About Our Church History
A Brief History of the Old Catholic Church
Below, you will find the links that tell you a little about us, our Church history, and our Catholic Faith.
We work for God and the work we do is in God's name. Let us now take the time here and give all Glory and Honor to God, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Mother Mary, and His Catholic Church, and tell you a little about us.
If you have not visited our Catechism page and Our Canon Law page, please do so. The Catechism
page outlines our basic doctrine (Our Confession of Faith) and its tenets, and the Canons lists the Canon Laws of our Church. We will be updating our Catechism and Canon Laws in the near future to bring it in line with the Roman Catholic Church in many respects, while we still maintain our Independent Catholic Jurisdiction.
(CREDITS: We give credit to the Old Catholic Church of America, The Roman Catholic Church, The Orthodox (Eastern) Church, and the Wikipedia Internet Encyclopedia for providing the historical background information of the history and roots of our Church and overall historical summary of the Catholic Church as a whole.
A Brief History of the Old Catholic Church...
Who are the Old Catholics? They are a federation of several
independent national Churches which are definitely Catholic in faith
and worship, and are also non-Papal. Amongst them the Archbishop of
Utrecht holds a Primacy of honor not dissimilar from that accorded in
the Anglican Communion to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Wherever they are found they are the Church of a minority of the
people, but smallness of numbers does not mean that they are an
unimportant Church. On the contrary, they occupy a very definite place
in Catholic Christendom and they are in communion with almost all the
Churches of the Anglican Communion.
Old Catholicism results from the fusion of two separate and distinct
movements away from the Church of Rome. The first of these was caused
by Jesuit intrigue which in the eighteenth century drove the See of
Utrecht into separation from the Roman Obedience. This Mother- diocese
of the Netherlands had been founded by St. Willibrord, a missionary
from Northumbria, in A.D. 696.
The schism in the Church of the Netherlands arose, when the Pope
deposed Archbishop Petrus Codde and appointed a new bishop, which was
contrary to church law. Part of the Church remained loyal to the
Chapter of the Archbishop (the Old Catholics) and the others took the
side of Rome (the Roman Catholics).
The Church of Utrecht was not prepared to bow before the Jesuit-Papal
striving after power. It maintained its rights and elected Cornelis
Steenoven Archbishop of Utrecht (1723). He was consecrated by the
Roman Catholic Bishop Dominicus Maria Varlet. In separation from Rome
(and with the revived Sees of Haarlem and Deventer) Utrecht retained a
valid Apostolic Succession in its ministry and continued to be
Catholic in faith and worship.
For Utrecht the Scriptures and Tradition were and are the sources of
the Catholic faith, in such a manner that Tradition can never add
anything to, or take away from, the Scriptures. For Rome Tradition
came to stand above the Scriptures and was finally embodied in the
The Vatican Council of 187O killed any hope of reconciliation with
Rome. The same Vatican Council produced another separation from Rome,
a secession of some magnitude, which occurred in Central Europe where
its leader was the celebrated Dr Ignatius von Dollinger, a Theological
Professor of the University of Munich.
His followers came to be called Old Catholics because they rejected
the new doctrines of the Papal Church and appealed to the standard of
faith and worship in the Undivided Christian Church. Excommunicated by
Rome, they sought and obtained recognition by the See of Utrecht, and
in consequence enjoy Orders which even the Roman Church admits as
The Old Catholic Churches have revised doctrine, worship and
discipline and there are differences between the different Churches in
these matters, but all are united on the basis of the Declaration of
Utrecht, as agreed in 1889. A translation of that Declaration will be
From 187O onwards the Old Catholic Churches have been in close touch
with the Anglican Churches. The Old Catholics responded to the Lambeth
Appeal of 192O with regard to Christian Unity. In 1925, the Old
Catholics declared their unqualified acceptance of Anglican Orders and
Sacraments. At Bonn, in 1931, terms of intercommunion were agreed
upon, and have since been ratified on both sides.
Members of either Communion may, therefore, obtain hospitality in
matters spiritual in the Churches of the other. Since the Union
conferences held in Bonn in 1874 and 1875 under the leadership of Von
Dollinger, excellent relations have been maintained with the Eastern
Orthodox Churches. These bonds were strengthened by the presence of
official Eastern Orthodox delegates at several international Old
Finally it may be noted that from the very beginning the Old Catholic
Churches have taken a great interest in the work of the ecumenical
movement. This is the logical consequence of their conviction that
they are the continuation of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic
Church and that, with a view to the Roman Catholic aberrations on the
one hand and those of the Protestants on the other hand, it is their
duty to bear witness to the faith of the one and undivided Church.
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