A response to those who ask any of these questions:
- Are Catholics Christians?
- Are you a Christian or a Catholic?
Ironically like the word “Christian”, the word “Catholic” also was used by a bishop of Antioch named Ignatius. In his letter written to Christians in Smyrna, He says:
“Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]) (emphasis added)
Other historical accounts of the use of the word “Catholic” in the early Church includes:
“And of the elect, he was one indeed, the wonderful martyr Polycarp, who in our days was an apostolic and prophetic teacher, bishop of the Catholic Church in Smyrna. For every word which came forth from his mouth was fulfilled and will be fulfilled” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 16:2 [A.D. 155]) (emphasis added)
St. Irenaeus of Lyon:
“…the Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said.” (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]) (emphasis added)
“The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of apostolical doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles.” (Against Heresies 3:4 [A.D. 189]) (emphasis added)
“Where was [the heretic] Marcion, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago–in the reign of Antonius for the most part–and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherius, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled” (Demurrer Against the Heretics 30 [A.D. 200]) (emphasis added)
Cyril of Jerusalem:
“It is called Catholic, then, because it extends over the whole world, from end to end of the earth, and because it teaches universally and infallibly each and every doctrine which must come to the knowledge of men, concerning things visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly, and because it brings every race of men into subjection to godliness, governors and governed, learned and unlearned, and because it universally treats and heals every class of sins, those committed with the soul and those with the body, and it possesses within itself every conceivable form of virtue, in deeds and in words and in the spiritual gifts of every description” (Catechetical Lectures 18:23 [A.D. 350]) (emphasis added)
“And if you ever are visiting in cities, do not inquire simply where the house of the Lord is–for the others, sects of the impious, attempt to call their dens ‘houses of the Lord’–nor ask merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the name peculiar to this holy Church, the Mother of us all, which is the Spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God” (Catechetical Lectures 18:26 [A.D. 350]) (emphasis added)