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Chapter 3: The Church
   The Catholic Church
      81. Why the Term "Catholic"?

{81.1} Q. The Scripture never speaks of "the Catholic Church." What does the word "Catholic" mean? How, when and why did it come to be used to describe the Church?

{81.2} A. The word "Catholic" is the English version of the Greek word catholikos, a combination of two Greek words meaning "throughout the whole." The word occurs often in the Greek classics with the sense of "universal."

{81.3} So far as present records show, the phrase "Catholic Church" was first used around the year A.D. 110. In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans (No. 8), St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, "Let no one do anything touching the Church, apart from the bishop.... Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." The usage of "Catholic" here seems to connote "one and only."

{81.4} Certainly, by the beginning of the third century, the word "Catholic" as applied to the Church denoted that community which held sound doctrine, in contrast to heresy, and which was united in organization, in contrast to schismatic groups. The word also connoted wholeness in contrast to the partial. In the writings of St. Cyprian (mid-third century) we see the beginning of using "Catholic" and "Roman" interchangeably.

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