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Author Topic: Does the Vatican have exclusive rights to the word "Catholic"?  (Read 3398 times) Average Rating: 0
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Orthodoc
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« on: November 04, 2003, 01:12:08 AM »

2003.10.31 Slate:
<http://slate.msn.com/id/2090526/>
faith-based
"Property of Rome"?

Does the Vatican have exclusive rights to the word "Catholic"?

By Michael McGough
Posted Friday, October 31, 2003, at 3:59 AM PT
They say the pope's infallible, but does he also hold a trademark on the
word "Catholic"? Readers of a dispatch from the Associated Press last month
might well have wondered. The story reported that "a lawsuit filed by the
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta accuses a network of Spanish-speaking
churches of falsely claiming to be Catholic."

Fox News was laughed out of court when it sued Al Franken for including the
phrase "fair and balanced" in the subtitle of his satirical book Lies and
the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. But the Archdiocese of Atlanta fared better
in its attempt, as intellectual-property lawyers put it, to "protect the
mark." In October, a Fulton County judge entered a consent order that
permanently enjoins the "Mision Catolica: Capilla de la Fe" (Catholic
Mission: Chapel of Faith) from "representing themselves to be a part of or
associated with or sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta or Archbishop John Francis Donoghue."

The lawsuit didn't exactly chisel a TM under the word "Catholic"; rather,
it alleged that the Chapel of Faith was "intentionally or recklessly"
creating the impression that its clerics and services "are sanctioned by
the Roman Catholic Church." That is a weightier complaint than Fox's brief
against Al Franken; you don't need to be a federal judge to understand that
"fair and balanced" in Franken's title was a joke, not the appropriation of
a trademark for fraudulent purposes.

Mark Chopko, the general counsel of the United States Catholic Conference,
said as far as he knows the Atlanta lawsuit is one of a kind and that the
national church took no official position on it. The American Roman
Catholic Church is not declaring open season on other groups that use the
"C" word in their names.

That's just as well, because it could prove impossible under the First
Amendment to cabin the terms "Catholic" or even "Roman Catholic."

Lots of people who don't recognize the Bishop of Rome consider themselves
just as Catholic as John Paul II. Many Protestants on Sunday recite the
Apostles Creed, which contains the affirmation "I believe +á in the holy
catholic church."

Whether the "c" is capitalized or not, "Catholic"-the etymology is from the
Greek katholikos for "universal"-has been a contested term in Christian
theological polemics for centuries. After the churches of Rome and
Constantinople split in a schism usually dated to the 11th century, the
Church of the West became known as the Roman Catholic Church, and the
Church of the East as the Orthodox Church. (To complicate matters further,
there are other ancient churches that went their own way because of
doctrinal disputes even before Rome and Constantinople split.)

The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that it is not only orthodox (correct
in its teaching), but also Catholic. The Roman Catholic Church likewise
considers itself to be orthodox in doctrine. In emphasizing one term over
another in their "trademarks," these two branches of Christianity are not
relinquishing their claims to both attributes. (For a secular analogy,
consider the names of the two major political parties in America: Democrats
would tell you that they believe in a republican form of government;
Republicans like President Bush trumpet the virtues of small-d democracy,
at least in Iraq.)

Of course, "Catholic"-especially when the "C" is capitalized-has other
connotations besides "universal." As a result of the 19th-century Oxford
Movement in the Church of England, some Anglicans began to identify
themselves as "Catholics" in the sense of incorporating Roman Catholic
rituals and vestments (what some called the "rags of popery") in their
worship. To this day some so-called Anglo-Catholic churches are "more
Catholic than the pope" in the sense that they preserve older practices
(like priests celebrating Mass with their backs to the congregation) that
have been suppressed in post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism. Some High-Church
Anglicans even offer prayers during Mass for the pope (and for the
patriarch of Constantinople, for good measure).

Long before the Archdiocese of Atlanta cried foul about the Mision
Catolica, Roman Catholics were rejecting the notion that one could be a
Catholic and not be in communion with Rome. And aggrieved Anglicans
responded in kind. Consider this sniffy entry in Fowler's Modern Usage,
published by Oxford University Press: "Catholic. It is open to Roman
Catholics to use C. by itself in a sense that excludes all but themselves,
but it is not open to a Protestant to use it instead of Roman-Catholic
without implying that his own Church has no right to the name of C."

So there. But Roman Catholics were unimpressed by this point of order. When
I studied religion at the University of Kent, one of my classmates, a Roman
Catholic priest in training, mocked this hair-splitting. When you asked an
Englishman for directions to the local "Catholic church," he told me, you
would always be pointed to the Roman Catholic church.

