Church orientation was perfectly compatible with having, in its services, decent Anglican choral music by people like William Byrd; naturally this was too good to last under the present Sydney Anglican dispensation).

  12. An Liaig

    The term Roman Catholic is an annoying but useful shorthand when dealing with people who don’t understand the Church. In this I agree with PE (gasp!), the Church has no proper name. It is simply the Church. Roman can not be applied to the whole church in communion with the pope because it manifestly does not apply to the eastern rite churches. Properly, it does not even apply to the whole of the Western or Latin rite, since those who worship in the Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Carthusian or Dominican rites are also part of the same church community. Again I find myself chanting with PE (although perhaps not in the same spirit) – it is the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church. In heaven above as on the earth beneath – the Catholic Church!

  13. R J Stove

    One last comment from me and then I’m finished. The tale is told that in about 1900 – after the High Anglicans in England had started founding convents and monasteries of their own – Pope Leo XIII gently chided one of the post-Manning English Cardinals (Gasquet? Merry del Val? I can’t remember) for not apprising him of these developments. “Why didn’t you tell me that so many English were returning to the Faith?”

    So the Cardinal in question had to break to His Holiness the terrible news that the new convents and monasteries (whatever their superiors’ protestations) were actually about as Catholic as the Loyal Orange Lodge. This truth many others have discovered in different contexts: merely because it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck …

    Incidentally talking of the Orangemen, at least one Catholic Duke of Norfolk used to participate in (English, not Northern Irish) public Orange meetings. Work that out.

  14. Louise

    Come on everyone, let’s sing along with PE: “the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church.”

  15. Peregrinus

    One of the OED definitions of “nominalism”:

    “the practice of attributing significance to the words used to describe a thing rather than to the thing itself”

    The OED admits that this sense is “obs. rare”, which is unfortuate, because I think it describes an attitude which is (a) fairly common and (b) not all that helpful.

    We name things in order to distinguish them from other things so that, when we are communicating with one another, we can all understand what we are talking about. There is no rule of God or Nature which says that everything must have a name, or that each thing can have only one name and that, if a thing is referred to by more than one name, only one name is the “right” name, and all the others are in some sense incorrect. A good name is one which will effectively identify the thing to which it refers, and which isn’t gratuitously offensive. A thing can have more than one good name.

    How we name a thing will depend on what similar things we are trying to distinguish it from. The Eastern Grey Kangaroo is so named because (a) it is found only in the Eastern States, and (b) it is grey – both characteristics which help to distinguish it from other kangaroos.

    The “Roman Catholic” terminology, I think, originates in Britain, where the dominant Anglican religious tradition also aspired to catholicity. “Roman” was helpful, because it distinguished those who aspired to catholicity and were in communion with the Bishop of Rome from those who aspired to catholicity but weren’t in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

    Since communion with the Bishop of Rome is indeed a core aspect of our tradition, and not at all something we are coy about, there is no reason why we should take offence when people use it to indentify us, and to distinguish us from those of other religious traditions.

    Historically, when Catholics objected to the “Roman Catholic” label – an objection not commonly made, by the way – they were usually motivated not by a desire to deny their communion with the Bishop of Rome, but by a desire dispute the Anglican aspiration to catholicity; the were asserting catholicity as an exclusive characteristic of the Catholic Church. While they might, of course, hold that view, they couldn’t really expect Anglicans to share it, and I don’t see that they could feel aggrieved because Anglicans declined to adopt a nomenclature which supported the Catholic theological understanding of Catholicity.

    In some contexts, “Roman Catholic” can cause confusion. Christine, it seems, understands it to refer only to churches which use the Roman rite, and so she doesn’t think it embraces the Eastern Catholic churches. Nul points, Christine; the Latin church uses the Roman rite, the only one celebrated in Latin; the Roman church normally embraces all churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome. But the confusion is more than understandable, and suggests that in the US context, where Eastern churches are a more significant part of the cultural landscape than in Britain, “Roman Catholic” can confuse.

    In short, so long as “Roman Catholic” is unambiguous in context, I don’t see any objection to it. But it’s your blog, David.

    • Salvatore

      “…the Roman church normally embraces all churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome.”

      And yet I’ve never known non-Latin Catholics to describe themselves as ‘Roman’. Which suggests that the only people who regard ‘Roman Catholic’ as synonymous with ‘Catholic’ are Latin Catholics.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Latin Catholics, who in the hell are they? Must be those people who don’t speak Latin and don’t use Latin in worship either now but argue over translations of a rite written in Latin that hardly anyone hears that way. You know, RCs.

        • Peregrinus

          Americans, who in the hell are they? Must be those people who seek to follow the navigational and cartographical principles of Amerigo Vespucci.

          History unfolds, Terry. Deal with it.

          • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

            Well hellskis bellskis Your Perininity, I actually try to avoid “American” in reference to people like me, ie from the US, which is only part of a part of America. We’re just the United States of America, not America itself. There’s North America, which we share with others, South America, and Central or Latin America, where they don’t speak Latin either. They are all Americans, in the sense of from the Americas. Hell, our Indians, some of which are among my kids’ ancestors (Cherokee to be exact) aren’t Indian at all! Judas on a raft.

            That said, there is no lack of clarity that the name of the country is the United States of America. Likewise, conversationally, it is understood that the reference “American” refers to that country though literally it is incorrect, and likewise that unless context or some other qualification indicates otherwise, that “Indian” refers to our aboriginal peoples.

            Great Judas on walkabout, it’s enough to make me reach for my didgeridoo. And yes, I bloody have one.

      • Peregrinus

        And yet I’ve never known non-Latin Catholics to describe themselves as ‘Roman’. Which suggests that the only people who regard ‘Roman Catholic’ as synonymous with ‘Catholic’ are Latin Catholics.

        Mmm. I think that’s because Eastern Catholics are generally keen to draw attention to their Eastern-ness, and “Roman Catholic” doesn’t do that. Generally, Eastern Catholic are more concerned that you should understand that they are not Latins than that you should understand that they are Catholic. (They have good historical reasons for this attitude.)

    • Peregrinus,

      There is no rule of God or Nature which says that everything must have a name, or that each thing can have only one name and that, if a thing is referred to by more than one name, only one name is the “right” name, and all the others are in some sense incorrect. A good name is one which will effectively identify the thing to which it refers, and which isn’t gratuitously offensive. A thing can have more than one good name.

      This is true if the “name” is just a description. But if it is a proper name, then the name is more significant than just a signifier (if you get what I mean!). It embodies the identity of the named person or entity. For instance, I am David Schütz. There are other David Schütz’s, but I a David Schütz and not Bob Smith. I am not even Dave Schütz. David Schütz is my name. There is no better name for me. I am me and not someone else.

      Same with the Holy Name of God (which neither we nor the Jews should utter), and the Holy Name of Jesus, and (and this always causes confusion) the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. These are proper names, not descriptions, not signifiers, not metaphors. They are immutable.

