Independent Catholic Churches

Independent Catholic Churches

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Independent Catholic churches are Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 congregations that are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 or any other churches whose sacraments are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church (such as the Eastern Orthodox and some Oriental Orthodox and Anglican churches). Virtually all groups in the Independent Catholic movement claim to have valid apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 for their bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s. Bishops in Independent Catholic Churches are sometimes referred to as episcopi vagantes
Episcopi vagantes
Episcopi vagantes are persons who have been consecrated as Christian bishops outside the structures and canon law of the established churches, and who are not in communion with any generally recognized diocese...

("wandering bishops") because of their lack of affiliation with a larger communion of churches.

History


Although the term Old Catholic was first used in 1853 to describe those Catholics belonging to Utrecht
Utrecht
Utrecht is a city in the Netherlands.The name may also refer to:* Utrecht , of which Utrecht is the capital* Utrecht , including the city of Utrecht* Bishopric of Utrecht* Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Utrecht...

, Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, most scholars date the "modern" Old Catholic movement to the 1870s. After the First Vatican Council
First Vatican Council
The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This twentieth ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned...

 in 1870 considerable groups of Austrian
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

, German and Swiss Catholics rejected the declaration of papal infallibility
Papal infallibility
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when in his official capacity he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals...

 and left to form their own churches independent of the pope. These churches were supported by the Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht who ordained their priests and bishops. Later they united more formally under the name Utrecht Union of Churches
Utrecht Union
The Union of Utrecht is a federation of Old Catholic Churches, not in communion with Rome, that seceded from the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of Papal infallibility. The Declaration of Utrecht solidified this movement in 1889...

.

The Independent Catholic movement came to Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 in 1908 when Arnold Harris Mathew
Arnold Mathew
Arnold Harris Mathew was the first Old Catholic bishop in the United Kingdom.Mathew was a suspended Roman Catholic priest before joining the Old Catholic movement...

 was consecrated a bishop in the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht. Utrecht incorrectly believed that Mathew had a significant following in the United Kingdom, and also that there would be a wave of clergy wanting to leave the Church of England as a result of Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

's declaration that Anglican orders were null and void. Mathew believed that Old Catholicism would provide a home for these disaffected clergy; however, the mass conversions failed to occur. Before breaking with the Union of Utrecht
Union of Utrecht
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain....

, Mathew ordained several individuals to the episcopacy and priesthood, from whom a number of new churches quickly developed, including the Liberal Catholic Church
Liberal Catholic Church
The Liberal Catholic Church is a form of Christianity open to theosophical ideas and even reincarnation. It is not connected to the Roman Catholic Church, which considers it heretical and schismatic...

, the first bishop of which was James Wedgwood, consecrated by F.S. Willoughby, who had in turn been consecrated by Mathew.

Joseph René Vilatte
Joseph René Vilatte
Joseph René Vilatte was, at different times, a Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Russian Orthodox and Jacobite...

, an Old Catholic priest, is credited with being the first person to bring the independent movement to North America , in 1892 Vilatte travelled to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 where he obtained ordination to the episcopacy by the Oriental Orthodox bishops in India. Over the following twenty-eight years Vilatte consecrated a number of men to the episcopacy. These bishops, or their successors, went on to found many different jurisdictions in North America.

Groupings


Many, but not all, Independent Catholic clergy claim descent from the Old Catholics of Utrecht, although Utrecht does not officially accept their orders. Like Orthodoxy, Utrecht holds that ordinations can only be done within the church as a whole and with appropriate authority. Some independent groups in North America began life as Protestant and/or Charismatic congregations; for example, the Charismatic Episcopal Church
Charismatic Episcopal Church
The Charismatic Episcopal Church, more officially known as the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church , is an international Christian denomination established as an autocephalous communion in 1992...

 came into being when charismatic fellowships rediscovered both sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

alism and the historical apostolic succession. Another group, the Evangelical Orthodox Church
Evangelical Orthodox Church
The Evangelical Orthodox Church is an Eastern Orthodox Christian movement with its origins in Evangelical Protestantism, particularly in the Campus Crusade for Christ student missionary organization, that came to embrace an Eastern tradition of Christianity....

