Dictionary of Church Terms
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An eastern expression means "general," or "universal." The church is described in the creeds as catholic, because it is universal, holding earnestly the one faith for all times, in all countries, for all people, and is sent to preach the gospel to the whole world.

It was first met with in Christian literature inSt. Ignatius of Antioch (Ep. ad Smyr. 8. 2.). In Christian terminology it has come to have various uses: 1. Identifying the universal Church as distinct from local Christian churches. 2. In the sense of "orthodox," as distinct from "heretical," or from "schismatical."

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