As your kind and long-suffering blogger, when you leave comments here, I ask that you consider the following:
(1) In referring to that group of Christians in communion with the Bishop of Rome (regardless of rite or local tradition), let us use the generic term “Catholic” (capitalized), according to the common English usage (even if, theologically speaking, you find your own communion to be as “catholic” as the communion of Rome, more “catholic” than this communion, or even the sole “catholic church” of the Creed).
- When referring to the notion of catholic Christianity in a broad sense, as encompassing not only Rome’s communion but also Chalcedonian Orthodox, non-Chalcedonian Orthodox, Old Catholics, or Anglo-Catholics, it would be helpful to use the uncapitalized word “catholic.” (A good description of broad Christian catholicity is the following: “credally orthodox, sacramental, liturgical, episcopal, believes in a complete and lasting change of the elements at Communion and believes in an infallible church.“).
(2) In referring to those Christians in communion with the Bishop of Rome who worship according to the Latin Rite and belong canonically to the Church of Rome, let us use the terms “Roman Catholic” or “Latin Catholic.” Please do not use the term “Roman Catholic” with general reference to those Christians in communion with Rome, for the sake of peace and Christian charity.
- There are other catholic Christians who worship according to the Western/Latin tradition, but are not in communion with Rome: “Old Catholics” (of the Utrecht communion, or the Polish National Catholic Church in the USA), “Anglo-Catholics” (high church Anglicans either in the official Canterbury communion or one of the continuing Anglican-type bodies), and “Western Rite Orthodox” (mostly within the jurisdictions of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia), not to mention various sorts of “independent Catholics”.
(3) In referring to those Christians in communion with the Bishop of Rome who worship according to a non-Latin or non-Roman Rite and belong canonically to one of the other sui juris Churches in communion with Rome, let us use the general term “Eastern Catholic” (unless you are referring to one of the specific traditions, such as Melkite, Ukrainian, Armenian, Syro-Malabar, etc.). For Catholics who worship according to the Byzantine tradition, the terms “Byzantine Catholic” or “Greek Catholic” are acceptable.
(4) In referring to those Christians who belong to the communion of the 15 autocephalous Chalcedonian Churches including Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, and Russia, let us use the generic term “Orthodox” (even if, theologically speaking, you find your own communion to be as “orthodox” or more “orthodox” than this communion, or even the only fully “orthodox church” of Christendom).
- Another acceptable general term for these Christians is “Eastern Orthodox” (although there are a handful of Western Rite Orthodox Christians who might object to this term applied to themselves), which also becomes necessary another communion of churches, commonly called the “Oriental Orthodox” (Non-Chalcedonian), enters the conversation.
- Some Eastern Catholics are wont to refer to themselves as “Orthodox in Communion with Rome,” a description which many Orthodox Christians find dubious and inaccurate at best. It might be helpful, for the sake of peace, to avoid this terminology as much as possible, unless the concept can be debated in a respectful and irenic manner.
- When referring to a general notion of Christian credal orthodoxy, it would be helpful to use the uncapitalized word “orthodox.”
(5) For the sake of peace and Christian charity, let us avoid the following sorts of terminology (when writing in our own words; exceptions can be made for historical documents): “Roman Catholic” (referring generally to Christians in communion with Rome, and especially in reference to those of non-Roman liturgical/theological traditions), “Romans”, “Papists,” “Latins”, “Western schismatics/heretics”, “Eastern/Greek/Oriental dissidents/schismatics”, “Photians”, “Byzantines”, “Monophysites” (with reference to the contemporary Oriental Orthodox).
Please try your best to adhere to these general guidelines. I am not trying to impose some sort of “politically correct” speech, or Orwellian Newspeak, on anybody. I am simply trying to make the combox conversations as smooth, peaceful, charitable, and fruitful as possible.
Did I forget anything?
Revised: March 25, 2008