Old Catholic Church

Old Catholic Church

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The term Old Catholic Church is commonly used to describe a number of Ultrajectine
Ultrajectine
Ultrajectine defines the tradition of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands headquartered at the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. It is used to describe the anti-Papal-Primacy and Jansenist tendency of that independent church and its sister churches, which were founded in later centuries ....

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 churches that originated with groups that split from 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...

 over certain doctrines, most importantly that 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...

. These churches are not in communion
Communion (Christian)
The term communion is derived from Latin communio . The corresponding term in Greek is κοινωνία, which is often translated as "fellowship". In Christianity, the basic meaning of the term communion is an especially close relationship of Christians, as individuals or as a Church, with God and with...

 with 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...

 of Rome, but their Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches is in full communion with the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 and 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...

. The formation of the Old Catholic communion of Germans, Austrians and Swiss began in 1870 at a public meeting held in Nuremberg under the leadership of A. Döllinger. Four years later episcopal succession was established with the ordination of an Old Catholic German bishop by a prelate of the Church of Utrecht. In line with the "Declaration of Utrecht" of 1889, they accept the first seven ecumenical councils and doctrine formulated before 1054, but reject communion with the pope and a number of other Roman Catholic doctrines and practices. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church notes that since 1925 they have recognized Anglican ordinations, that they have full communion with the Church of England since 1932 and have taken part in the ordination of Anglican bishops.

The term "Old Catholic" was first used in 1853 to describe the members of the See of Utrecht who did not recognise any claimed "infallible" papal authority. Later Catholics who disagreed with the doctrine of Papal Infallibility as made official by the First Vatican Council (1870) had no bishop and so joined with Utrecht to form the Union of Utrecht.

Beliefs


Old Catholic theology views the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 as at the core of the Church. From that point the Church is a community of believers. All are in communion with one another around the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as the highest expression of the love of God. Therefore, the celebration of the Eucharist is the experience of the Lord's triumph over sin. The defeat of sin consists in bringing together that which is divided.

Through communion, differences between people are reconciled and that which was scattered is brought together. In Old Catholic theology, “Church” means reconciliation. “Church” means the restoration of broken relations between God and men and men with each other.

The Old Catholic Church believes in unity in diversity. As a result, more diversity of belief and practice is to be found among its churches than is characteristic of the Roman Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox churches. Old Catholics often refer to the Church Father St. Vincent of Lerins
Vincent of Lérins
Saint Vincent of Lérins was a Gallic author of early Christian writings.In earlier life he had been engaged in secular pursuits, whether civil or military is not clear, though the term he uses, "secularis militia," might possibly imply the latter...

 and his saying: "We must hold fast to that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all the Faithful."

Independent bishopric


Four disputes set the stage for an independent Bishopric of Utrecht: the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

, the First Lateran Council and Fourth Lateran Council, and the concession of Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

. In the 12th century, there occurred the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

 where the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 and the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 fought over who could appoint Bishops. In 1122, the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

was signed, making peace. The Emperor renounced the right to invest ecclesiastics with ring and crosier, the symbols of their spiritual power, and guaranteed election by the canons of cathedral or abbey and free consecration. The Emperor Henry V
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry V was King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor , the fourth and last ruler of the Salian dynasty. Henry's reign coincided with the final phase of the great Investiture Controversy, which had pitted pope against emperor...

 and Pope Calixtus II ended the feud by granting one another peace.The Concordat was confirmed by the First Council of the Lateran
First Council of the Lateran
The Council of 1123 is reckoned in the series of Ecumenical councils by the Catholic Church. It was convoked by Pope Calixtus II in December, 1122, immediately after the Concordat of Worms...

in 1123.

The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 re-enforced the right of all Cathedral Chapters to elect their bishops. Philip of Burgundy
Philip of Burgundy (bishop)
Philip of Burgundy was Admiral of the Netherlands from 1498 to 1517 and bishop of Utrecht from 1517 to 1524....

