Confessing the Catholicity of the Church

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Starting from a recent discussion in the Netherlands about the application of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication for the internet extension ‘.catholic,’ the author inquires into the meaning of confessing the catholicity of the church. He shows that ‘catholic’ is a title phrase, a descriptive term that often functions as a proper name. It is important to distinguish between both functions (naming and describing); in the PCSC application ‘catholic’ functions, contrary to what its critics assume, as a proper name. In ecumenical discussions, the main problem with catholicity is the Roman Catholic Church’s alleged all-or-nothing approach to catholicity, in which it asserts its own catholicity which rejecting the claim that other churches are catholic. This approach, however, has been abandoned for a degrees of catholicity approach which allows the Roman Catholic Church to recognise the catholicity of Protestant churches. Finally, the author argues that confessing the catholicity of the church is rather like pledging ourselves to furthering this catholicity than like asserting that this catholicity has been achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-168
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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