, found its way into mainstream Eastern Orthodoxy: one part joined the Antiochan Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in 1987, other parishes later entered the Orthodox Church in America
Orthodox Church in America
The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah , who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008...

, whilst a remnant, which does not claim traditional apostolic succession, kept the name EOC and continued as an independent communion. Since the orders of the EOC were not regarded as valid by the Orthodox bishops, the reception of clergy into mainstream Orthodoxy was always accompanied by ordination.

The Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church
Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church
The Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church is an independent Catholic church established in 1945 by Brazilian bishop Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, a former Roman Catholic Bishop of Botucatu.The ICAB has 58 dioceses and claims five million members in 17 countries...

 was founded in the 1940s when Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa withdrew from the Roman Catholic Church in protest against that church's perceived support of Nazis who had fled to Latin America and its neglect of the needs of the poor. Duarte Costa went on to consecrate other bishops in Europe as well as North and South America. Several Independent Catholic bodies trace their apostolic succession through Duarte Costa, including the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America.

A number of liturgical churches are sometimes regarded as Independent Catholics, but do not fit neatly in this category. Continuing Anglican Churches are sometimes included in this grouping, but this is controversial, especially with regard to the larger Anglican bodies, and these Continuing Churches do not count themselves as being within the Independent Catholic movement. Traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholics are Roman Catholics who believe that there should be a restoration of many or all of the liturgical forms, public and private devotions and presentations of Catholic teachings which prevailed in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council...

 groups are sometimes regarded as Independent Catholics (i.e. not in communion with the pope), but they do not see themselves in this manner; rather they regard themselves as being the true Church, believing that Catholicism has embraced teachings which are schismatic
Schismatic
Depending on the context, schismatic may mean:* a member of a schism, or, as an adjective, of or pertaining to a schism* pertaining to the schisma in music* Schismatic temperament...

, or even heretical
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 since the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

. A similar controversy exists regarding the Old Calendar
Greek Old Calendarists
Greek Old Calendarists are groups that separated from the Orthodox Church of Greece or from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, precipitated by disagreement over the abandonment of the traditional Julian Calendar.- History :Up until the early 20th century, the Eastern Orthodox Church used the...

 Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions, including the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is one of the three major Orthodox Churches in Ukraine. Close to ten percent of the Christian population claim to be members of the UAOC. The other Churches are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Russophile Orthodox...

 and bodies which split from mainstream Orthodoxy specifically in order to maintain the Old Liturgical Calendar. There have been attempts to construct broader categories to include many of these groups, for example the Independent Sacramental Movement
Independent Sacramental Movement
The Independent Sacramental Movement refers to the extremely loose collection of orders, churches, jurisdictions, and freelance clergy made up of sacramental Christians who are not part of the historic sacramental denominations...

, but most of these groups would be uncomfortable with such a characterisation.

Evangelical Catholic groups such as the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church
Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church
The Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church , formerly the Evangelical Community Church-Lutheran , is a church in the Lutheran Evangelical Catholic tradition. The ALCC claims to be unique among Lutheran churches in that it is of both Lutheran and Anglo-Catholic heritage and has also been significantly...

 (formerly the Evangelical Community Church-Lutheran,) describe themselves as Lutheran, rather than Catholic, because of their Lutheran heritage and the fact that they accept those clauses of the unaltered Augsburg Confession
Augsburg Confession
The Augsburg Confession, also known as the "Augustana" from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran reformation...

 which agree with their understanding of the Roman Catholic magisterium
Magisterium
In the Catholic Church the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church. This authority is understood to be embodied in the episcopacy, which is the aggregation of the current bishops of the Church in union with the Pope, led by the Bishop of Rome , who has authority over the bishops,...

. Others, such as the Antiochian Catholic Church in America
Antiochian Catholic Church in America
The Antiochian Catholic Church in America is one of the Independent Catholic Churches. The ACCA is distinct from most of these churches in that it largely embraces the theology and much of the practice of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, from which the clergy of the...