, 57th Bishop of Utrecht (1517–1524), through a family connection with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, secured a significant concession from Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

, granting internal autonomy in both church and temporal affairs for himself and his successors without interference from outside their jurisdictional region. This greatly promoted the independence of the See of Utrecht, so that no clergy or laity from Utrecht would ever be tried by a Roman tribunal.

Three periods of development


Old Catholicism's formal separation from Roman Catholicism occurred over the issue of Papal authority. This separation from Rome occurred in The Netherlands in 1724, creating the first Old Catholic Church. The churches of Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Switzerland created the Union of Utrecht after Vatican I (1871) over the Dogma of Papal Infallibility. By the early 1900s, the movement included England, Canada, Croatia, France, Denmark, Italy, America, the Philippines, China, and Hungary. The American affiliate of the Union of Utrecht until recently was 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...

 which ceased to belong to the Union in opposition to the ordination of women by other member churches.

Post Reformation Netherlands: first period


During the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 the Catholic Church was persecuted and the Dutch dioceses north of the Rhine and Waal were suspended by 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...

. Protestants occupied most church buildings, and those remaining were confiscated by the government of the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 of Seven Provinces, which favoured Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

.

In 1580, the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 occurred in The Netherlands and the institutionalized Catholic Church was persecuted. The Dutch Reformed Church
Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church was a Reformed Christian denomination in the Netherlands. It existed from the 1570s to 2004, the year it merged with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to form the Protestant Church in the...

 confiscated Church property, forced Religious Sisters and Brothers out of convents and monasteries, and made it illegal to receive the Sacraments of the Church. However, the Church did not die, rather priests and communities went underground. Groups would meet for the sacraments in the attics of private homes at the risk of arrest. Priests identified themselves by wearing all black clothing with very simple collars. At the same time as there were local underground priests and bishops, the Pope considered the Catholic Church in The Netherlands to be mission territory and no longer the traditional Bishopric of Utrecht. 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...

 suspended the Dutch dioceses north of the Rhine and Waal.

As part of the Counter Reformation, there were attempts to "re-Romanize" the Dutch Church. The Dutch resisted strongly. Contrary to prior guarantees, Papal forces intervened on the side of the Counter-reformists (Jesuits). The Pope sent Roman priests to reestablish the Church in The Netherlands. The Catholics persecution in the 17th century, was exacerbated by theological disputes which divided the Church. One of the contentious issues was, whether the Catholic Church in the Netherlands after the Reformation was a continuous church or a mission of Rome and governed by the Pope. If The Netherlands were no longer a continuous Church, the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

 and the concession of Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

 were no longer applicable. The popes took advantage of the failure of Utrecht, and the person named as apostolic vicar was called by Rome the Archbishop of Utrecht in partibus infidelium (i.e., archbishop in the land of unbelievers). As countries and dioceses collapsed across Europe since the 4th century, Rome had bailed out the communities but as a result, the Churches became subject to Roman jurisdiction. Many clergy and lay people of Utrecht did not want to become one more formerly autonomous jurisdiction now under Roman control, however, many did.

In 1691, the Jesuits accused Petrus Codde
Petrus Codde
Petrus Codde was apostolic vicar of the Holland Mission from 1688 to 1702 and Archbishop of Utrecht from 1695 to 1705/1710 .-Life:...

, the then apostolic vicar, of favouring the Jansenist heresy
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...

. Pope Innocent XII
Pope Innocent XII
Pope Innocent XII , born Antonio Pignatelli, was Pope from 1691 to 1700.-Biography:He was born in Spinazzola to one of the most aristocratic families of the Kingdom of Naples, which included many Viceroys, and ministers to the crown, and was educated at the Jesuit college in Rome.In his twentieth...

 appointed a commission of cardinals
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 to investigate the accusations - apparently violating the exemption granted in 1520. The commission concluded that the accusations were groundless.

