Contemporary Statements

DECLARATION ON THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN

 

The College of Bishops of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church has approved and adopted in the name of our Church, the following statement, originally issued by The International Old-Catholic Bishops Conference of the Union of Utrecht.

 

THE NORTH AMERICAN OLD ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH in accordance with the ancient undivided church does not agree with the sacramental ordination of women to the Catholic, Apostolic ministry of Deacon, Priest and Bishop.

 

The Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Ghost called twelve men to be his Apostles, in order to perpetuate his work for the salvation of mankind. The Catholic churches of the East and West have called men only to the sacramental apostolic ministry.

 

The question of the ordination of women touches the basic order and mystery of the Church.

 

The churches which have preserved continuity with the ancient undivided Church and its sacramental ministerial order should jointly discuss this question of sacramental ordination of women, being fully aware of eventual consequences resulting from unilateral decisions.

 

(In addition to this statement, The North American Old Roman Catholic Church is in full agreement with the Roman Catholic and OrthodoxChurches, that the entire and undivided Church Catholic does not possess the power or authority from God to alter or change this Divinely appointed precedent or element to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.)

 

 

THE SANCTITY OF THE COVENANT OF HOLY MATRIMONY

 

The College of Bishops of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church has approved and adopted in the name of our church, the following statement, originally written and issued by the below named signatories. This statement has been adopted by numerous church bodies throughout the years, since it was first written and issued. 

 

As we celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, entering the third millennium, we pledge together to honor the Lord by committing ourselves afresh to God’s first institution—marriage.

 

We believe that marriage is a holy union of one man and one woman in which they commit, with God’s help, to build a loving, life-giving, faithful relationship that will last for a lifetime. God has established the married state, in the order of creation and redemption, for spouses to grow in love of one another and for the procreation, nurture, formation and education of children.

 

We believe that in marriage many principles of the Kingdom of God are manifested. The interdependence of healthy Christian community is clearly exemplified in loving one another (John 13:34), forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32), confessing to one another (James 5:16), and submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21). These principles find unique fulfillment in marriage. Marriage is God’s gift, a living image of the union between Christ and His Church.

 

We believe that when a marriage is true to God’s loving design it brings spiritual, physical, emotional, economic, and social benefits not only to a couple and family but also to the Church and to the wider culture. Couples, churches, and the whole of society have a stake in the well being of marriages. Each, therefore, has its own obligations to prepare, strengthen, support and restore marriages.

 

Our nation is threatened by a high divorce rate, a rise in cohabitation, a rise in non-marital births, a decline in the marriage rate, and a diminishing interest in and readiness for marrying, especially among young people. The documented adverse impact of these trends on children, adults, and society is alarming. Therefore, as church leaders, we recognize an unprecedented need and responsibility to help couples begin, build, and sustain better marriages, and to restore those threatened by divorce.

 

Motivated by our common desire that God’s Kingdom be manifested on earth as it is in heaven, we pledge to deepen our commitment to marriage. With three-quarters of marriages performed by clergy, churches are uniquely positioned not only to call America to a stronger commitment to this holy union but to provide practical ministries and influence for reversing the course of our culture. It is evident in cities across the nation that where churches join in common commitment to restore a priority on marriages, divorces are reduced and communities are positively influenced.

 

Therefore, we call on churches throughout America to do their part to strengthen marriage in our nation by providing:

  • Prayer and spiritual support for stronger marriages.

  • Encouragement for people to marry.

  • Education for young people about the meaning and responsibility of marriage.

  • Preparation for those engaged to be married.

  • Pastoral care, including qualified mentor couples, for couples at all stages of their relationship.

  • Help for couples experiencing marital difficulty and disruption.0

  • Influence within society and the culture to uphold the institution of marriage

 

Further, we urge churches in every community to join in developing policies and programs with concrete goals to reduce the divorce rate and increase the marriage rate.

 

By our commitment to marriage as instituted by God, the nature of His Kingdom will be more clearly revealed in our homes, our churches, and our culture. To that end we pray and labor with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 

May the grace of God, the presence of Christ, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit be abundant to all those who so commit and be a blessing to all whose marriages we seek to strengthen.

 

Written by:

 

Bishop Anthony O’Connell,

Chairman, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Marriage and Family Life

 

Dr. Richard Land,

President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention

 

Dr. Robert Edgar,

General Secretary, National Council of Churches

(Name withdrawn 2000-NOV-17)

 

Bishop Kevin Mannoia,

President, National Association of Evangelicals

 

This Christian Declaration on Marriage was adopted by The College of Bishops of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church on January 1, 2002.

Foundational Documents

THE VINCENTIAN CANON

434

(1) I have continually given the greatest pains and diligence to inquiring, from the greatest possible number of men outstanding in holiness and in doctrine, how I can secure a kind of fixed and, as it were, general and guiding principle for distinguishing the true Catholic Faith from the degraded falsehoods of heresy. And the answer that I receive is always to this effect; that if I wish, or indeed if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord's help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly, that is, by the authority of God's Law, then by the tradition of the Catholic Church.