, do describe themselves as Catholic, while claiming that their doctrine is based, with variations, on that of a church that has been unrelated to the Roman Catholic Church for centuries.

The Polish National Catholic Church
Polish National Catholic Church
The Polish National Catholic Church is a Christian church founded and based in the United States by Polish-Americans who were Roman Catholic. The PNCC is a breakaway Catholic Church in dialogue with the Catholic Church; it seeks full communion with the Holy See although it differs theologically...

 is occasionally referred to as an Independent Catholic church; however, the PNCC rejects this designation. The PNCC derives its orders from the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht but is no longer in communion with Utrecht or the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. These relationships ended because the PNCC rejects the ordination of both women and sexually active homosexuals. Whilst no longer in communion with any other body, the PNCC remains a relatively substantial denomination, maintaining active dialogue with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. It is also a member of the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

.

A very few Independent groups have grown to a larger size (e.g. the Ecumenical Catholic Communion
Ecumenical Catholic Communion
The Ecumenical Catholic Communion is an Independent Catholic Church. Its members understand themselves as following the Catholic tradition without being in communion with the Bishop of Rome. The ECC is a confederation of independent communities based in the United States...

) but the majority consist of one or two bishops, a few priests and deacons, and a small number of adherents. In numerous cases, bishops have been consecrated without having any priests under their jurisdiction, and some bishops have undergone several consecrations in an attempt to secure a more diverse claim to apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

.

Faith and practice


Virtually all members of the Independent Movement worship according to a set liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

, usually derived from a mainstream historical Christian rite
Rite
A rite is an established, ceremonious, usually religious act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:* rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, baptism, or graduation....

, such as the Syriac, Byzantine, or Roman. Sometimes they use a liturgy that is a combination of two or more of these historical liturgies or one that is unique to the group in question. (It was not uncommon for leaders of the various Churches in early Christianity to write rites such as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, The Milanese Rite and The Byzantine Rite.) By definition, all such groups are episcopal
Episcopal polity
Episcopal polity is a form of church governance that is hierarchical in structure with the chief authority over a local Christian church resting in a bishop...

 in polity, being led by bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s and priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s who are assisted by deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

s. All hold to a sacramental understanding of the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 faith related to that broadly held in common by the Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

, Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, Assyrian
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, and Anglican Churches. Independent Catholicism also affirms the text of the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

, but interpretations vary widely based upon how many councils are recognized by the independent Catholic Church in question.

However, Independent groups disagree on the ordination of women
Ordination of women
Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

, homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

, abortion, contraception, divorce, and other issues that are controversial also in more mainstream sections of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Unlike most of their more conventional counterparts, these groups, usually being quite small, tend to be internally fairly homogeneous on these and other issues; in other words, divisions on these and other questions are between these groups, not so much within them.

These Independent congregations represent a variety of doctrines. Some, such as the Liberal Catholic Church
Liberal Catholic Church
The Liberal Catholic Church is a form of Christianity open to theosophical ideas and even reincarnation. It is not connected to the Roman Catholic Church, which considers it heretical and schismatic...

, the Free Church of Antioch
Free Church of Antioch
The Free Church of Antioch is one of several Malabar Rite Independent Catholic Churches which claims valid lines of Apostolic Succession in the historical episcopate. The Free Church of Antioch received several lines of this succession through its founder, the late Archbishop Warren Prall Watters...

, the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch—Malabar Rite (the "Church of Antioch"), and the recently formed Young Rite are characterised by a theosophical
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

 orientation. Other independent groups are quite conservative, following extremely traditionalist Catholic or Old Calendar Orthodox positions; still others describe themselves as "Evangelical Catholic" and High Church Lutherans.

Many have embraced the model of parish organisation in which a bishop, not a priest, is the pastor
Pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

 of a parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

. This model is traditionally how the Church operated in the first century and enables those who wish to return to the true Orthodoxy of Early Christianity to do so, and the charge that they "become bishops to rationalise the process even when there are no other members of the clergy in the group" is completely baseless. Thus, a higher percentage of Independent clergy who love their Church end up seeking ordination to the episcopacy when they feel called to such a position.