In 1700 a new pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, Clement XI, summoned Codde
Petrus Codde
Petrus Codde was apostolic vicar of the Holland Mission from 1688 to 1702 and Archbishop of Utrecht from 1695 to 1705/1710 .-Life:...

 to Rome in order to participate in the Jubilee Year, whereupon a second commission was appointed to try Codde. The result of this second proceeding was again acquittal. However, in 1701 Clement XI decided to suspend Codde and appoint a successor. The Church in Utrecht refused to accept the replacement and Codde continued in office until 1703, when he resigned.

After Codde's resignation, the Diocese of Utrecht elected Cornelius van Steenoven as bishop. After consultation with both canon lawyers and theologians in France and Germany, Dominique Marie Varlet (1678–1742), a Roman Catholic Bishop of the French Oratorian Society of Foreign Missions, ordained Bishop Steenoven. What had been de jure autonomous became de facto an independent Catholic Church. Van Steenoven appointed and ordained bishops to the sees of Deventer
Deventer
Deventer is a municipality and city in the Salland region of the Dutch province of Overijssel. Deventer is largely situated on the east bank of the river IJssel, but also has a small part of its territory on the west bank. In 2005 the municipality of Bathmen Deventer is a municipality and city in...

, Haarlem
Haarlem
Haarlem is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland, the northern half of Holland, which at one time was the most powerful of the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic...

 and Groningen. Although the pope was duly notified of all proceedings, 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...

 still regarded these dioceses as vacant due to papal permission not being sought. The pope, therefore, continued to appoint apostolic vicars for the Netherlands. Van Steenoven and the other bishops were excommunicated and thus began the Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

Most Dutch Catholics remained in full communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

 with the pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 and with the apostolic vicars appointed by him. However, due to prevailing anti-papal feeling among the powerful Dutch Calvinists, the Church of Utrecht was tolerated and even praised by the government of the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

.

In 1853 Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 received guarantees of religious freedom from the Dutch King Willem II
William II of the Netherlands
William II was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg from 7 October 1840 until his death in 1849.- Early life and education :...

 and established a Catholic hierarchy, loyal to the pope, in the 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...

. This existed alongside that of the Old Catholic See of Utrecht. Thereafter in the Netherlands the Utrecht hierarchy was referred to as the 'Old Catholic Church' to distinguish it from those in union with the pope. In the mind of the Holy See, the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht had maintained 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...

 and its clergy thus celebrated valid sacraments in every respect. The Diocese of Utrecht was considered schismatic but not in heresy.

Impact of the First Vatican Council: second period


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...

 (1869–1870), several 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
Swiss (people)
The Swiss are citizens or natives of Switzerland. The demonym derives from the toponym of Schwyz and has been in widespread use to refer to the Old Swiss Confederacy since the 16th century....

 Catholics rejected the solemn declaration concerning papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals and left to form their own churches. These were supported by the Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht, who ordained priests and bishops for them. Later the Dutch were united more formally with many of these groups 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...

".

In the spring of 1871 a convention in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 attracted several hundred participants, including Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 and Protestant observers. The most notable leader of the movement, though maintaining a certain distance from the Old Catholic Church as an institution, was the renowned church historian and priest Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger
Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger
Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger was a German theologian, Catholic priest and church historian who rejected the dogma of papal infallibility...

 (1799–1890), who had been excommunicated by the pope because of his support for the affair.

The convention decided to form the "Old Catholic Church" in order to distinguish its members from what they saw as the novel teaching of papal infallibility in the Catholic Church. Although it had continued to use the Roman Rite
Roman Rite
The Roman Rite is the liturgical rite used in the Diocese of Rome in the Catholic Church. It is by far the most widespread of the Latin liturgical rites used within the Western or Latin autonomous particular Church, the particular Church that itself is also called the Latin Rite, and that is one of...