      So we are the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne because that is our name. It reflects exactly who we are. You don’t get a choice in what you call us, any more than you get a choice in what you call me.

      • Tony

        You don’t get a choice in what you call us, any more than you get a choice in what you call me.

        You mean anyone who refers to you in any circumstance has to do so in the form of ‘David Schütz’?

        Shutzie, Davo, maaate! Get over yourself!

        I can understand you being upset when such expressions are used in a pejorative way, but I don’t see a lot of evidence of that with this expression.

        I can’t see why it’s so important to you.

        • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

          God bless me sideways, maybe I have to give up my occasional “Der Schuetzmeister” or “Davula”, even “Davidula”. The former being half fast German spoofing (holy crap, what if die Christine gets all riled up now!) and the latter reflecting my acculturation through many years of working for Ashkenazic Jews. Holy crap if I wasn’t called boychick at least once a day I’d think I was in the wrong place –and that was from my Gentile manager!

      • Peregrinus

        “So we are the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne because that is our name”

        Actually, it’s not. On you’re consistently referred to simply as the “Archdiocese of Melbourne”, while the dioceses of other churches are referred to as, e.g., the “Anglican Diocese of Melbourne”, the “Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne”.

        And, while I don’t have access to the chancery files, I suspect that if you trawl through the most official and definitive documents, “Diocese of Melbourne”, and later “Archdiocese of Melbourne” will be the constant usage – right back to the rescripts of 15 June 1947 and 31 March 1874 by which the diocese was respectively founded, and elevated to metropolitan status; the birth certificates, so to speak.

        “Catholic”, in short, is not part of the name; it’s the descriptor which the Archdiocese itself generally chooses to add in order to acknowledge the existence of [i]other[/i] bodies called the “Diocese of Melbourne”, and/or to avoid confusion with them.

        And I think you’ll find that this is generally true of Catholic dioceses throughout the world.

        To some extent this also depends on whether there is any degree of confusion and, if so, with whom. In Ireland, for instance, the “Diocese of Galway” needs (and uses) no descriptor ( – there is no other diocese of that, or a similar, name. Whereas the Diocese of Down and Connor does use a descriptor ( but don’t be fooled by the url – that is the diocesan website), no doubt to avoid confusion with the (Church of Ireland) Diocese of Down & Dromore or the (Church of Ireland) diocese of Connor.

        And, while “Catholic” may be the commonest descriptor used for this purpose, it’s not the only one. Comments above point to instances of Catholic dioceses (or other entities) preferring “Roman Catholic” in some contexts. It’s very common in the US, to the point where “Roman Catholic” or “rc” is often incorporated into the url. (This may have something to do with a desire to acknowledge the independent existence of Eastern Catholic dioceses though, as I’ve indicated, I think if so it is a based on a mistake. It’s true that the US is a predominantly Protestant country, but it’s not an Episcopalian Protestantism, so I don;’t think this usage is in deference to Protestant sensibilities or Protestant usage.) And in some parts of the world – India, Poland, the Middle East – “Latin Catholic” or simply “Latin” would tend to be used.

        I think you are probably right to suggest that a practical and courteous rule of thumb is to adopt whatever descriptor a diocese (or other entity) itself adds. I don’t think, though, that a failure to do so should be regarded as a rejection of someone’s (or something’s) “name”, because it isn’t. I also think, given that Catholic practice in regard to which descriptor to adopt is inconsistent, some degree of laxity can and should be forgiven. Plus, I don’t think it’s a good look to get too uptight about this.

    • Pere,
      I believe St Boniface refers to the ‘Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church’ in one of his letters, which I suppose could be classed as British usage, but certainly pre-dates the Reformation!

  16. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    What an utter irony that a religion about nothing but itself (God, why yes I believe in God because I believe in his Catholic Church, Jesus, sure I believe in him because I believe in his body the Catholic Church, Holy Spirit, sure I believe in him because I believe in the church he guides, the Catholic Church) cannot agree on what even to call itself. This authoritative magisterium can’t even supply that.

    I understand that your private Protestant “Catholic Church” resolves Protestant difficulties you could not resolve in Protestantism. That’s fine. Also, the “Catholic Church” of which you speak has only tangential relation to anything the Catholic Church taught me, particularly pre Vatican II, which has been my message here. Fine too.

    Yet here lately that your private “Catholic Church” is only tangentially related to other both conservative and liberal postconciliar “Catholic Churches”, they no less than yours appealing to the same sources (Kellmeyer and my man Brian specifically), as well as anything previously identifiable as the Catholic Church.

    Now there’s dispute about what to even call this unholy mess. Wow.

    Well, whatever that, it is your blog and you can run it however you want. Blogging comboxes are hardly the stuff of scholarly papers, sometimes more akin to texting. If you find RC and RCC, even when written in full, to violate the policies of this blog that will not be allowed, just, hard as this may be in a Catholic mindset, plainly say so and I will remove them, and me, from this blog. Hell, I’m busy enough editorially removing the pornographic anonymous comments that periodically appear on mine.

  17. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    PS. OMG, even bloody roos have to be invoked to explain The, I mean the, I mean, oh hell I know what I mean but we don’t know what to call it!

    • Peregrinus

      You must understand, Terry, that on this board we do not consider kangaroos to be something exotic. They are fairly mundane.

      Gridiron, on the other hand, is exotic.

  18. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Great Judas at the pet store, Perry, whether they are exotic or not is not the point. Nor are they exotic to me which is why I called them roos as I learned to do. I’d have said the same thing had you used the fact of the many words for snow, whereas we only have one, in Eskimo — which itself is controversy, is it Eskimo, Esquimaux, or neither, the term Inuit being more PC except it leaves out the Yupik, not to mention the Aleuts. And I agree with your point, actually; my point was that it is incredible that such verbal gyrations have to be employed to even refer to the RCC in some quarters.

  19. Fr Ronan Kilgannon

    I remember hearing that during an audience in St Peter’s square, Pope John Paul II had left his jeep and was walking, with difficulty, up to his chair. A young priest from the North American College called out, ‘Holy Father, pray for the American Church’. The Pope swung round and called back: ‘Father, there is no such thing as the American Church, I will pray for the Catholic Church in America’.

  20. Peter

    Hmm, I can’t believe I’m about to say this but I disagree with you on this one David.

    It is the reality of our ecclesiology that determines how we name things in this category, not some purely self determining principle. Since the nature of ‘church’ is the battle ground (or area of polite discussion if you like) of most of the discussion that goes on here it is a little too much to ask that people agree to your (our) self designation in advance. Almost like a same sex ‘couple’ demanding that we all agree to call their relationship a ‘marriage’ before we begin the debate on same sex relationships.

    I agree with you that the designation “Roman” IS deliberately and pointedly offensive. On the other hand, I’m almost certain that the Church’s self designation ‘Catholic’ is just as offensive to those finding themselves in one or another group outside of the visible bounds of that claim.