It is rare to find Independent clergy who are supported financially in their work. In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 there are several who make a substantial income by conducting marriages and/or funerals, both high church
High church
The term "High Church" refers to beliefs and practices of ecclesiology, liturgy and theology, generally with an emphasis on formality, and resistance to "modernization." Although used in connection with various Christian traditions, the term has traditionally been principally associated with the...

 and Low Church in character, leading to the charge that these people see ministry as a career rather than as a vocation. However, most Independent clergy pursue their ministry as a part-time, volunteer calling, whilst engaging in some other occupation in order to support themselves and their families.

Ecclesiology


Independent clergy have often received multiple ordinations/consecrations in an attempt to ensure a broad and diverse claim to apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

. Though perhaps less prevalent than in the past, the practice continues; for example, Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan
Peter Paul Brennan
Peter Paul Brennan is the bishop of the Ecumenical Catholic Diocese of the Americas , a bishop of the African Orthodox Church, the Primate of the Order of Corporate Reunion, and the current President of Married Priests Now!...

 of the African Orthodox Church
African Orthodox Church
The African Orthodox Church is a primarily African-American denomination founded in the United States in 1921. It has approximately 15 parishes and 5,000 members, down significantly from the time of its greatest strength....

, one of four who were conditionally ordained to the episcopate by the excommunicated Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo
Emmanuel Milingo
Emmanuel Milingo is a former Roman Catholic archbishop from Zambia. In 1969, aged 39, Milingo was consecrated by Pope Paul VI as Bishop of the Archdiocese of Lusaka....

 on 24 September 2006, claims to have been first consecrated on 10 June 1978, and subsequently conditionally re-consecrated a number of times prior to the ceremony conducted by Archbishop Milingo. Also, in 2007, various Independent Catholic bishops in the UK underwent multiple mutual reconsecrations "as a gesture of unity".

The leadership of Utrecht, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy have mutual recognition of order, but do not recognize orders in the independent churches, and they reject multiple consecrations. [cite needed]

The claims of many within the Independent movement to continuity with holy orders as found in the churches mentioned are based at least in part on an understanding of apostolic succession that has been held by some within the Latin Church since the time of the Donatist
Donatist
Donatism was a Christian sect within the Roman province of Africa that flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries. It had its roots in the social pressures among the long-established Christian community of Roman North Africa , during the persecutions of Christians under Diocletian...

 controversy in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. According to those who hold this view, a person becomes a bishop if consecrated in an approved rite by another (validly ordained) bishop even when he is outside the boundaries of Catholicism. However, today Catholic theologians consider this view to be mechanical and reductionist; thus, they teach that such ceremonies have no effect on the grounds that an ordination is for service within a concrete Christian Church. Therefore an ordination ceremony that concerns only the individual himself does not correspond to the understanding of ordination held by the Catholic Church and is subsequently without efficacy. Naturally, Independent clergy reject this characterisation, seeing their bishops as always ordained for the service of others and for the Christian community, whether in a defined jurisdiction or more broadly. As for the Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht
Union of Utrecht
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain....

, the Coptic Church and the various Orthodox churches, they completely reject the validity of the ordinations of heretics or schismatics, and thus do not recognise the orders of Independent clergy, to whom they apply these categories.

Whilst the leadership of the Catholic Church has more than once declared that certain episcopal consecrations have no canonical effect (for sacraments performed by a Bishop who is not part of a Church or Jurisdiction), it has occasionally stated that it was not thereby expressing a judgement on the validity (which means they were Valid but not Canonical Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church), but merely on their canonical efficacy (see also Valid but illicit
Valid but illicit
Valid but illicit, also known as valid but illegal, as it pertains to Roman Catholicism, refers to the unauthorized but valid celebration of the sacraments, especially regarding the ordinations of clergy. In the Roman Catholic Church several kinds of people have authority to celebrate the sacraments...

