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Author Topic: What exactly is the Orthodox understanding of the word 'catholic'?  (Read 1189 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: December 03, 2007, 12:35:07 AM »

We Orthodox say we are catholic, but not Roman Catholic, so, what exactly does 'catholic' mean?  I've heard it means universal, as well as fullness, complete.  How should I understand the exact meaning?  Thanks in advance,

 In Christ,
 
 Gabriel

P.S.  I wasn't sure where to post this.  Mods- move it if you want to.
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wynd
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2007, 12:50:05 AM »

I believe that catholic means "according to the whole." As far as I know, the Greek word for "universal" is "ecumenical."
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Pravoslavbob
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2007, 12:50:54 AM »

I believe we strongly emphasize the "full and complete" side of the ledger.  To this you might also add "conciliar", to round out the defintion somewhat.  St. Ignatius said something to the effect that wherever the clergy and the people are gathered around their bishop in unity is where the Catholic Church is present.
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2007, 01:06:56 AM »

The word catholic comes from the greek "Kata" and "Holos". It means complete(kata) and whole(holos). From 'kata' we get english words such as catastrophe & catalog. Holos, literally "all" wholistic, alcoholic etc.

Denotes the complete totality of the Faith. This is usualy what is meant when used in the Creed and many early Fathers especially pre-nicene. Early Fathers even used the phrase catholic churches (plural), because the totality of faith was preserved in each church.

A good study on the meaning of the word from classical greek to the early church can be found in the book "Eucharist, Bishop, Church" by John Zizioulas
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wynd
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2007, 02:26:40 AM »

To this you might also add "conciliar", to round out the defintion somewhat.
Interestingly, the Slavonic word "sobornuyu" in the Creed has the dual meaning of "catholic" and "conciliar."
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Pravoslavbob
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2007, 01:40:43 PM »

Interestingly, the Slavonic word "sobornuyu" in the Creed has the dual meaning of "catholic" and "conciliar."

I think you are right.  I think that this is very interesting too.
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2007, 02:16:43 PM »

"Kata" is a preposition meaning "according to" and "olos" means whole or all. So I agree with Wynd. It means "according to the whole" or "according to all". In Greek, when we use it outside a religious context,  we do so to define something as universal or widely considered.
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Marc1152
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2007, 02:22:21 PM »

Great Question ! This is a pet peeve of mine.

Catholic means that the entire Church is present whenever a part of it meets. The Church is universally (totally) present within it's parts. This is a characteristic of "THE" Church. It is "Holy" ( set apart), Catholic ( entirely present within it's members) and Apostolic ( with the genuine lineage of Christianity). When St. Mark Parish in Bethesda Maryland holds a service, the Orthodox Church is meeting.

Sometimes Roman Catholics define the term Universal as having to do with governance or the size and reach of their membership. "We are more Catholic than you are because we are more Universally present thoughout the World" they sometimes say.

The Orthodox Church is the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  
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trifecta
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2007, 07:23:33 AM »

I agree, Marc.  It's my pet peeve too.

I started a thread on a fundamentalist forum entitled "You are
more Roman Catholic than you think,"  which admittingly was
provocative. 

One poster who denied any influence of the RCC on his faith
said that the word catholic "simply means universal." Ahhhh!
I couldn't resist pointing out the irony in
that it was the Catholics which gave us that definition!

   
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born Catholic, became a Protestant, now and hereafter an Orthodox Christian
Tags: conciliarity St. Ignatius roman catholic semantics 
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