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Feed: Pastoral Meanderings Posted on: Sunday, January 13, 2013 5:00 AM Author:firstname.lastname@example.org (Pastor Peters) Subject: "Roman" Catholic?
Often I get complaints about my practice of referring to the ROMAN Catholic Church, as opposed to simply the Catholic Church. In part, my practice is informed by my desire to affirm that the confession of the Lutheran Church is that we have not departed from the catholic tradition and that our Confessions embody the evangelical and catholic faith and are not sectarian. I know this is a point in dispute with Rome but I am, after all, Lutheran.
The other reason, perhaps the larger one, is that the term Roman reminds us that it is precisely communion with the Bishop of Rome that does shape and inform this church's unity. The Pope is not incidentally the Bishop of Rome but is the Bishop of Rome and whoever the Bishop of Rome is, that Bishop is also the Pope.
One blogger has written complaining of the Roman part of the name:
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.
But I respond that is exactly the point -- it is their communion with the Bishop of Rome that unites the different and distinct rites, often more diverse than one might presume. One becomes Roman Catholic not merely by affirming the content of the faith but by recognizing the Holy See and submitting to the authority of the Bishop of Rome as Pope and Vicar of Christ on earth.
Perhaps if the papacy were unhooked from the office of Bishop of Rome, it might be harder for me to justify my point but we are in no danger of seeing that ever happen. Since it is the Latin Rite and not strictly speaking the Roman Rite, Roman refers less to the rite than to the see in which the various rites are united. So I do not think it either illogical or unfair to refer to the Roman Catholic Church.