, from the middle of the 18th century, the Dutch Old Catholic See of Utrecht had increasingly used the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 instead of Latin. The churches which broke from the Holy See in 1870 and subsequently entered into union with the Old Catholic See of Utrecht gradually introduced the vernacular into the 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...

 until it completely replaced Latin in 1877. In 1874 Old Catholics removed the requirement of clerical celibacy
Clerical celibacy
Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which some or all members of the clergy in certain religions are required to be unmarried. Since these religions consider deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior outside of marriage to be sinful, clerical celibacy also requires abstension from these...

.

The Old Catholic Church in Germany received some support from the new German Empire of Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

, whose policy was increasingly hostile towards the Catholic Church in the 1870s and 1880s. In 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...

 territories, pan-Germanic nationalist groups, like those of Georg Ritter von Schönerer
Georg Ritter von Schönerer
Georg Ritter von Schönerer was an Austrian politician active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a major exponent of German nationalism in Austria....

, promoted the conversion to Old Catholicism or Lutheranism of those Catholics loyal to the Holy See.

United States: third period


In 1908 the Archbishop of Utrecht Gerardus Gul
Gerardus Gul
Gerardus Gul was a bishop of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands. He was consecrated Archbishop of Utrecht 11 May 1892. Many Old Catholics and Independent Catholics trace the lineage of their orders through him....

, consecrated Father Arnold Harris Mathew, a former Catholic priest, as Regionary Bishop for England. His mission was to establish a community for Anglicans and Roman Catholics. In 1913, Bishop Mathew claimed to have secured permission from the Continental Old Catholic bishops for his consecration of Rudolph Edward de Landen Berghes
Rudolph de Landas Berghes
Rudolph Francis Edward St. Patrick Alphonsus Ghislain de Gramont Hamilton de Lorraine-Brabant, Prince de Landas Berghes et de Rache, Duc de St. Winock , was an Austrian noble and Old Catholic bishop who resided in the United States.Prince Rudolph de Landas Berghes was born in Naples, Italy on...

 as a bishop to work among the Scots.

Bishop de Berghes was frequently called "the Prince". He was of noble birth but had never claimed the title for himself. The title of "Prince" was rightfully that of his older brother who had died. When Bishop de Berghes became eligible to inherit he was in a religious community and could not accept the title. At the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Bishop de Berghes went to the United States at the suggestion of the Anglican Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

. Bishop Mathew later declared his autonomy from the Union of Utrecht, finding it too "protestant oriented".

Mathew sent missionaries to the United States, including the theosophist Bishop J. I. Wedgwood (1892–1950) and Bishop Rudolph de Landas Berghes et de Rache
Rudolph de Landas Berghes
Rudolph Francis Edward St. Patrick Alphonsus Ghislain de Gramont Hamilton de Lorraine-Brabant, Prince de Landas Berghes et de Rache, Duc de St. Winock , was an Austrian noble and Old Catholic bishop who resided in the United States.Prince Rudolph de Landas Berghes was born in Naples, Italy on...

 (1873–1920). De Berghes arrived in the United States on 7 November 1914, hoping to unite the various independent Old Catholic jurisdictions under Archbishop Mathew. Bishop de Berghes, in spite of his isolation, was able to plant the seed of Old Catholicism in the Americas. He consecrated a former Capuchin Franciscan priest as bishop: Carmel Henry Carfora
Carmel Henry Carfora
Carmel Henry Carfora , raised Roman Catholic in his native Naples, Italy, was a co-founder and leader of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church...

. From this the Old Catholic Church in the United States evolved into local and regional self-governing dioceses and provinces along the design of St. Ignatius of Antioch - a network of Communities.

In the area of Green Bay, Wisconsin
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, located at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Fox River. It has an elevation of above sea level and is located north of Milwaukee. As of the 2010 United States Census,...