To add to the confusion, some Eastern Rite Catholics-whose churches
recognize the authority of the pope in Rome but follow rituals similar to
those of Eastern Orthodoxy-don't like to be referred to as Roman Catholics.
Then there are the churches that don't acknowledge the pope in Rome but
incorporate the term "Catholic" in their title. Some, like the "Old
Catholic" churches that broke from Rome over papal infallibility, have what
the Vatican considers "valid" holy orders. That means that an Old Catholic
(or, in this country, Polish National Catholic) priest has the power to
consecrate the Eucharist.

Even the presence of "Roman" in a church's name doesn't guarantee a
connection to the Vatican. According to the Web site of the Old Roman
Catholic Church in North America, schisms in its flock produced the Old
Roman Catholic Church in North America-Diocese of Michigan and the Central
States; the North American Old Roman Catholic Church; and the Old Roman
Catholic Church-Diocese of Florida within the Historic See of Caer Glow (!).

Lest that litany seem fantastic or facetious, consider the "Catholic Mass"
celebrated every Sunday evening at the Episcopal church in my Dupont Circle
neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The Mass is sponsored by Dignity, a group
of gay and lesbian Catholics that takes issue with the Vatican's
condemnation of homosexual acts.

Peggy Hays, a spokeswoman for Dignity says, that "we never hide our status"
as an autonomous group or pretend to be approved by the American hierarchy
(though some priests who celebrate Mass for Dignity are members in good
standing of religious orders who are acting with the tacit approval of
their superiors). Hayes says she knows of no attempt by the hierarchy to
move against Dignity for (mis)use of the term "Catholic." Given the
multiplicity of meanings of "Catholic," that seems like a prudent policy
even after the Archdiocese of Atlanta's legal victory
.
Michael McGough is a Washington-based editor at large for the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette.
Article URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2090526/
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2003, 03:06:06 AM »

...bowl of petunias....  Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2003, 08:44:25 AM »

I said my piece on my blog today.
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2003, 09:03:04 AM »

I said my piece on my blog today.

Could you please post what you said on your blog here with a link?

Thanks,

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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2003, 09:07:03 AM »

Orthodoc,

You are entitled to your opinion but why are you using Slate as a resource? Just 2 weeks ago they had an article where they said Mother Theresa was a fake.  They are uber-secular.

The RC Church has a point: fundamentalist Protestants use the term Catholic to fool immigrants just as in Philly(?) there is a Presbyterian Church with a three-bar cross to fool Orthodox.  The actual use of the term Catholic is not the issue, but rather its intended use.

I did get one good point out of the article: Eastern Catholics don't like to be called Roman Catholics ;-)

anastasios
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2003, 09:14:33 AM »

Dear anastasios,

Quote
Could you please post what you said on your blog here with a link?

I didn't think I needed to as it is in today's entry and my sig is the blog link, but here is a try at making a link to it.

Quote
The RC Church has a point: fundamentalist Protestants use the term Catholic to fool immigrants just as in Philly(?) there is a Presbyterian Church with a three-bar cross to fool Orthodox.  The actual use of the term Catholic is not the issue, but rather its intended use.

I know there was a row in Chicago as ELCA (the mainstream Lutheran denomination) was accused of doing that to trick Hispanic immigrants. Don't know about Philly but read* that about 100 years ago in Canada the Presbyterians did that with the Russian cross to get disgruntled Ukrainian Catholic immigrants to go their church. I have heard that in Northeast Philadelphia, where lots of Russian immigrants live, a Lutheran church put up icons and offered panichidi, even though historically Lutherans don't believe in praying for the dead! (But they don't really object to images - as you know as a born Lutheran, they are less Protestant than a lot of people think.)

*In a book, not online from any notorious Ukrainian and/or Canadian manufacturers of history.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2003, 09:17:42 AM by Serge » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2003, 09:35:42 AM »

Serge,

The reason that I asked is because this is a discussion forum and we want to keep the discussion flowing.  It's not as easy for someone to quote your thoughts and respond if they are on another page.

Also, you don't post here as much as you used to and so someone might not know that your blog is linked in your sig.

A third consideration is that in 2 years someone might look for the entry and not find it on your blog, not knowing where it is in the archive.

These are obviously just practical reasons that I ask everyone referring to other pages to issue a link and quote relevant passages.  Thanks for honoring my request.

anastasios
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2003, 09:38:12 AM »

Serge and all with blogs,

The link you made didn't quite work.  I certainly do not want to make life hard for anyone. Let's just keep it simple and in the future anyone linking to his/her blog just put a link to the blog's head page and in parenthesis write the entry's date.

