I have seen some oriential catholic rites call themself as roman catholic. In my knowledge roman catholic church is the latin rite of the church. Can any rite of the catholic church call themself as Roman Catholic?

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    There are Catholics who are conducting their own ceremonies and sacraments, sometimes pre Vatican II or post Vatican II approved. Mel Gibbs is one such Catholic I had heard about that doesn't approve of or permit the Vatican II changes, in his personal worship. But the Roman Catholic church itself considers the changes to be part of the apostolic authority descended from Peter, as well as the changes introduced in the various ecumenical councils. Jun 27, 2017 at 21:17

2 Answers 2


This is a bit of a difficult issue; the truth is that the Catholic Church herself does not usually define herself as "Roman Catholic Apostolic Church;" Most usually you will find simply "the Church", but sometimes "the Catholic Church" when needing to differentiate between the herself and the Eastern Patriarchates, or the Protestant Churches. For example:

  • Orientalium Ecclesiarum, the Vatican II conciliar document which deals with the Eastern Rites, only uses the adjective "Roman" in reference to the Roman Pontiff.
  • The Code of Canon Law also uses the term "Roman" basically to refer to the Roman Pontiff, Roman Curia, Roman See/Roman Church (here referring to the particular Church of the Diocese of Rome), and once the "Roman Synod" of Vatican II in the introduction.
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions the term Roman to refer to:
    • The Roman Catechism, created under the orders of the Conciliar Fathers of the Council of Trent, a predecessor to the modern CCC;
    • The Roman Rite, which is the Latin Rite developed in the City of Rome itself, as opposed to the Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Gallican, Dominican, Carthusian, and other Rites and Uses in the Latin family both past and present (see Paragraph 1203);
    • The Roman Missal, Roman Canon, and Roman Liturgy, the books, prayers and liturgy which the Roman Rite makes use of.

In all cases, these documents avoid the use of the term "Roman Catholic", which is in any case a term born of the interplay between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches, in order to emphasize (either positively or negatively) the communion with the Bishop of Rome. In this sense, the Eastern Rites are Roman due to communion, but not Roman due to liturgy. Since the term is thus ambiguous, we're better off avoiding it for more precise terminology.

  • So among the catholic rites what does the church call itself. Calling simply catholic church is ambigous. Hence it has to have a preper name for it Jun 29, 2017 at 15:28
  • @RichardThomas: Depends on what part of the Church you're talking about. It can be the "Latin Rite Church" for the particular Churches which use the Roman, Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Bragan, etc. Rites. If it's one of those specific Rites, it's the Ambrosian Church, Roman Church, etc. If it's those Churches that use the Byzantine Rite, then the Bizantine Rite Church, and among them the Greek, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Italo-Albanian, Syro-Melchite, etc., Church.
    – Wtrmute
    Jun 29, 2017 at 18:33

There are several "Eastern rites" within the Catholic Church. These may have originated as individual Eastern Orthodox congregations who wanted to re-unite with the West on their own. Rome allowed them to keep their liturgical traditions, including such things as married priests and the use of Greek rather than Latin scriptures, so they may appear just like Eastern Orthodox with the exception that they acknowledge the Pope's authority. Because there are so few of these in the English-speaking countries, we hear very little about them, or might mistake them for Eastern Orthodox. One recent exception was, when the Ukraine-Russia conflict was making headlines a few years ago, I noticed that the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox churches were both in the news, highlighting the fact that they are distinct.

There are also some distinct "rites" within the Western/Latin part of the church, such as the Ambrosian rite used in Milan, and some rites for specific religious orders.

More recently, in 2009 Pope Benedict XVI created an "Anglican Ordinariate" to allow Anglican congregations to re-join the Catholic church. Like the Eastern congregations, they may be allowed to keep their married priests and other traditions, as long as they acknowledge unity with the Church. That's the first such structure aimed at a Protestant denomination.

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