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

 began working with Catholics of Belgian ancestry and with the knowledge and blessing of the Union of Utrecht and under the full jurisdiction of the local Episcopal Bishop of Fond du Lac, WI—See C.B. Moss "The Old Catholic Movement" p. 291, middle paragraph]. Vilatte was ordained a deacon on 6 June 1885 and priest on 7 June 1885 by the Most Rev. Eduard Herzog
Eduard Herzog
Eduard Herzog was a Swiss Catholic theologian and cleric who was a native of Schongau, Canton Lucerne. He was the first Christian Catholic bishop of Switzerland....

, bishop of the Old Catholic Church of Switzerland. Vilatte's work provided the only sacramental presence in that particular part of rural Wisconsin [under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Bishop of Fond du Lac, WI].

In time, Vilatte asked the Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht to be ordained a bishop so that he might confirm, but his petition was not granted because Utrecht recognized that a local Catholic Church already existed (i.e. the Episcopal Church). Vilatte sought opportunities for consecration in the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches. He was made a bishop in India on the 28 May 1892 under the jurisdiction of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Patriarch of Antioch
Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the Bishop of Antioch. As the traditional "overseer" of the first gentile Christian community, the position has been of prime importance in the church from its earliest period...

. Over the years, literally hundreds of people in the United States have come to claim apostolic succession from Vilatte; none is in communion with, nor recognised by, the Old Catholic See of Utrecht.

Polish National Catholic Church


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...

 (PNCC) is no longer in communion with any other body; it is the largest of the Old Catholic communities in the United States. The Polish National Catholic Church began in the late 19th century over concerns about the ownership of church property and the domination of the U.S. church by Irish bishops. The church traces its apostolic succession directly to the Utrecht Union and thus possesses orders and sacraments which are recognised by the Holy See. In 2003 the church was voted out of the Utrecht Union due to Utrecht's acceptance of the ordination of women and open attitude towards homosexuality, both of which the Polish Church rejects.

Conference of North American Old Catholic Bishops


With the PNCC no longer a member of the Union of Utrecht, the Union's International Bishops Conference (IBC) asked the Episcopal Church - its ecumenical partner in the United States - to initiate discussions among various groups identifying as Old Catholics. The purpose was to find out how they identify as Old Catholics, their understanding of Old Catholic ecclesiology, and whether they ordain women.

The Episcopal Church, after having gathered this information, reported to the IBC the summary of the various experiences of those Old Catholic churches that responded. The report was given at the annual meeting of the IBC in August 2005. The IBC then asked the Episcopal Church to host a consultation of these American bishops. That consultation took place in May 2006, in Queens Village, New York. In attendance were observers from the Union of Utrecht.

One result of this consultation was the formation of the Conference of North American Old Catholic Bishops, a group dedicated to the formation of organic, tangible unity among American Old Catholics. The Episcopal bishop of West Virginia, liaison to the International Bishops Conference, who also attended the consultation, without an open dialogue with the Conference members or other viable Old Catholic jurisdictions, declared that there was not enough interest to form an American Old Catholic Church which could be a member of the Union of Utrecht. Many jurisdictions within the United States would like the Union to reconsider their decision but there is also a feeling that, given the different charism
Charism
In Christian theology, a charism in general denotes any good gift that flows from God's love to man. The word can also mean any of the spiritual graces and qualifications granted to every Christian to perform his or her task in the Church...

s, union might not be feasible.

Ecumenism


Immediately after forming the Union of Utrecht, the Old Catholic theologians dedicated themselves to a reunion of the Christian churches. The Conferences of Reunion in Bonn in 1874 and 1875 convoked by Johann von Döllinger
Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger
Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger was a German theologian, Catholic priest and church historian who rejected the dogma of papal infallibility...

