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Roman Catholic Church

Introduction

Roman Catholic Church, Christian church headed by the pope, the bishop of Rome (see papacy and Peter, Saint). Its commonest title in official use is Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. "Roman Catholic" is a 19th-century British coinage and merely serves to distinguish that church from other churches that are "Catholic" (see catholic church). The term "Roman Church," when used officially, means only the archdiocese of Rome. Roman Catholics may be simply defined as Christians in communion with the pope.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


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