). Thus, when it declared devoid of canonical effect (which means that they were not accepted into the Roman Catholic Church as Canonical Bishops, and would have to go through the process for entering into communion with the Patriarch of Rome) the consecration ceremony conducted by Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục for the Carmelite Order of the Holy Face
Palmarian Catholic Church
The Christian Palmarian Church of the Carmelites of the Holy Face , commonly called the Palmarian Catholic Church , is a schismatic Catholic church with its own pope, Gregory XVIII.-Origins:...

 group on 31 December 1975, it refrained from pronouncing on its validity. It made the same statement with regard to later ordinations by those bishops, saying that, "as for those who have already thus unlawfully received ordination or any who may yet accept ordination from these, whatever may be the validity of the orders (quidquid sit de ordinum validitate), the Church does not and will not recognise their ordination (ipsorum ordinationem), and will consider them, for all legal effects, as still in the state in which they were before, except that the ... penalties remain until they repent" (This means that they will be accepted into the Catholic Church as Clergy upon repentance) (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition , and after 1904 called the Supreme...

, Decree Episcopi qui alios of 17 September 1976 - Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1976, page 623). The clause "....as still in the state in which they were before.." would, however, indicate that the Vatican continued to view them as being laymen.

The Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 did not question the validity of the consecrations
Ecône Consecrations
The Écône consecrations were a set of episcopal consecrations that took place in Écône, Switzerland, on 30 June 1988. They were performed by Roman Catholic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Meyer, and the priests raised to the episcopacy were four members of Lefebvre's Society...

 that the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Marcel Lefebvre
Marcel François Marie Joseph Lefebvre was a French Roman Catholic archbishop. Following a career as an Apostolic Delegate for West Africa and Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, he took the lead in opposing the changes within the Church associated with the Second Vatican Council.In 1970,...

 performed in 1988 for the service of the followers of the Traditionalist Roman Catholic Society of St. Pius X
Society of St. Pius X
The Society of Saint Pius X is an international Traditionalist Catholic organisation, founded in 1970 by the French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre...

 that he had founded. Lefebvre was capable of forming the necessary intention whilst questions were raised regarding the mental capacity of Archbishops Ngô and Milingo to perform ordinations according to the understanding of the Catholic Church. Ngô was advanced in age and possibly suffering from dementia and Milingo had undergone a marriage conducted by the Unification Church
Unification Church
The Unification Church is a new religious movement founded by Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon. In 1954, the Unification Church was formally and legally established in Seoul, South Korea, as The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity . In 1994, Moon gave the church...

 which would raise questions about his theology; the Vatican statement concerning Milingo also refers to him as "elderly", with obvious attendant implications.

The official view of the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

es may be summarised as follows: "While accepting the canonical possibility of recognising the existence (υποστατόν) of sacraments performed outside herself, (the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

) questions their validity (έγκυρον)
and certainly rejects their efficacy (ενεργόν)." It sees
"the canonical recognition (αναγνώρισις) of the validity of sacraments performed outside the Orthodox Church (as referring) to the validity of the sacraments only of those who join the Orthodox Church (individually or as a body).". It is therefore clear that the Orthodox Communion does not, and will not, accept as valid any ordination ceremonies of clergy not accepted into their own communion.

The validity of Independent Catholicism is based upon several positions the first is called the Leonine Privilege which was emplaced by Rome. The second is Apostolic Succession. Does the Bishop who is performing the Ordination have Valid Lines, or Valid but Illicit lines. The Third is as follows is the member of the Clergy a part of a Church or Jurisdiction such as the National Catholic Church of North America, or the Servants of the Good Shepherd. If so then he is performing a Valid but Illicit Ordination or Consecration (From the point of View of the Churches the Independent Bishops are not in communion with)under the Canons of the Independent Catholic Church of which he is in Communion with. It has been the policy of Rome to accept priests, and bishops of the Independent Catholic Churches as Priests, and Bishops if they can show proper Apostolic Succession, and can meet the necessary requirements for Ordination educationally. Another way independent clergy enter into communion with the Catholic Church is through the Anglican Ordinariate which ensures that if there are any doubts or irregularities in their Ordination they may be corrected by a Sub-Condition Ordination. The Anglo Lutheran Catholic Church a Church created especially for a group of Christians to enter into Communion with Rome entered into the Roman Catholic Church as Ordained Clergy through the Anglican Ordinariate.