    The point is we can’t claim something as given here without excluding and possibly offending people who not only disagree but have staked their life, and eternal salvation, on a different view.

    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      Blow me out the door, roll me down the street, sweep me up and put me in the dustbin. I think I am about to agree with Peter — isn’t that another of these Lutheran pastors who fell for the Roman lie that turns up here once in a while?

      Oh wait, I haven’t staked my life on this, since the RCC in recent times and never in these parts has hunted down those who disagree, and I sure as hell am not staking my eternal salvation on the the RCC’s claim about anything let alone its name, nor LCMS either, but without one plea except his blood was shed for me.

  21. Tony Bartel

    I hate to rain on your parade, but legally in Victoria the property is held under the Roman Catholic Trusts Act 1907, which in section 2 defines Church for the purposes of the Act thus:

    “Church” shall mean the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Archdiocese of Melbourne can call itself what it wants, but legally its trustees hold the property for the Roman Catholic Church.

    Really, I don’t see what the problem is. If your Church defines communion with the Bishop of Rome as being essential to the nature of the Church, then why should it object to the adjective Roman.

    • Yes, I looked into this too Tony, and my suspicions were confirmed: the property is all the possession of the ‘Roman Catholic Property Trust’ of the archdiocese. The same situation pertains in every other diocese in Australia, as far as I can determine.

      • I am not stupid, guys, I know that this is the name that appears on my pay sheet each month. The fact is that it is the name of a legal and financial entity, not the name of the Church to which I belong. The Church to which I belong operates legally and financially, but not canonically, under this name. It was a name that was foisted upon us by the Anglo establishment at the time. Surely you are capable of making the distinction?

        • I think we’re just suggesting, David, that the whole matter is not as clear-cut as you think it is.

          By the way, as I mentioned above, I’m sure St Boniface refers to the ‘Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church’ somewhere in his letters – perhaps someone with more time than me could track it down? If correct, that suggests that this usage pre-dates the Reformation and the existence of any Anglo/Anglican establishment.

  22. David,

    Just so we can all be clear on this, is this policy on the use of the nomenclature ‘Roman Catholic Church’ and its abbreviations going to be ‘proposed’ or ‘imposed’ on this blog?

    The consensus so far seems to be that it is ‘a bridge too far’.

    • Well, I “impose” it upon myself, and I “propose” it to all others who write on this blog, especially to those who are Catholics. At least, you know how I feel about this now. I guess the question I ask commentators on this blog who continue to use the nomenclature “Roman Catholic” to consider is “Why do you insist on using a form of name for us which we do not use of ourselves?” “What point are you trying to make?”

  23. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Well, my point all along has been there isn’t much Roman Catholic about whatever it is you call “Catholicism” and if that’s so, why should you use the generally used term common among RCs (who knew as well as you it isn’t really accurate).

  24. Peregrinus

    In a comment of mine posted yesterday, which for some reason is in cyberlimbo “awaiting moderation”, I pointed out that the official, canonical, proper, strictly correct name of the Archdiocese of Melbourne is, in fact, the “Archdiocese of Melbourne”. It is consistently so called on and, I don’t doubt, in all official documents of the church itself. It’s what’s on the birth certificate, so to speak. I also have no doubt that the same is true of every other diocese and archdiocese throughout the world.

    “Catholic”, therefore, is not part of the name. It’s a descriptor which the Melbourne archdiocese itself adds for the purposes of public discourse, no doubt to acknowledge the existence of Anglican, Coptic Orthodox, etc, dioceses with similar names, and to avoid confusion with them.

    There’s nothing magic about “Catholic” as a descriptor, though. As has been pointed out above, many other dioceses choose to add “Roman Catholic”. This is particularly common in the US. Since the dominant protestant traditions in the US have neither dioceses nor bishops, and frequently do not particularly stress their own aspiration to catholicity, I doubt that “Roman Catholic” is a usage forced upon the American church by oppressive Protestant Episcopalians. I suspect is has more to do with the sensibilities of Eastern Christians and Eastern Catholics. In other parts of the world, “Latin” or “Latin Catholic” is used. Still other dioceses do not bother with a descriptor at all.

    I think whether a descriptor is added, and what it is, depends on who it is the local church needs to avoid confusion with. Ireland offers some interesting examples. The Diocese of Galway, for instance, does not qualify itself in any way on its website, no doubt because there is no Anglican diocese of that name. By contrast, on the website of the Diocese of Down and Connor, it’s sometimes just the “Diocese of Down and Connor”, and sometimes the “Catholic Diocese of Down and Connor”. There is no Anglican Diocese of Down and Connor, but there is an Anglican Diocese of Down and Dromore, and an Anglican Diocese of Connor. There are other dioceses which do not adopt any descriptor, e.g, the Diocese of Meath, even though they risk confusion with the (Anglican) Diocese of Meath and Kildare. Presumably they feel that the diocese intended will be clear from the context or, as the dominant church, they don’t feel the need to distinguish themselves that a minority church might feel.

    There is only one Diocesan name in Ireland which is identical in both the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland – the Diocese of Clogher. The Catholic diocesan website talks simply of the “Diocese of Clogher”, without any descriptor, while the Anglican website mentions “the Diocese of Clogher in the Church of Ireland” first off, and thereafter speaks of the “Diocese of Clogher”.

    Where a descriptor is needed, I think it is both practical and courteous to use whatever descriptor the diocese itself uses. That means that “Catholic Diocese of Melbourne” should be preferred for Melbourne. But, by the same token, I think this also means that where a Diocese uses “Roman Catholic”, people should respect that too.

    But, given that usage is inconsistent, and to some extent arbitrary, I don’t think we should be too picky. Somebody who refers to a diocese which uses “Catholic” as “Roman Catholic”, or vice versa, should perhaps be cut a little slack. As long as we’re in no doubt which diocese is intended, it’s no big deal. They are certainly not repudiating the proper name of the diocese – neither “Catholic” nor “Roman Catholic” are part of the name – and there is no reason to assume that they intend a discourtesy or that they are pointedly labouring a contentious theological issue.

    It’s not a good look to get too hung up about these things.

  25. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    That’s always been confusing to me when poking around churchy stuff in the old country via the Internet (my birth old country, Mother England).

    Seems like the goof ball misbegotten “Church of England” seems to preserve its fiction that it is the Catholic Church of England rather than a creation of the English government by using no “descriptors” at all so you have to poke around a bit to confirm it’s the bleeding Anglicans.

    Who cares? My church would be the ELCE anyway back in Mother England. Looks like there’s some in Suffolk!

    • Peregrinus

      The English government did not “create” the Church of England. They arguably took control of it (or took a greater degree of control over it than they were already exercising), they prevented the Pope Rome from exercising the jurisdiction over it that he had previously exercised, and they caused it to cease to be in communion with the Pope. But I don’t know of any ecclesiology in which these acts amount to “creating” a church. Provoking a schism, yes.

