(The). The Church considered as a whole, as distinguished from parish churches. When the Western Church broke off from the Eastern, the Eastern Church called itself the Orthodox Church, and the Western Church adopted the term Catholic. At the Reformation the Western Church was called by the Reformers the Roman Catholic Church, and the British Established Church was called the “Protestant Church,” the “Reformed National Church,” or the “Anglo-Catholic Church.” It is foolish and misleading to call the Anglican Church the Catholic Church, as at most it is only a branch thereof. No Protestant would think of calling himself a Catholic.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894