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Catholic can be an adjective or a noun.


The adjective Catholic means universal, therefore a Catholic Church considers itself the universal church.

Roman Catholicism[edit]

Traditionally the Catholic Church is seen as the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholics often insist on calling themselves just Catholics because they think they are the only universal church of Christ and the connection with Rome is secondary. When Catholic refers to the Roman Catholic Church is is written with a capital. It also refers to the Eastern Catholic churches, which form part of the Roman Catholic Church, yet follow Eastern rather than Roman traditions in liturgy and other matters

Other Christians[edit]

Naturally other Christians disagree that only Roman Catholics are part of the universal church. Lutherans and the Church of England also see themselves as catholic or part of a universal church as do other churches that follow the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds.

The term Catholic can also be used to refer to splinter groups which have broken away from the Roman Catholic Church. It is used in particular to refer to those groups which while breaking away maintain much of the Roman Catholic church's traditions - as opposed to Protestant churches, which rejected much of the Roman Catholic Church's traditions when they split from it.

High Church outside Roman Catholicism[edit]

Catholic also refers to a tendency in Anglicanism (Anglo-Catholicism), which sees the Anglican church as nearer to the Roman Catholic Church than to Protestantism, and thus adopts much of the Roman Catholic church's tradition (including belief in purgatory). A similar tendency also exists in the Lutheran churches (Evangelical Catholicism).

Ordinary adjective[edit]

Catholic can also be used as an ordinary adjective, eg, "Leslie likes to date both boys and girls, he/she has catholic tastes in sex."


The noun Catholic means a person who believes in Roman Catholicism, who used to believe in Roman Catholicism or who was at some time baptised into the Roman Catholic Church, perhaps as a baby but never believed it. Catholics have a doctrine that once a Catholic always a Catholic.

The term Catholic can further refer to the followers of one of the other churches that call themselves Catholic, such as the Old Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, or the Palmarian Catholic Church.