In the first few centuries after Christ, the term “Catholic Church” was used to describe________________________


a. set of Christian beliefs/ a group of believers with no necessary hierarchy

b. the Church that, by definition, was in union with Rome, and was led by direct successors of apostles



THE ANSWER IS….. B….the “Catholic Church” referred to the Church that necessarily was in union with Rome, was led by a direct successor of St. Peter, and whose bishops could trace their offices straight down the line to an apostle.


Catholic by itself means “universal.” But whenever the word “Church” came after it, early Christians everywhere knew the speaker was not referring merely to the body of believers. They were referring to the visible true Church that was founded in Rome. Check out the following web sites:


http://www.cin.org/archives/apolo/200005/0111.html (the term “Catholic”)

http://www.chnetwork.org/journals/nesschurch/ness_4.htm (The Church of the Early Fathers)








http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ12.HTM (The Church)

http://www.turrisfortis.com/hierarchy.html (The Catholic Hierarchy)

http://www.catholicapologetics.info/origin.htm (When Was the Catholic Church founded?)

http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/unity5.html (The Ancient Rule of Faith & Schism)

Finally, Early Church historian J.N.D. Kelly, who is Protestant, wrote:

"As regards “Catholic” . . . in the latter half of the second century at latest, we find it conveying the suggestion that the Catholic is the true Church as distinct from heretical congregations (cf., e.g., Muratorian Canon). . . . What these early fathers were envisaging was almost always the empirical, visible society; they had little or no inkling of the distinction which was later to become important between a visible and an invisible Church." (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrine, Harper & Row, 1960), p. 190.) (claire’s emphasis)





Back to StillCatholic.com







Quick Links on the Early Church: Church Fathers, Life of St. Augustine, St. Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons), Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Pelagianism, The Confessions by St. Augustine, The City of God by St. Augustine, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, Epistle to St. Polycarp, St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Jerome, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Barnabas, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, Eusebius, The Faith of the Early Church Fathers book, Did the Church Fathers Believe in Sola Scriptura? Foundations of Protestantism, Still Catholic