Why Catholic

The word Catholic

Catholic comes from the Greek katholikos, the combination of two words: kata- concerning, and holos- whole. Thus, concerning the whole. According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the word catholic comes from a Greek word meaning “regarding the whole,” or more simply, “universal” or “general.” Universal comes from two Greek words: uni- one, and vertere- turning. In other words, a “one turning”, “revolving around one,” or “turned into one”. 1 The word church comes from the Greek ecclesia which means “those called out,” as in those summoned out of the world at large to form a distinct society. So the Catholic Church is made up of those called out and gathered into the universal visible society founded by Christ himself.


The first recorded use of the word is found very early in Christian literature. We find the first instance the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch who was a young man during the time of the apostles and the second bishop of Antioch following Peter. Ignatius was immersed in the living tradition of the local church in Antioch where the believers in Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). He was alive early enough to know the apostles and was taught and ordained directly by the apostles.

Within a few short years of the Resurrection, the followers of Jesus began calling themselves “Christians” (Acts 11:26), and by the end of the first century, the word “catholic”-meaning “universal”-was applied to the Church.

The idea of different (and sometimes competing) Christian denominations would have been unthinkable to the early Christians, especially in light of Christ’s pronouncement on one shepherd and one flock (John 10:15), and his prayer that his disciples remain one (John 17:22).

It was only human weakness and sinfulness that brought about the religious divisions that afflict Christianity today. The Orthodox church drew apart from Rome off and on over several hundred years, finally separating in the eleventh century.

The various Protestant denominations date back no earlier than the sixteenth century, when Martin Luther decided he didn’t like some church teachings and King Henry the VIII wanted to get divorced.

These churches can trace their roots back to Christ only through the Catholic Church. To put the matter rather bluntly: Why have anything else when you can have the real thing-especially when it comes to knowing and living the truths necessary for salvation?

Many denominations today claim as their rule of faith the Bible Alone, ironically relying on the Catholic Church for it’s canon.

A Brief review of scripture itself, what the early Christians and Fathers of the Church taught and believed shows that Christ left One Apostolic Church

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