The Problem of Catholic Name-Calling

Here’s the audio clip of my recent interview on “The Catholics Next Door” show, which airs on the Sirius Satellite Radio network (The Catholic Channel). Hosts Greg & Jennifer Willits and I discussed the problem of name-calling among Catholics, including epithets such as “neo-Catholic.” Take a listen.

Also, as suggested by a reader of this blog, here are some comments about this problem made back in 1914 by Pope Benedict XV in his encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum. They seem quite apropos:

As regards matters in which without harm to faith or discipline — in the absence of any authoritative intervention of the Apostolic See — there is room for divergent opinions, it is clearly the right of everyone to express and defend his own opinion. But in such discussions no expressions should be used which might constitute serious breaches of charity; let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline.

It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as “profane novelties of words,” out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: “This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved” (Athanassian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim “Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,” only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself. . . . (continue reading)


  1. Nick

    Best Catholic insult: Taco Catholic.Because tacos, for all their deliciousness, have no souls.

  2. Ellen Stanford

    I find a lot more name calling of Catholics from my protestant "brothers" One "friend" calls us "cat licks" then hoots with laughter. I find this a lot more offensive.

  3. Mary Rose

    Great podcast! I really enjoyed it, Patrick. As someone who has witnessed too many "church splits" within non-denominational churches, I can wholeheartedly vouch for the dangers of being judgmental. However, I do wonder how much of this is due to the issue of Catholic identity. There are some Catholics who feel that their pro-choice beliefs are justified under the "informed conscience" category. The same is for those who believe in priestly ordination for women. Also, I wonder if as a society we've become a little jaded toward church authority. With disappointment, comes cynicism. Do you think a judgmental attitude could be the result of protecting oneself from trusting and then feeling betrayed when someone (or a group) breaks that trust? This topic has given me much thought as I examine my own heart.


    As a 'Lefebrvist' I see what you mean.

  5. The Lady Dragon

    We desire that this practice… of using distinctive names by which Catholics are marked off from other Catholics, should cease; such names must be avoided… [they] are neither true nor just… they lead to great disturbance and confuse the Catholic body." – Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi ApostolorumI could not listen to the audio clip, so if Mr. Madrid included this quote from the Holy Father I apologize.

  6. joan

    Heretics, Modernists,blasphemy is a good start. Then, they used to say excommunication.

  7. Tom

    Welcomed response, PatrickIt's not just Benedict XV but also Benedict XVI who opposes this disunity:Subject: John Salza responds to opposition to Catholic Unity and is treated well by those friendly to the SSPX,091206,j_salza,j._bagnoli,re_mr_weigel_s_vat_ii_article_final,34_min.mp3

  8. Tom

    Good job showing that this is more pervasive than Mark suggests. Even those who rail against those they call divisive are guilty. Thank also for the mea culpa. We all need to examine our own actions first. I pray for unity in the Church and am alarmed at the way members of the SSPX are called all sorts of names.Here is a better link to the audio: always, a great job.

  9. Jenni

    Tom,I am also alarmed at the way SSPX members refer to others with all sorts of pejorative lables.We should probaly just call a spade a spade and call those who openly oppose the teaching of the Church heretics. Only, that would require that those now slinging around the various names actually knew Church teaching well enough to differentiate what was defined doctrine and what cold be held as an oppinion.

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