The anti-Catholics have accused the Holy Catholic Church for being a false church on the account of her name. They insisted that the descriptive name of the Church, i.e. Catholic, is never biblical. But, is it true?
The word Catholic [derived from the Late Latin Catholicus and from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos) meaning “universal”] comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (katholou), meaning “on the whole”, “according to the whole”, “throughout all” or “in general”, and is a combination of the Greek words κατά meaning “about” and ὅλος meaning “whole”. In Latin, the word Catholic is also translated as “Universa”, which can be read in the Holy Bible:
“Et factus est timor magnus in UNIVERSA ECCLESIA et in omnes qui audierpunt haec” (Acts 5:11 Latin Translation)
Note that in the given verse, the word Universa literally means “for/of all nations”. But why is the church described and named as Universal? It is simply because our Lord Jesus Christ Himself wanted the church to be called as such, as He said:
“Is it not written, My house shall be called OF ALL NATIONS the house of prayer?” (Mark 11:17 KJV)
What does the House of God mean in the New Testament? This is what St. Paul the Apostle said:
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the HOUSE OF GOD, which is the CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15 KJV)
Therefore, the House of God is the indeed the Church of the living God, and yet our Lord Jesus Christ wanted it to be called OF ALL NATIONS. Thus, the Church is the Church of all nations, the Universal Church, the Catholic Church. (Note that Catholic means Universal, and Universal also means Of All Nations.)
Furthermore, the Church, being Universal, can be found not just in Jerusalem but also in different localities. However, the Church’s universality does not mean plurality. The Church remains ONE and unified wherever she may be. That is why the Church is Throughout All. As the Holy Bible testified:
“So the CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:31 ESV)
In the original Greek version of the Holy Bible, this is what it said:
Acts 9:31 (Greek Bible), “ai men oun EKKLESIA KATH OLES tēs ioudaias kai galilaias kai samareias eichon eirēnēn oikodomoumenai kai poreuomenai tō phobō tou kuriou kai tē paraklēsei tou agiou pneumatos eplēthunonto.”
Notice that the verse in the original Biblical language used the term EKKLESIA KATH OLES (Church Throughout all), a Church present not just in Judea but also in Galilee and Samaria. It is the same term where the word Catholic was derived from. The Church, founded by our Lord, was indeed described and called KATH OLES (Catholic).
Why in Greek?
It is because Greek was the original language used by the holy authors to compose the Sacred Books of the New Testament. It is therefore unjust to use Filipino or English to justify the claims of the non-Catholics and unbelievers that the Holy Catholic Church is unbiblical. Even the word Catholic was also from Greek, so it is very much proper to use the language where it was taken from.
Finally, as Prophet Isaiah prophesied:
“Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an HOUSE of prayer FOR ALL PEOPLE.” (Isaiah 56:7)