, the leading personality of Old Catholicism, are famous. Representatives of the Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Churches were invited. The aim was to discuss the denominational differences as the ground for restoring the church communion. The basic assumptions for participation were the following principles:
The acceptance of the Christological dogmata of Nicea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 and Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

; Christ's foundation of the Church; the Holy Bible, the doctrine of the undivided Church and the Church fathers of the first ten centuries as the genuine sources of belief; and as criterion the famous sentence of St. Vincentius of Lerins
Vincent of Lérins
Saint Vincent of Lérins was a Gallic author of early Christian writings.In earlier life he had been engaged in secular pursuits, whether civil or military is not clear, though the term he uses, "secularis militia," might possibly imply the latter...

: "id teneamus, quod ubique, semper et ab omnibus creditum est" (The true faith is what everywhere, always and by everybody has been believed) as a preferred method for historical research.

Reunion of the Churches had to be based on a re-actualization of the decisions of faith made by the undivided Church. In that way the original unity of the Church could be made visible again. Following these principles, later bishops and theologians of the Old Catholic Churches stayed in contact with (Russian) Orthodox and Anglican representatives.

Old Catholic involvement in the multilateral ecumenical movement formally began with the participation of two bishops, from the Netherlands and Switzerland, at the Lausanne Faith and Order (F&O) conference (1927). This side of ecumenism has always remained a major interest for Old Catholics who have never missed an F&O conference. Old Catholics also participate in other activities of the WCC and of national councils of churches. By its active participation in the ecumenical movement since its very beginning then, the OCC demonstrates its belief in the necessity of the continuation of this work.

Apostolic succession


Old Catholicism values apostolic succession by which they mean both the uninterrupted laying on of hands by bishops through time and the continuation of the whole life of the church community by word and sacrament over the years and ages. Old Catholics consider apostolic succession to be the handing on of belief in which the whole Church is involved. In this process the ministry has a special responsibility and task, caring for the continuation in time of the mission of Jesus Christ and his Apostles.

Liturgy


The Old Catholic Church shares most of the same liturgy with the Catholic Church, Orthodox Christianity
Orthodox Christianity
The term Orthodox Christianity may refer to:* the Eastern Orthodox Church and its various geographical subdivisions...

, and 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...

 Protestants.

Christ-Catholic Swiss bishop Urs Küry dismissed Roman Catholic transubstantiation
Transubstantiation
In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

 as well as consubstantiation
Consubstantiation
Consubstantiation is a theological doctrine that attempts to describe the nature of the Christian Eucharist in concrete metaphysical terms. It holds that during the sacrament, the fundamental "substance" of the body and blood of Christ are present alongside the substance of the bread and wine,...

 because those concepts tried to explain the divine mystery of communion with concepts based on substance
Substance
Substance may refer to:*Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition*Drug substance*Matter, the substance of which all physical objects are made*Substance theory, theory positing that a substance is distinct from its properties....

. The Old Catholic Christian has to accept an unexplainable mystery as such, and should not try to speculate on the ways of God.

Because of this approach, Old Catholics hold an open view to most issues, including the role of women in the Church, the role of married people within ordained ministry, the morality of same sex relationships, the use of one's conscience when deciding to use artificial contraception, and liturgical reforms such as open communion
Open communion
Open communion is the practice of Christian churches that allow individuals other than members of that church to receive Holy Communion...

 (because no human can presume to exclude any Christian from communion). Its liturgy has not significantly departed from the Tridentine Mass
Tridentine Mass
The Tridentine Mass is the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962. It was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in December 1969...

, as is shown in the English translation of the German Altarbook (missal
Missal
A missal is a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary for the celebration of Mass throughout the year.-History:Before the compilation of such books, several books were used when celebrating Mass...

).

In 1994 the German bishops decided to ordain women as priests and put this into practice on 27 May 1996; similar decisions and practices followed in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The Utrecht Union allows those who are divorced to have a new religious marriage, and it has no particular teaching on abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, leaving such decisions to the married couple.

An active contributor to The Declaration of the Catholic Congress, Munich, 1871 and all later assemblies for organization was Johann Friedrich von Schulte
Johann Friedrich von Schulte
Johann Friedrich von Schulte was a German legal historian and professor of canon law who was born in Winterberg, Westphalia. He was a leading authority on Catholic canon law....

