We can never seem to escape this names thing.
In common parlance, Christians under the Pope of Rome are called Catholics. This doesn't negate the Catholicity of the Orthodox Churches, it is just how common people speak.
To be honest, I don't know how many people know about the Orthodox Churches, let alone the difference between Byzantines and Copts, Syrians, Armenians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Indians. Hence, it is not as easily distinguishable.
Certainly in the West, when one thinks "Orthodox", they think "Russian" or "Greek". And so there might be merit in the argument that Byzantine Chalcedonians should be called Orthodox.
But what about the Oriental Orthodox Churches? You won't find us calling ourselves "Malankara Oriental Church", or "Coptic Oriental Church". We have always used and will use big-O Orthodox, for that is what we are. Should we sell out because we are not known? I don't think I will find many Byzantine parishes called "Saint Alexander Nevsky Russian Eastern Church". It is right that they call themselves "Russian Orthodox", and it is right for us to call ourselves "Indian Orthodox" or whatever. Furthermore, the common person, who probably knows little about Orthodoxy as it is, will know even less about what Oriental is...chances are they'll think about rugs or want to order take-out.
So, I propose the following, and, unless there is mass administratorial uproar, these will be the accepted terms.Catholic
: this is the acceptable shorthand (per common usage of the English language) for Christians under the Pope of Rome. This will continue to be acceptable, but in order to prevent further problems with regard to names, posters are encouraged to take the extra effort to type out Roman Catholic
when speaking of Western Christians under Rome, or Eastern (or insert name of proper rite here) Catholic
when speaking of Eastern Christians in communion with Rome. Eastern Orthodox
: this is the accepted way of referring to Eastern Christians not under Rome, who accept seven Ecumenical Councils, commonly use the Byzantine rite, etc. For greater clarity, one is encouraged to mention the particular Church one is referring to, if it doesn't get too cumbersome (no need to make a list of fifteen Churches, but if you're only talking about one, just say "Greek Orthodox" or something). Oriental Orthodox
: this will be the accepted way of referring to Eastern Christians not under Rome, not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox, and who only accept three Ecumenical Councils. It is true that it is not as easy to categorise these Churches since they are in communion, but also are quite distinct one from the other. But since Oriental Orthodox is commonly used (in spite of the fact that Eastern and Oriental mean the same thing, although they are different words), that is what will be used here. However, one is always welcome to call the various Churches by their names (for example, Armenian Apostolic, Eritrean Orthodox, etc.). Assyrians
: no one really has any dispute with this, so this will refer to those Christians not in communion with any of the above, who belong to the Assyrian Church of the East.
Everyone knows what a vagante
is, and if they don't, they'll know when they meet a member of the Anglican Orthodox Roman Apostolic Hittite Catholic Church of the Ozarks in communion with the Holy See of Boise in Idaho under the omophor of Patriarch Mar Leroy James.
You get the picture.
I don't need to explain Protestants.
Having said all this, please try to be considerate of each other and their respective Churches and abide by the guidelines set above. Furthermore, Orthodox of either stripe who feel the need to add "Catholic" to the name are welcome to, so long as that is NOT the ONLY word they use to describe themselves, as such is confusing. And if people still insist that one group should be Orthodox and the other "Oriental", I will move to eliminate that confusion by preventing people from using the word "Orthodox" and just the words "Eastern" or "Oriental". I trust no one wants to go there, so we'll just abide by the rules above.
Hopefully now we can move away from this fixation with names. I pray I haven't offended anyone. God bless you all.