      As for the name “Church of England”, it’s the vernacular of Ecclesia Anglicana, a term in use prior to the reformation to refer to the (catholic) church in England. The Anglicans did not think that this was the name of a “new” Church and neither, interestingly, did the Catholics. One consequence of the reformation in England, of course, was to give the national character of the church a greater prominence. The name certainly reflects a claim or aspiration to be a national church – an aspiration which I think the Church of England still takes seriously. And of course it’s an aspiration – and a nomenclature – which is not foreign to the Lutheran tradition, as the existence of Svenska Kyrkan, Den Norske Kirke and Den Danske Folkekirkewill attest.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        God bless me ten times. From roos to the damn CofE. Hell, the king wanted a divorce from a marriage for which he already had a “dispensation” to even be in and couldn’t get it, so he made his own church where he could. Nothing more complicated than that. All the rest is just theologising to make it look better. All these other churches at least came from somebody standing for something, this one comes from a king who wants a divorce. Judas, his own book, ghosted by bloody Wolsey (an Ipswich boy, so he wasn’t all bad) and More, though it didn’t save them, explains what a bogus deal it was. Fidei defensor indeed. Hear tell the heir apparent wants to translate it Defender of Faith, not the Faith, which while technically possible, Latin having no definite articles, just continues the joke.

        • Peregrinus

          God bless me ten times. From roos to the damn CofE. Hell, the king wanted a divorce from a marriage for which he already had a “dispensation” to even be in and couldn’t get it, so he made his own church where he could. Nothing more complicated than that.

          He didn’t make his own church. He asserted control over a church which already existed. Nothing complicated about that.

          Judas, his own book, ghosted by bloody Wolsey (an Ipswich boy, so he wasn’t all bad) and More, though it didn’t save them, explains what a bogus deal it was.

          “It was a bogus deal” does not equal “he created his own church”, though, does it? Can you point to either Wolsey or More complaining that the King was creating a new church?

          • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

            When he took control, it ceased to be the church that was there, or any church at all for Judas in the chamber’s sake. Then they defected, defecated, the form and there hasn’t been a real Archbishop of Canterbury since Reginald Cardinal Bloody Pole for Judas in a red hat’s sake!

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        As to the state Lutheran churches, they were as bad as the ones they replaced, and their modern versions remain the same way. Even worse, for the abomination of “Lutheranism” that they are.

        • Peregrinus

          I’m open to correction (as always) but weren’t all Lutheran churches state churches for quite some time after Luther?

          In fact, I’m going to go out very rashly on a limb here, and suggest that there were no non-state Lutheran churches until the Old Lutheran Schism in the nineteenth century.

          If I’m right, is the corollary that Lutheranism was nothing but an abomination of itself for the first four hundred years or so of its history?

          For a bonus point: what is the oldest existing Lutheran church which was not a state church at its foundation?

          • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

            Well rent my pew Google freikirche. The Reformation ain’t over nor did WE found a new “church”.

            • Peregrinus

              So let me get this straight; churches reformed by state authority along Lutheran principles and thereafter controlled by the state are not “new churches”, but a church reformed along Anglican lines by state authority and thereafter controlled by the state is a “new church”, while simultaneously ceasing to be “any church at all”?

              Right, got that. So glad to have cleared that up. Carry on, Terry.

            • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

              Before this gets to be an inch wide in this damned WordPress thing:

              Would that be like churches “reformed” by Roman imperial authority along Roman imperial lines and thereafter controlled by the Roman Empire are the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of the creed and not a new church?

              You guys sure have an Edifice Complex.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Stercoris defensor is more like it. Let the Bug-man (the Hannibal Lector of the Liturgy) work on that one!

        Great Judas grilling brats that’s good: Hannibal/Annibale, lector/liturgy alliteration, there are lectors in the liturgy, and the movie character was more merciful to his victims than the Bug-man to his, the Roman rite.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Judas at the movies, they should make a movie of hie story. Call it Silence of the Lamb.

  26. Louise

    Well, all I can say is that if this bothers David and if we respect him as our host and if it does not go against our conscience, surely we can simply refer to the Catholic Church as David wishes. Is it a big sacrifice?

  27. Tony Bartel

    “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” LG 22

    So I repeat my question: Why is the adjective “Roman” offensive? I would have thought it would be something you would wear with pride.

    • An Liaig


      The descriptor “Roman” is offensive because it implies that the church is somehow alien to our culture, a foreign import (unless you’re Roman). Why should loyalty to the exersize of the petrine office have a geographic name attached to it? This is also offensive to Catholic ecclesiology, since it implies an acceptance of “branch theory”- something that both the Catholic and Orthodox churches reject. The Church of Rome is just that – the church in Rome. I am a member of the church in Melbourne and, even though I gratefully accept the oversight Peter – of the Bishop of Rome, Roman customs and spirituality are as foreign to me as my Australian ways would be foreign to them. The term “Roman” is an attempt to put the Church in a box, to limit its social impact. In both Britian and Australia it has been used to imply that Catholics could not be trusted, that they were disloyal and should not be allowed public office. The wanderer is far too sanguine about its origin and continued use. It is a piece of sectarian bigotry that should be left in the dustbin of history. That it is forced on us by secular law is deeply offensive and a relic of established, state religion.

      • Tony Bartel

        I understand what you are saying, but I grew up in a protestant Church in which the word “Catholic” was a pejorative term. We couldn’t even say it in the Creed and replaced it with “Christian”. (I believe that has since been rectified).

        Throughout my life I have been a defender of Roman Catholicism against teh type of bigotry that you mention. For example, when I was an Anglican priest I refused to allow Gideons to speak in my parish as they don’t allow Roman Catholics to be members of their organisation. One Gideon even told me that “those Catholics follow the Pope and not Christ”.

        I would like a dollar for every time I have had to debunk the “Pope can teach whatever he likes” myth and have carefully explained what the Roman Catholic Church actually means by infallibility.

        There are still protestants out there who will always say that Roman Catholics take their marching orders from the pope and that they cannot be trusted. But the use or non use of the adjective “Roman” has little to do with such attitudes. Some people can even make “Catholic” sound like a swear word.

  28. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    “I am a member of the church in Melbourne and, even though I gratefully accept the oversight Peter – of the Bishop of Rome, Roman customs and spirituality are as foreign to me as my Australian ways would be foreign to them. ”

    Wow. I belonged to a church called among men the Catholic Church in which that kind of thinking was totally foreign, Protestant in fact just toss in the “Peter” oversight thing.

    We believed that, quite the contrary, the universality or catholicity of the church was aptly demonstrated in that any Catholic from anywhere in the world could go anywhere else in the world and find, apart from differences in non-essentials like nice/bad/no music or nice/bad/no building exactly the same thing as at home, not a metaphor for argued-over translations of something rarely heard, exactly the same thing.

