The Definition of Catholic
The Catholic Church is not just another denomination within Christianity, it is the universal community established by Jesus. The word catholic literally means “universal.” Catholic has its origins in Greek from kata meaning “concerning” and holou meaning “whole” thus “concerning the whole” or universal
The First Time “Catholic” was Used
The Catholic Church is universal in that it is intended for all people, for all time, and is appropriate in every circumstance of human life. The term catholic was first used to describe the original Christian community after the time of Jesus by Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) in his letter to the Smyrneans (8, 2).
A Name for the Institutional Church
In today’s terms the Catholic Church also refers to the institutional church, the one that recognizes the pope as its leader. In some Lutheran worship services they recite the Apostle’s Creed in which they profess they believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. This reference is with a little “c” meaning that they believe in the whole of Christianity not to the exclusion of other denominations. A capital “C” reference would be to the institutional church.