Letters to the Editor
[Letters of the length of one of our" News of the Week" paragraphs are often m)re read, and therefore more effective, than those which fill treble the space. They should be written clearly on one side of the paper only.] THE WORD "CATHOLIC" [To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—On April 10th, 1902, the Archbishops and Bishops of
the Church of Ireland communicated the following statement on the word " Catholic " to the General Synod of the Church of Ireland. The Synod received the communication as an able and straightforward statement as to what has been always held and expressed by the Church of Ireland.
" The Archbishops and Bishops call the attention of members of the Church to the increasing misuse of the term Catholic,' to describe, without any qualifying designation, that body of Christians only who acknowledge the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. Members of the Roman Catholic Church are now commonly desig- nated as Catholics,' while members of our Church, and others who hold all the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church as defined in the ancient creeds, are frequently described as ' non-Catholics.' This is not a mere question of names and words.' The Catholic character of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of the Society which He founded is one great feature which distinguishes Christianity from all other religious systems. Christ's Church is universal, or Catholic, in the fullest sense of the term ; its mission is to all ; its membership includes persons of 'all nations, and kindreds, and People, and tongues.' If we now surrender our title of membership in the Catholic Church and concede it to those only who accept the authority of a particular Bishop, we give up an important point in that faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. So important was this point held to be in early Christian times, that belief in the Holy Catholic Church ' was made an article of faith by those who compiled our creeds. To be a ` non-Catholic ' is to be outside the Body of Christ ; and to be described as not a Catholic' is equivalent to being described as not a Christian.' It is probable that in many cases these terms are used thought- lessly,, without considering their significance and importance ; but we cannot consent thus to narrow the Church of Christ, or to accept the position of aliens from the commonwealth of the Israel of God."