    And that was a good thing, a sign of the victory of Christ, that the language in which the death sentence was passed on him is now the language in which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated the world over regardless of local variations of the age and place otherwise, a taste of the age and place to come.

    But that’s what I like best about coming to this blog, a constant reminder that whatever this church is called the Catholic Church, it ain’t nuttin like the Catholic Church.

    • mdhoerr

      “And that was a good thing, a sign of the victory of Christ, that the language in which the death sentence was passed on him is now the language in which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated the world over regardless of local variations of the age and place otherwise, a taste of the age and place to come.”

      I never thought of that aspect of it. We certainly lost a lot when we lost general access to the Latin Mass.

      I’m not saying that’s a minor thing. I think an error of a great many non-Catholic Christians is an over-spiritualizing of worship — ie, ignoring the very real impact of the material on us as human beings.

  29. Christine

    I will have to disagree with Ain Liaig.

    The Pope is the Bishop of Rome isofar as that particular diocese is concerned but as universal pastor he is the Roman Pontiff.

    Catholic or Roman Catholic, I’ll take either one.


  30. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    And Judas in a toga, as opposed to buying some land and building a church and opening up, or in the case of one parish I attend, renting a part of an old warehouse, I wonder if any of us can imagine having to go before the Omaha City Council to see if we can get evangelical (in the original sense) services held in the only church there is going to be, the one that is part of the government.

    But so great was the stranglehold of the old imperial religion the “Catholic Church” that that is what had to be in the monstrosity called Christendom.

    Like they used to say, Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God, but all he got was the Church.

  31. Rob F.

    Hmm. I don’t like your distinction much. There are plenty of people who call themselves catholic, (and arguably, rightly so) who are not in communion with the Church of Rome. I am a member of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which is in communion with Rome. (Were it not, I doubt that it would long remain catholic, nor would I long remain a member.) There are actually two Churches of Pittsburgh, the diocese and the archeparchy. Both are in communion with Rome, and members of either are Roman Catholics.

    The chair of Peter is the touchstone of membership in the body of Christ, and since its location is in Rome, the adjective “Roman” is much more to the point than the vague adjective “catholic.” You can call me a member of the Church of Rome, a Romanist, a Papist or Papalist, you can even call me a Roman Catholic, but don’t call me a catholic. Patria mea Roma est.

    Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto…

    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      Yeah cool. That’s the way the prayer for the current pope starts on the SSPX site.

  32. Christine

    You can call me a member of the Church of Rome, a Romanist, a Papist or Papalist, you can even call me a Roman Catholic, but don’t call me a catholic. Patria mea Roma est.

    I have to admit I like that, it’s my patrimony too!

    Yes, to be catholic isn’t the same as being Catholic. As I found out.


    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      Must be a patrimony of affectation, wherein it is exempt from paying the liabilities of the grantor.

  33. matthias

    “Like they used to say, Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God, but all he got was the Church.”
    PE a very good point. At some point the Institution took over from the Instigator,and it is this claim that a lot of people in the Emergent/Emerging church scene are also saying.

  34. Louise

    “Like they used to say, Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God, but all he got was the Church.”

    Tell that to St Paul.

  35. Christine

    If the Church is the Body of Christ and Christ is the Head, one can’t sever the Body from the Head.

    And that Church is called the pillar and foundation of the truth.


    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      That’s right, one can’t, literally. So it hasn’t happened.

      Appropriating the pontifex maximus thing from the pre-Christian state religion of the Roman Empire sure gave it everything they had though.

      And they’re still trying, by sounding all relevant by borrowing relatively recent philosophy to rationalise the whole thing.

      • mdhoerr

        So Terry, what *is* the church/Church which is the Body of Christ?

        So far, we know what you think it is NOT.

        Is it all those who say “without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me”?

        • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

          Who cares what I think? Why not find out what the church thinks the church is? There’s a book the church says contains what you can absolutely rely on out of the many things written. It’s called the Bible.

          • mdhoerr

            “Who cares what I think? Why not find out what the church thinks the church is? There’s a book the church says contains what you can absolutely rely on out of the many things written. It’s called the Bible.”

            And so here we go round the mulberry bush, once again.

            To find out what the church is, read the Bible.

            Done that. My interpretation matches that of the universal church in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

            You have read the Bible too. Your interpretation apparently differs.

            So again, what does the Bible say the church is?

            • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

              It says what it says. I am not an “infallible teaching authority” claiming some sort of Urim and Thummim ability to “translate” the golden plates, unlike the pagan state religion surviving with a Christian veneer from Rome.

              Search as I may though, I find nothing in the Bible remotely supportive of that structure, except as that structure twists them to its own purposes and tells you that is what they mean.

              How do you know the Catholic Church is the “true” church?
              Because the “true” church, the Catholic Church, says it is.

  36. Christine

    The Catholic Church adopted many things from pre-Christian Rome, including ancient Roman prayers, so I’m not at all getting excited about the use of the title Pontifex Maximus.

    Wishing everyone here a happy St. Paddy’s day, will remember you all at Mass today along with the faithful Irish missionaries who evangelized my native land.


  37. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Problem is it wasn’t just the title but most of the understanding that went with it. The church did not adopt from pre-Christian Rome, the Roman Empire adopted the church, and viola RCC whose head becomes pontifex maximus same as the old one in the old religion.

    Actually the charade of “St Patrick’s Day” — whose own Confessio btw reveals his own local Christian community regarded him with great suspicion and put him on trial, but in typical “Catholic” fashion he does not address specifics, only complain that someone brought it up — is an appropriate time for a blog piece on the “Roman Catholic Church”, which just like the old imperial church wants formal submission to it, in one age calling it every knee must bend, in another that in which the fullness of the church subsists and in all ages completely apart from the church of Christ as an institution, after which one can do pretty much as one pleases.

    And speaking of native lands, if there is anything to be celebrated it is the invitation of the Romano-British, from whose number Patrick came, to us Angles to come over and settle and hold off the bleeding Picts and Scotti since the Romano-British were too busy fighting among themselves with everybody king of his backyard.

    Judas at Ellis Island, that’s where you get the word Welsh. It was our Germanic (Old English) term for foreigners, the old Romano-Britons, a lot of whom took off for Hibernia (Ireland) Patrick being one of them. His grandfather was a priest btw; the RCC has taken care that that ain’t happening any more.

    So Happy St Patrick’s Day indeed, fits with the whole religion of historical fiction morphed into dogma, as loosely based on the real deal as “Catholicism” is on Christianity.

  38. Christine

    Oh, typical Protestant killjoy attitude.

    I love how Catholicism celebrates everything that is good in this life and that will be in the next.

    The longer I am back in the Catholic Church the more I realize it’s where I belong.

    Time to head off to Mass!


  39. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Typical Catholic don’t bother me with facts it’s The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church.

    I would not classify taking historical fiction at best for reality among the good things in life but an avoidance of them for fantasy.

