Eastern Catholics are still *Roman* Catholics, says Fr Joseph Ratzinger


This is a helpful explanation to my Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters who have often insisted that they are *not* “Roman” Catholics. Fr. Ratzinger speaks of the word “Roman” as not indicative of a ritual, but of the essential dynamic that exists in the episcopate itself, namely, where the Head is stationed in relation to all the lawfully governing Bishops of the world.

“Let us finally turn once more to the religious-statistical formula ‘Roman Catholic’ with which we started. Basically it reflects the entire complex of problems which we have gone through in the course of these considerations. In that it says ‘Catholic’ it is distinguished from a Christianity based on Scripture alone, and instead acknowledges faith in the authority of the living word, i.e., in the office of the apostolic succession. In that it says ‘Roman’ it firmly refers this office to its centre, the office of the keys vested in the successor of St. Peter in the city consecrated by the blood of two Apostles. by uniting the two to say ‘Roman Catholic’ it expressed the pregnant dialectic between primacy and episcopate, neither of which exists without the other. A church which wished to be only ‘Catholic’, having no part with Rome, would thereby lose its Catholicity. A Church which, per impossibile, wished to be only Roman without being Catholic, would similarly deny herself and degenerate into a sect. ‘Roman’ guarantees true Catholicity; actual Catholicity attests Rome’s right.” (Fr. Joseph Ratzinger – The Episcopate and the Primacy, page 62)

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