Ask Ambrose: Capitalizing C’s

Dear Ambrose,

Could someone please explain why we make such a big deal about being part of the lower case “c” as in the “catholic” church meaning universal but in Form III of the BCP we pray for the “holy Catholic Church” with a capital “C”?

Is this autocorrect at work? Or is perhaps there some exception that it’s lower case in the Nicene Creed as in, “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church”?

Signed, Confused

Dear Confused,

Thanks for your question.  Ambrose is always delighted to help out in any way.

The lower case “c” refers to a local expression of a church or congregation in a limited area; “C” refers to the broader or the universal church.