See also

  • American National Catholic Church
  • Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church
    Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church
    The Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church , formerly the Evangelical Community Church-Lutheran , is a church in the Lutheran Evangelical Catholic tradition. The ALCC claims to be unique among Lutheran churches in that it is of both Lutheran and Anglo-Catholic heritage and has also been significantly...

  • Antiochian Catholic Church in America
    Antiochian Catholic Church in America
    The Antiochian Catholic Church in America is one of the Independent Catholic Churches. The ACCA is distinct from most of these churches in that it largely embraces the theology and much of the practice of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, from which the clergy of the...

  • Breakaway Catholic Churches
    Breakaway Catholic Churches
    Catholics not in communion with Rome, or Breakaway Catholics, are those religious groups that, while consciously embracing Catholic tradition, have chosen to separate from the Roman Catholic Church. They differ from Protestantism in that they practice rites, rituals and devotions specific to...

  • Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada
    Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada
    The Catholic Charismatic Rite traces their heritage and apostolic succession through the Old Catholic Church, which cut communion with Rome in 1870 . They are also a part of the Charismatic movement which is open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in one's life. This is not to be confused with...

  • Corpus Christi Communion
  • Ecumenical Catholic Church
    Ecumenical Catholic Church
    The ' is a separate denomination within the universal Christian Church. It teaches the faith of the Nicene Creed, that One God exists in three coequal and coeternal Persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and that Jesus is the Son of God and Redeemer of humanity, uniting Christians through the...

  • Evangelical Catholic Church
    Evangelical Catholic Church
    The Evangelical Catholic Church is an Independent Catholic Church which is theologically Lutheran, embracing the Augsburg Confession . Its membership numbers under 500. It was incorporated in Arizona in 1976. It practices infant communion....

  • Fraternite Notre Dame
    Fraternite Notre Dame
    Fraternite Notre Dame is a Traditional Catholic Order of Bishops, priests, Friars and Nuns. There is also a Third Order attached to them.-Origins:...

  • Free Church of Antioch
    Free Church of Antioch
    The Free Church of Antioch is one of several Malabar Rite Independent Catholic Churches which claims valid lines of Apostolic Succession in the historical episcopate. The Free Church of Antioch received several lines of this succession through its founder, the late Archbishop Warren Prall Watters...

  • Independent Sacramental Movement
    Independent Sacramental Movement
    The Independent Sacramental Movement refers to the extremely loose collection of orders, churches, jurisdictions, and freelance clergy made up of sacramental Christians who are not part of the historic sacramental denominations...

  • Liberal Catholic Church
    Liberal Catholic Church
    The Liberal Catholic Church is a form of Christianity open to theosophical ideas and even reincarnation. It is not connected to the Roman Catholic Church, which considers it heretical and schismatic...

  • Mariavite Church
    Mariavite Church
    The Mariavite Church is an independent Christian church that emerged from the Catholic Church of Poland at the turn of the 20th century. Initially, it was an internal movement leading to a reform of the Polish clergy. After a conflict with Polish bishops, it became a separate and independent...

  • Roman Catholic Church
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

  • Old Catholic Church
    Old Catholic Church
    The term Old Catholic Church is commonly used to describe a number of Ultrajectine Christian churches that originated with groups that split from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, most importantly that of Papal Infallibility...

  • Old Catholic Mariavite Church
  • Order of Corporate Reunion
    Order of Corporate Reunion
    The Order of Corporate Reunion is an ecumenical and interdenominational association of clergy and laity of Anglican origin, founded by Frederick George Lee, Thomas Mossman and Joseph Seccombe in London in 1874....

  • Orthodox-Catholic Church of America
  • Polish National Catholic Church
    Polish National Catholic Church
    The Polish National Catholic Church is a Christian church founded and based in the United States by Polish-Americans who were Roman Catholic. The PNCC is a breakaway Catholic Church in dialogue with the Catholic Church; it seeks full communion with the Holy See although it differs theologically...

  • Old Catholic Church of Colombia
  • Sedevacantist antipope
  • Trinitarian Catholic Church (USA)