    And in the case of “St Patrick’s Day” getting drunk, oh wait, I forgot this is the RCC Alice in Wonderland nothing is what is seems — that’s not the REAL St Patrick’s Day.

  40. Christine

    I would not classify taking historical fiction at best for reality among the good things in life but an avoidance of them for fantasy.

    Not at all what I meant by the statement. Nothing whatsoever to do with St. Patrick’s Day.

    My fellow Bavarians would understand. That’s why life in Bavaria is colorful, human and filled with the sense that God is very, very present.

    Something I seemed to have missed in the past year of being Lutheran.

    I am grateful to be back in the Catholic Church, Catholic Church, Catholic Church.

    Mass at the Cathedral of St. John was reverent and inspiring, as it always is. I was grateful that the priest remembered the lives of the two police officers in greater Cleveland who had recently died in the line of duty.

    May perpetual light shine upon them.


  41. Terry Maher (Past Elder)


    First I briefly summarise the facts behind the St Patrick story, about 90% legend, 5% utter crap and 5% verifiable, then that is characterised as a killjoy attitudr, then contrasted with a supposed celebration of everything good in this life — to which I respond creating fantasies and celebrating them rather than real life is not life at all — and then WHAM, RC time, the famous that’s not what it REALLY means.

    Das Orakel von Delphi Gott hilf mir seitlich!

    Judas H Leary, the the Roman hallucinogens are taking effect more rapidly than feared.

  42. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Happy hangover day! In the last heavily Catholic area I lived in, there was a sacred Triduum observed, where everyone was Irish for a day and wore green clothes and got stinking drunk to celebrate St Pat’s, then nursed their hangovers on 18 March, so the next day everyone was Czech for a day and wore red clothes and got faced all over again.

    Holy St Wenceslaus, there was even a drink called a “red one” available year round. It was red beer, accomplished not like green beer with dye, but by pouring just enough mater juice in a beer to make it red.

    (“Mater” is a slang expression in the Southern US for tomatoe, which I adopted during my times in east Tennessee.)

    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      Perhaps even more obscure than the reference to maters may be “the next day” after 18 March and St Wenceslaus. 19 March is the feast of St Joseph, particularly important in some parts of eastern European culture, and St Wenceslaus in the patron saint of the Czech Republic. The name Wenceslaus btw is a variant of the name Vaclav.

  43. Peter

    Actually I just think David wasn’t ambitious enough. After all, the name “Catholic” implies there is another way to be Church.

    There is “The Church” and then there’s all the others that manage to copy bits of it here and there, some more than others.

    Relax guys… I’m teasing.

  44. Christine

    Perhaps even more obscure than the reference to maters may be “the next day” after 18 March and St Wenceslaus. 19 March is the feast of St Joseph, particularly important in some parts of eastern European culture, and St Wenceslaus in the patron saint of the Czech Republic. The name Wenceslaus btw is a variant of the name Vaclav.

    Oh. And having lived in what was called the “Slavic Village” part of Cleveland where my husband was born, heavily populated by Poles, Czechs (who ran the venerable Ceska Sin Karlin Hall), Slovenians et al., I surely would never have known that, nor, would I expect, the others who comment here and have been lifelong Catholics. St. Wenceslaus, who’da thunk it. What would we do without PE to educate us.

    Education is a fine thing, but when it’s used as a hammer, not so much (on the other hand, we could call you Terrence Maccabeus :).

    St. Joseph, by the way, also has very strong devotion among the German people. The non-Lutheran Germans, that is. “Josef Lieber, Josef Mein” is a very popular hymn.

    There is “The Church” and then there’s all the others that manage to copy bits of it here and there, some more than others.

    Peter, you couldn’t be more right. On the other hand, Lutherans are generally not quite the firebrands that Past Elder is.


  45. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Outside of ethnic pockets, St Joseph’s Day will pass as unnoticed by Catholics here as it will at Community Church of Christ. Not everything is a reference to you personally.

    Since David has seen fit to remove other comments of mine –Catholicism never stands up to factual examination — here without further comment:

    – Marie-Dominique Chenu, his Le Saulchoir put on the Index of Forbidden Books by Pius XII, peritus at Vatican II, big gun behind Gaudium et Spes, a founder of Concilium.
    -Hans Urs von Balthasar, banned from teaching by the Catholic Congregation for Seminaries and Universities, a founder of Communio, made cardinal by JPII.
    -Henri de Lubac, forbidden by his order (SJ) to teach or publish, consultant of Preparatory Theological Commission for VII by appointment of John XXIII, peritus at the Council, made a cardinal by JPII.
    -Yves Congar, banned from teaching or publishing by Pius XII, made a cardinal by JPII.

    The list goes on, but one hopes you get the idea. You can save yourself the utter mindlessness of reading all the documents of Vatican II by reading Humani generis, where the main ideas of the Documents are summarised and labelled as dangerous to and dissent from the Catholic faith.

    The postconciliar RCC has managed to copy fewer of the bits and pieces of “the Church” than many if not most, and most horribly so in that through the hermeneutic of continuity of real estate and bank accounts it says that it is the same thing.

    • mdhoerr

      Okay, I read Humani generis.
      I’ve read the Syllabus of Errors.
      I’ve read Gaudium et Spes.

      The first two are pretty clear.

      The third is pretty vague in many parts, mainly through not defining terms.

      If you define the terms in Gaudium et Spes according to the two prior documents, I think it would be compatible with what those two documents said.

      However, that interpretation of Gaudium et Spes would NOT be compatible with what was preached in a lot of places, especially in the United States (again, I can’t speak for other parts of the world).

      The fact that theologians who taught heresy were made Cardinals seems a matter of scandal to me (assuming they were still teaching heresy when they were made Cardinals).

      I also think the fact Cardinal Law was never punished for his mishandling (at best) of abusive priests in Boston is also scandalous.

  46. Christine

    Can’t speak for your neck of the woods, but it will not go by unnoticed in this diocese. I pass by several Catholic Churches on my way to work (mainly in the suburbs) and the early morning Masses are attended by retirees and those on their way to work. No to mention by those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours and those who will attend the noon Mass at the Cathedral downtown.

    Here’s what I find interesting about the list of names PE has provided:

    Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895-1990)
    Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988)
    Henri de Lubac (1896-1991)
    Yves Congar (1904-1995)

    All born into and educated in the preconciliar church. I also remember reading that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin had little love for the Old Rite (not surprising since he verged on the edge of pantheism).

    One could, I suppose, throw in the names of Danielou, Suenens, Rahner and the rest.

    I’ll never forget when I was a kid seeing a newsreel of Pius XII being carried about Rome, sedalia, triple tiara and all. As a Lutheran I was both fascinated and repelled. Nor did it escape my notice that there was a heavy exodus of both clergy and laity in the immediate aftermath of the Council as the radical reforms they had hoped for did not come about. The popes have continued to defend marriage and the family, upheld the centrality of the Mass, resist the culture of death in abortion and euthanasia and rejected the ordination of women.

