ONE, HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC written by Kenneth D. Whitehead is a retired United States Assistant Secretary of Education. He was a career diplomat who served in Rome and the Middle East. Later he was the executive vice president of Catholics United for the Faith.
Page 301 explains in clear detail is it the Roman Catholic Church or is it the Catholic Church?
The term 'Roman Catholic' was originally applied by people who disagree with the Catholic church's claim to be the church (when they were not just referring to it as 'the Roman Church'). Over the centuries the usage has mutated, and term has been applied for various reasons, and is used by many people as if it were the official name of the church.
The Catholic Church ('C' as capital) is that group of churches in communion with the pope. If a group isn’t in communion with the pope, it isn’t part of the Catholic Church. Within the Catholic Church there are a number of individual churches, sometimes called rites. One of these is the Roman rite or Roman church. It includes most of the Catholics in the Western world.
A Roman Catholic is a Catholic who is a member of the Roman rite. There are many Catholics in the East who are not Roman Catholics, such as Maronite Catholics, Ukrainian Catholics, and Chaldean Catholics. These are all in communion with the pope, but they are not members of the Roman rite, so they are not Roman Catholics. The Roman rite is not stricter than these other rights. They are equal. They all teach the same faith; it is only local customs that are different among them.
So how the term Roman got attached to the name?
It is not possible to give an exact year when the term "Roman Catholic Church," began to be called. The term is assumed to originated as a reference created by Anglicans who wished to refer to themselves as Catholic. They thus coined the term "Roman Catholic" to distinguish those in union with Rome from themselves. Different variants of the reference "Roman" appeared at different times. The earliest form was the noun "Romanist" (one belonging to the Catholic Church), which appeared in England about 1515-1525. The next to develop was the adjective "Romish" (similar to something done or believed in the Catholic Church), which appeared around 1525-1535. Next came the noun "Roman Catholic" (one belonging to the Catholic Church), which was coined around 1595-1605. Shortly thereafter came the verb "to Romanize" (to make someone a Catholic or to become a Catholic), which appeared around 1600-10. Between 1665 and 1675 we got the noun "Romanism" (the system of Catholic beliefs and practices), and finally we got a latecomer term about 1815-1825, the noun "Roman Catholicism," a synonym for the earlier "Romanism."
Kenneth D. Whitehead who was a prolific Catholic author, linguist, editor and book translator. In his younger years, he served as a diplomat in Rome, Lebanon and Libya. States: The term Roman Catholic is at times used to refer to the "Roman Rite", which is not a church but a form of liturgy. i.e. When the term "Roman Catholic" is used as part of the name of a parish it usually indicates that it is a Western parish that follows the Roman Rite in its liturgy, The Second Vatican Council did NOT use the term "Roman Catholic Church and in one important passage of the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium replaced it with an equivalent phrase, "the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in union with that successor," while also giving in a footnote a reference to two earlier documents in which the word "Roman" was used explicitly.
The Creed which we recite on Sundays and holy days speaks of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As everybody knows, however, the Church referred to in this Creed is more commonly called just the Catholic Church. It is not, by the way, properly called the Roman Catholic Church, but simply the Catholic Church.
The term Roman Catholic is not used by the Church herself; it is a relatively modern term, and one, moreover, that is confined largely to the English language.
The English-speaking bishops at the First Vatican Council in 1870, in fact, conducted a vigorous and successful campaign to insure that the term Roman Catholic was nowhere included in any of the Council's official documents about the Church herself, and the term was not included. Similarly, nowhere in the 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council will you find the term Roman Catholic.
Pope Paul VI signed all the documents of the Second Vatican Council as "I, Paul. Bishop of the Catholic Church." Simply that -- Catholic Church.
There are references to the Roman curia, the Roman missal, the Roman rite, etc., but when the adjective Roman is applied to the Church herself, it refers to the Diocese of Rome! So the proper name for the universal Church is not the Roman Catholic Church. Far from it. That term caught on mostly in English-speaking countries; it was promoted mostly by Anglicans, supporters of the "branch theory" of the Church, namely, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the creed was supposed to consist of three major branches, the Anglican, the Orthodox and the so-called Roman Catholic. It was to avoid that kind of interpretation that the English-speaking bishops at Vatican I succeeded in warning the Church away from ever using the term officially herself: It too easily could be misunderstood.