, the professor of dogma at Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

. Von Schulte summed up the results of the congress as follows:
  • adherence to the ancient Catholic faith;
  • maintenance of the rights of Catholics as such;
  • rejection of the new dogmas,
  • adherence to the constitutions of the ancient Church with repudiation of every dogma of faith not in harmony with the actual consciousness of the Church;
  • reform of the Church with constitutional participation of the laity;
  • preparation of the way for reunion of the Christian confessions;
  • reform of the training and position of the clergy;
  • adherence to the State against the attacks of Ultramontanism
    Ultramontanism
    Ultramontanism is a religious philosophy within the Roman Catholic community that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the Pope...

    ;
  • rejection of the Society of Jesus
    Society of Jesus
    The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

    ;
  • solemn assertion of the claims of Catholics as such to the real property of the Church and to the title to it.

Roman Catholic views


The Roman Catholic Church teaches, "The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches" in the 2000 declaration, Dominus Iesus
Dominus Iesus
Dominus Iesus is a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was approved in a Plenary meeting of the Congregation, and bears the signature of its then Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and of its then Secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, now...

, of the 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...

. This speaks primarily to the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, but also to "separated churches in the West", which is understood to be a reference to the Old Catholic Communion.

Since the Old Catholic Church is not in full communion with the see of Rome
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...

 a situation of schism exists between them. A schismatic church may be recognized as having valid sacraments and clergy. The Old Catholic Church has engaged in an official dialogue with the Vatican to resolve differences and promote cooperation between the two communions.

Churches

  • List of Old Catholic Churches
  • Old Catholic Church in Europe
    Old Catholic Church in Europe
    The Old Catholic Church in Europe or OCCE is a traditionalist Church in the Old Roman Catholic tradition, based in the United Kingdom. The denomination is also known as the "Old Roman Catholic Church in Europe"....

  • Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands
    Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands
    The Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands; , is the mother church related to the Old Catholic Churches. It is sometimes called Ancient Catholic Church, Church of Utrecht or Dutch Roman Catholic Church of the Old Episcopal Order...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Old Catholic Church in the Philippines
    Philippine Independent Church
    The Philippine Independent Church, The Philippine Independent Church, The Philippine Independent Church, (officially the or the IFI, also known as the Philippine Independent Catholic Church or in Ilocano: Siwawayawaya nga Simbaan ti Filipinas (in in Kinaray-a/Hiligaynon: Simbahan Hilway nga...

  • Apostolic Catholic Church in the Philippines
    Apostolic Catholic Church
    The Apostolic Catholic Church is a self-governing church that claims to trace its faith and worship from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that Jesus Christ and his Apostles established. The church believes the Trinitarian Doctrine that states that the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit...



Movements

  • Liberal Catholic Movement
    Liberal Catholic Movement
    The Liberal Catholic Movement refers to those Churches whose foundation traces back to the founding bishops of the Liberal Catholic Church. It is different from the Roman Catholic Church...

  • Independent Catholic Churches
    Independent Catholic Churches
    Independent Catholic churches are Catholic congregations that are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church or any other churches whose sacraments are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church...

  • King's Family of Churches
    King's Family of Churches
    The King's Family of Churches is an apostolic family of churches with its origins in the Evangelical missions in Spain, particularly in Friends of God mission society, that came to embrace the Convergence Movement of Christianity...

  • The Liberal Catholic Church
  • 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...

  • Willibrord Society
    Willibrord Society
    The Willibrord Society is an umbrella term for a group of national societies with the aim of promoting awareness and cooperation between Anglicans and Old Catholics. There are currently active Willibrord Societies in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, the...

  • German Catholics
    German Catholics
    The German Catholics were a schismatic sect formed in December 1844 by German dissidents from the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of Johannes Ronge.-History:...


Union of Utrecht


Union of Utrecht dependent churches


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