    I’ve also met young Catholics who give me a great deal of hope for the Catholic Church.


  47. Christine

    As this quote from a traditional site tells:

    The liturgy is miraculous, but it doesn’t work like magic: Rev. Teilhard de Chardin had said the Tridentine Mass for decades even as he invented Catholic Scientology; conversely, his sometime housemate at New York’s St. Ignatius Loyola, the holy Rev. John Hardon, obediently switched missals with every tinkering that came to him from the bishops.’

    For those who knew Father Hardon, no one ever questioned his orthodox Catholic beliefs and teachings.


  48. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    John Hardon? Give me a break. His “The Catholic Catechism” is a monument to post conciliar crap, and was the model for the current compendium of heterodoxy, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for which he was a consultant too.

    Anyone characterising Teilhard’s thought as Catholic Scientology hasn’t the least understanding of Teilhard, and not much of Scientology either.

    Of course the names I mentioned were born and educated in the preconciliar church; everyone at the council was. The point was, the names mentioned were prominently among those whose thought was enshrined at the council, which before were considered dissenters.

    To go from having one’s work placed on the Index to being the force behind a major conciliar document is quite a leap, except of course in The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church.

    Actually, the “exodus” had very little to do with the more radical elements of the dissenters, who have largely stayed and continue to press for further “reform”. Nor are many of them like me, who left because it was no longer the Catholic Church. Most simply found an eternal maze of various versions of “what the church REALLY teaches” not worth the bother and irrelevant to much of anything at all.

    To believe this revisionist postconciliar Catholic Church emerging in recent years, I would have to deny everything I saw or heard through the whole process, where everyone mentioned above was not a name in a book, but someone I personally heard directly, or indirectly through their students and associates.

  49. Christine

    Ihave the utmost respect for Father Hardon.

    Actually, the “exodus” had very little to do with the more radical elements of the dissenters, who have largely stayed and continue to press for further “reform”.

    • Christine

      I have the utmost respect for Father Hardon.

      Actually, the “exodus” had very little to do with the more radical elements of the dissenters, who have largely stayed and continue to press for further “reform”.

      Heh, judging by the hissy fit some of them (like Richard McBrien and Nathan Mitchell) are having over the upswing in Eucharistic adoration, not to mention the new Missal translation, they’re not doing such a great job, and they ain’t gettin’ any younger!

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Doesn’t matter, conservative dissent and liberal dissent are both dissent, and if the conservatives win, it is no victory for Catholicism from which either and both sides dissent.

  50. Tony

    I confess to enjoying much of the banter here but it reminds me of some workplaces I’ve been part of over the years.

    The greatest sources of ongoing tension in those workplaces were not about work processes and practices but doing the dishes or keeping the kitchen tidy or who pays for the coffee or, if we were lucky, the biscuits.

    This must be some sort of record. Well over 100 comments on ‘What’s in a name?’. Anyone for coffee?

    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      As usual it just reinforces to me how foreign whatever the church under discussion is here to the Catholic Church.

      In that church, since it has no name, the names used among men are all inadequate in one way or another so it really doesn’t matter.

      The church under discussion here manifestly is not that church, but is hell-bent (literally?) to say it is, so it has to get all into this sort of thing to preserve its flimsy claim at all.

      Now as to coffee, hell yes! I like three kinds, the way it was served when I was in Mother England, about half coffee and half milk poured to-gether, “Cuban” or Latin American coffee which is stronger than hell, something like what you call expresso, and (if Pastor McCain is reading he’ll hate this) good old Folgers in a Mr Coffee. My dad, whose dad was a switchman, spoke of “railroad coffee” strong enough to stand without a pot. How about you Tony?

  51. Christine

    Doesn’t matter, conservative dissent and liberal dissent are both dissent, and if the conservatives win, it is no victory for Catholicism from which either and both sides dissent.

    Er, newsflash, that apply to just about every religious body on the planet today. Everyone is struggling with it.

    As usual it just reinforces to me how foreign whatever the church under discussion is here to the Catholic Church. But you have clearly stated that you no longer accept Catholicism in either its pre or postconciliar form, so logically it shouldn’t make a bit of difference what any Catholic here believes.

    Even if everyone here came to the conclusion that yes, the only valid form of Catholicism that now exists is found in the SSPX and similar organizations, you are positing that they would be faithful to “authentic” Catholicism but don’t join them either because their Catholicism is false too.

    Makes my head hurt. I think I’ll stick with the magisterium.



  52. Christine

    This must be some sort of record. Well over 100 comments on ‘What’s in a name?’. Anyone for coffee?

    Tony, I suspect certain parties like to come here cause we’re all such a fun bunch (ducking to avoid the cyberbricks).


  53. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    It isn’t fun at all. It’s amazing how quickly the Roman hallucinogens take effect, rendering a person incapable of any thought that doesn’t end up being about The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church.

    Every religious body on the planet is not at issue; the Catholic Church is the one under discussion here, and with regard to that particular religious body, what it presently promotes as its faith is what was previously among the milder forms of dissent from it, with a new liturgy to match, and its claims that nothing REALLY changed are just plain wrong. And to the extent that it promotes error, that should be countered.

    This is all independent of what I personally believe. Since you bring it up, here is the story on that. It is not rocket science at all to understand, and only makes one’s head hurt if one is trying desperately to maintain the fiction that nothing changed. I believed what the Catholic Church taught me prior to the council. Then the Catholic Church began teaching something else, not, as with any non-Catholic Christian teaching, without its points of congruence with what the Catholic Church taught me before, but not the same thing in toto. So I did not believe it — as in even if I or an angel should deliver to you another Gospel let him be anathema. Which creates another problem: it’s bad enough that what one believes went away to something else, but how could that happen if what one believes was true since that included a promise from Christ that it would not go away? There are only two possible answers: it did not in fact go away, of which I tried for years to convince myself, and which if anything produces a hurting head the constant “that’s not what the church REALLY teaches” is better than a hammer, or, it went away because it was false too. I tried like hell to make Option One work, but it just doesn’t, and I would have to deny everything I saw and heard to say it does for the sake of being able to hum along The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Chuch, therefore it’s Option Two, what I was taught was false to begin with, which for me was even harder to bear than the galling apostacy of the postconciliar church but as part of what I was taught there was no place else to go, so the conclusion is Christianity itself is false since the true Christianity failed.

    It was more than twenty years before I saw, thanks to Concordia and the 1520 treatises of Martin Luther, that the Catholic Church had gone into captivity to Babylon, so zu sagen, long before Vatican II, which turns out to be just the final slipping of the stern under the waves but not the shipwreck itself, but the catholic church was alive and doing quite well.

  54. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    A good cup of coffee would be great. What’s your preferences, Tony?

  55. Christine

    Yes, I believe you have recounted your history with the Catholic Church here before.