Thanks everyone!

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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2003, 09:41:51 AM »

Guess what - our church is the REAL catholic church! Remember the Nicean Creed: "I believe in...one holy, catholic and apostolic church...". For this reason, I always say "Roman Catholic" when referring to the Pope's church.
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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2003, 09:55:05 AM »

Roman Catholic Church - the word catholic in this context is understood today as a noun.

One holy, catholic and apostolic church... - in this context the word catholic is an adjective.

Don't confuse the two. Wink

John.
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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2003, 09:55:49 AM »

Quote
The link you made didn't quite work.  I certainly do not want to make life hard for anyone. Let's just keep it simple and in the future anyone linking to his/her blog just put a link to the blog's head page and in parenthesis write the entry's date.

OK, done: A conservative blog for peace (4th November 2003).

Quote
Guess what - our church is the REAL catholic church! Remember the Nicean Creed: "I believe in...one holy, catholic and apostolic church...". For this reason, I always say "Roman Catholic" when referring to the Pope's church.

That's just annoying.
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2003, 12:28:38 PM »

Very ecumenical statement, "our church is the real catholic church"  that's right up there with "my god can beat up your god".

Speaking as an RC I don't think we have exclusive rights to the word "catholic"  but we do have the right to make it clear and take action when people falsely represent themselves as being representatives of the RCC.

By the way it's not the "pope's church"  it's the Church of Jesus Christ.  The pope's church is St. John Lateran.

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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2003, 08:50:19 PM »

I hold to the the statement of the Second Ecumenical Council as to what is a "Catholic Church."  I posted before the decree of the orthodox Emperor Theodosius the Great.  He supported the 2nd Council and held rigorously to the Nicean Constantinoplean Creed.  He defined Catholic as follows:

 It is our pleasure that all the nations which are governed by our clemency and moderation should steadfastly adhere to the religion which was taught by St. Peter to the Romans, which faithful tradition has preserved, and which is now professed by the pontiff Damasus, and by Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the discipline of the apostles and doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe the sole deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, under an equal majesty and a pious Trinity.  We authorize the followers of this doctrine to assume the title of Catholic Christians; and as we judge that all others to be extravagant madmen, we brand them with the infamous name of Heretics, and declare that their conventicles shall no longer usurp the respectacle appellation of churches.  Besides the condemnation of Divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties, which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom, shall think to inflict upon them.                

Codex Theodosianus XVI.1.2




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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2003, 10:04:33 PM »

[I have heard that in Northeast Philadelphia, where lots of Russian immigrants live, a Lutheran church put up icons and offered panichidi, even though historically Lutherans don't believe in praying for the dead! (But they don't really object to images - as you know as a born Lutheran, they are less Protestant than a lot of people think.)]

Ya got that right.  The sign is written in Russian and is listed as 'Slavic Christian Church'.

Orthodoc
« Last Edit: November 04, 2003, 10:08:34 PM by Orthodoc » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2003, 10:16:08 PM »

Actually I can affirm this.  I work for the area agency on aging for Philadelphia which serves a great many homebound elderly in Philly.  I've gotten quite a few cases in Northeast Philly where the elderly person was raised Orthodox but are now some  form of Protestant because when they came over they ran into people who spoke their native language and assured them they were Orthodox even down to the use of icons.  The same holds true of the Hispanic elderly who come up from Latin America.  

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« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2003, 09:41:32 PM »

Sad when you need to resort to trickery to get people into your Church. I wonder how they will explain that to God at judgment. The ends justify the means? I've herd LDS does things like this in Russia and South America.

Actually I can affirm this.  I work for the area agency on aging for Philadelphia which serves a great many homebound elderly in Philly.  I've gotten quite a few cases in Northeast Philly where the elderly person was raised Orthodox but are now some  form of Protestant because when they came over they ran into people who spoke their native language and assured them they were Orthodox even down to the use of icons.  The same holds true of the Hispanic elderly who come up from Latin America.  

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« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2009, 03:40:54 PM »

Serge,

The reason that I asked is because this is a discussion forum and we want to keep the discussion flowing.  It's not as easy for someone to quote your thoughts and respond if they are on another page.

Also, you don't post here as much as you used to and so someone might not know that your blog is linked in your sig.

A third consideration is that in 2 years someone might look for the entry and not find it on your blog, not knowing where it is in the archive.

just to prove you right Father (though it's been 5 years) Grin
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