    Which is why I can’t take your arguments at face value. You were taught what you were taught and I don’t deny the validity of that. But, as you say, after becoming Lutheran you came to the conclusion that Catholicism in all its forms was false so for you to be telling anyone here that the Catholic Church in her present form is false as well seems oxymoronic.

    My journey is just the opposite. While not denying for a minute that reforms were necessary one man, Luther, threw out the baby with the bathwater and I find the catholicism of the Lutheran churches quite truncated.

    So let’s just all continue along in the paths we have chosen.


  56. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Oxymoron. A Greek based word not actually in Greek but coming from placing the words for sharp and dull to-gether.

    So here again is something else I have said before, and say again because in typical Catholic fashion it is made into something it is not: what I believe is beside the point here.

    I do not believe Marxism, but I know what Marx wrote and taught, and if someone calls something Marxist which plainly isn’t I can point that out though I do not believe what Marx taught.

    Likewise Catholicism. The continuing efforts of the postconciliar RCC to pass off as Catholicism what is in fact dissent from it are what they are with no reference to me at all. Efforts to make it about me are classic ad hominem arguments, which does not at all carry the popular connotations of slander, but is rather to disqualify a position without examination or discussion of the position because of a factor about the one presenting the position apart from the position itself which supposedly makes any such examination or discussion worthless.

  57. Christine

    what I believe is beside the point here.

    No, I don’t think it is.

    If you believed that preconciliar Catholicism were true you’d still be there. So here you are, telling us that the preconciliar Catholicism that you no longer believe in is the true Catholicism.

    One cannot come to these discussions in a vaccum.


  58. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    False. (Now how about that; “false” hits my mind first in German to comment to non-Germans, and in English to comment to a German.)

    Once again, the a priori that the Catholic Church is always right overrides anything and everything else.

    What did I say? (An impossible question in a Catholic context where every This becomes actually That.) Preconciliar Catholicism does not exist to “be there”. Groups that follow preconciliar Catholicism against Rome may uphold preconciliar Catholicism, but preconciliar Catholicism does not admit of groups that follow the Catholic faith against a Rome that does not.

    That is why, for example, while the SSPX does indeed uphold the Catholic faith precisely and exactly as I was taught and believed it from the RCC, it is untenable that this faith be taught not from Rome but from a group it proscribes. That is why much as I admire them, I do not and have never had any affiliation with them. What they uphold is the Catholic faith quite clearly, but if it were true it would be the Catholic Church upholding it instead of their new faith. What it is, is not the same question of whether it is true or not, or whether I believe it is true or not.

  59. mdhoerr

    “That is why, for example, while the SSPX does indeed uphold the Catholic faith precisely and exactly as I was taught and believed it from the RCC, it is untenable that this faith be taught not from Rome but from a group it proscribes.”

    That’s my problem with the SSPX, too.

    But then PE, why didn’t you join the Eastern Orthodox Church?

    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      A very logical question, in fact, I thought about doing just that for some time because, from where I stood at the time, it had valid sacraments, all seven of them, and a liturgy that wasn’t some crazy quilt of this and that made by “scholars” at a council. So why didn’t I do it?

      Because, contrary to the “ecumenical” nonsense you may hear, they do not hold the same faith as the Roman Catholic Church, most notably in the lack of the petrine gift to the church. Close, but no cigar. Secondarily, rather than impose one version on all people, the Eastern Church developed ethnic/national churches but not in the ethnicity or nation to which I belong or came from, ie I am not Greek, Russian etd.

      In fact there were many who took refuge from the horrors of Vatican II in Orthodoxy, and the most concise summary of Vatican II I ever heard came from a Greek Orthodox friend — “very sad”. Lately something some call “Western Orthodoxy”, instanced by what is known here as the Antiochan Church, of which we have two parishes in Omaha, has gained many converts from the RCC and Episcopal and Lutheran churches largely. However, while some of the historically Orthodox have reservations about just how Orthodox this body is, even if it is, and even if their “Gregorian” rite is a Mass as the novus ordo can never be, it is still Orthodox, not Catholic, and one can not believe Catholicism and be Orthodox. Again, close, but no cigar.

  60. Christine

    I keep reminding myself that my Lutheran mother and Catholic father shared the bonds of Holy Baptism with each other and with me, and we are inseparably bound, thanks be to God.

    I am glad to be Catholic, but will always respect both traditions.


    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      I respect the Catholic tradition too — that is why I will have nothing to do with the postconciliar RCC as it does not but merely parodies it.

  61. Christine

    Sorry, PE, as long as you keep coming here to rant it’s hard to be convinced that you’ve made a total break with it all.

    It would make sense to read your statements on a Lutheran blog — but not here. You don’t get to define for us what is and isn’t Catholic.


  62. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Take another tab of the Roman acid, it seems to be taking hold nicely — since there can be no objection to The Catholic Church, the great god, any objections must be rooted in the objector since they cannot possibly have any merit.

    I’m actually amazed that David hasn’t hauled out one of his Monty Python exercises in psycho-analysis and announced his diagnosis that I REALLY want to be Catholic.

    The only reason to speak of these things on a Lutheran blog is to point out the damage we are doing to ourselves by modifying our worship according to Vatican II For Lutherans.

    Most certainly I don’t get to define for you or anyone including myself what is and isn’t Catholic. The Catholic Church does, and I believed at one time what it so defined. Then it defined something else as Catholic, which I rejected because it rejected what the Catholic Church taught me and embraced what the Catholic Church taught me was not Catholic.

    In so doing it lost any credibility whatever. The irony is, this blog, by what Catholics here say is Catholic and what the Catholic Church REALLY teaches, simply adds to the 40 some years on confirmation that whatever it is you call Catholic or the Catholic Church calls Catholic these days, by what the Catholic Church called Catholic it isn’t.

    And this is my message here. You’ve been told blue is red by people who are colour-blind and know neither.

    • You asked for it, PE:

      “Why do you keep on going on about the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, Stan? Whoops, sorry, Terry?”

      “Because I want to be one.”

    • “Then it defined something else as Catholic”

      The Second Vatican Council defined nothing. The only ‘Catholic reason not to be Catholic’, as you might put it, would be a contradiction between two irreformable Magisterial teachings. But no such contradiction has occured (nor will it occur).

      And as for your ‘Lutheran reasons not to be Catholic’, I ask what somebody at this blog’s old address once asked: Prove sola scriptura from Scripture.

  63. Christine

    The only reason to speak of these things on a Lutheran blog is to point out the damage we are doing to ourselves by modifying our worship according to Vatican II For Lutherans.

    Sorry, pal, it’s a done deal. They’re not taking revising the Lutheran Service Book to fit your specifications, not to mention that some Missouri Synod congregations still use — and like — the Lutheran Book of Worship. I’m afraid your prophetic mission isn’t going to be very fruitful on that score.


  64. Lucian

    I’ld have no problem with that, and nothing would please my lazy hand more than this, … but there’s a problem: there’re also Greek-Catholics. 😐 (And, as I heard of late, even Oriental-Catholics).