 

(2) Here, it may be, someone will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and is in itself abundantly sufficient, what need is there to join to it the interpretation of the Church? The answer is that because of the very depth of Scripture all men do not place one identical interpretation upon it. The statements of the same writer are explained by different men in different ways, so much so that it seems almost possible to extract from it as many opinions as there are men. Novatian expounds in one way, Sabellius in another, Donatus in another, Arius, Eunomius and Macedonius in another, Photinus, Apollinaris and Priscillian in another, Jovinian, Pelagius and Caelestius in another, and latterly Nestorius in another. Therefore, because of the intricacies of error, which is so multiform, there is great need for the laying down of a rule for the exposition of Prophets and Apostles in accordance with the standard of the interpretation of the Church Catholic.

 

(3) Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly 'Catholic,' as is shown by the very force and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if we follow universality [i.e. oecumenicity], antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly nearly all, bishops and doctors alike.

 

(4) What then will the Catholic Christian do, if a small part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? The answer is sure. He will prefer the healthiness of the whole body to the morbid and corrupt limb. But what if some novel contagion try to infect the whole Church, and not merely a tiny part of it? Then he will take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty. What if in antiquity itself two or three men, or it may be a city, or even a whole province be detected in error? Then he will take the greatest care to prefer the decrees of the ancient General Councils, if there are such, to the irresponsible ignorance of a few men. But what if some error arises regarding which nothing of this sort is to be found? Then he must do his best to compare the opinions of the Fathers and inquire their meaning, provided always that, though they belonged to diverse times and places, they yet continued in the faith and communion of the one Catholic Church; and let them be teachers approved and outstanding. And whatever he shall find to have been held, approved and taught, not by one or two only but by all equally and with one consent, openly, frequently, and persistently, let him take this as to be held by him without the slightest hesitation.

 

 

DECREES OF THE SYNOD OF UTRECHT 1763

The Archbishop of Utrecht, the Bishop of Haarlem. and the Bishop of Deventer, convened with their clergy in a lawful Provincial Synod (1763) representing the Roman Catholic Church in Holland:

  • Secured the rights of all the clergy in lawful obedience to their lawfully constituted Ordinaries;

  • Formally recited the Nicene Creed;

  • Anathematized all the errors and heresies which the Council of Trent had anathematized;

  • Adopted Bossuet's Exposition of the Faith as the expression of its own faith;

  • Condemned the opinion of LeClerc that the Five Propositions attributed to Jansen contained the Catholic Faith on the question of grace;

  • Condemned as heretical the Five Prepositions of the "so-called Jansenists”;

  • Condemned LeClerc's account of the Schism between Rome and Constantinople;

  • Condemned LeClerc's opinion that the Church is never infallible except when it is assembled in Ecumenical Councils;

  • Condemned the opinion that bishops and priests are equal;

  • Renewed its adhesion to the creed of Pius IV;

  • Condemned various errors in doctrine taught by Hardouin and Berruyer;

  • Condemned errors in moral theology taught by Pichon;

  • Condemned several works on Probabilism;

  • Rejected the power of the Pope to dispense subjects from their civil allegiance, and that in certain cases regicide was permissible;

  • Asserted the Divine right of kings;

  • Passed twenty-four canons on discipline among which the following may be found, (that those who neglected the opportunity of being confirmed risked their salvation).

  • Decreed that there should be no music during the Mass from the Elevation of the Host to the Lord's Prayer;

  • Decreed that marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics, even when performed without the forms required by the Council of Trent, were valid, but, on the part of the Catholic partner, sinful.

 

 

FORMULARY of UTRECHT

1823

The Archbishop of Utrecht, the Bishop of Haarlem and the Bishop of Deventer promulgated a formulary (1823) known as the Formulary of Utrecht:

 

We accept with the greatest willingness, and without any exception whatever, all the articles of the Holy Catholic Faith; we will neither hold nor teach, now or afterwards, any other opinions than those which have been decreed, determined and published by our Mother, the Holy Church, conformably to Holy Scripture, tradition, the acts of the Ecumenical Councils, and those of the Council of Trent.

 

We reject and condemn everything opposed to them, especially all heresies, without any single exception, which the Church has rejected and condemned; we also detest every schism which may separate us from the communion of the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church and of its visible head on earth; in particular we reject and condemn the Five Propositions condemned by the Holy See, which are stated to be found in the book of Jansenius called The Augustinus.

 

We promise as well for the future as for the present, fidelity, obedience and submission, in all things to His Holiness the present Pope Leo XII, and to his successors, according to the canons of the Church; and also to maintain respectfully, to teach and to maintain in accordance with the same canons, the decrees and Constitutions of the Apostolic See.

 

 

DECLARATION of AUTONOMY

1910

We the undersigned Bishop, on behalf of our clergy and laity of the Catholic Church of England, hereby proclaim and declare the autonomy and independence of our portion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are in no way whatever subject to or dependent upon any foreign See, nor do we recognize the right of any members of the religious bodies known as 'Old Catholics' on the Continent, to require submission from us to their authority or jurisdiction, or the decrees, decisions, rules or assemblies, in which we have neither taken part nor expressed agreement.

 

We had supposed and believed that the Faith, once delivered to the Saints, and set forth in the decrees of the Councils accepted as Ecumenical no less in the West than in the East, would have continued unimpaired, whether by augmentation or by diminution, in the venerable Church of the Dutch Nation.

 

We anticipated that the admirable fidelity with which the Bishops and Clergy of that Church had adhered to the Faith and handed it down, untarnished by heresy, notwithstanding grievous persecution during so many centuries, would never have wavered.

 

Unfortunately, however, we discover with dismay, pain, and regret that the standards of orthodoxy, laid down of old by the Fathers and Councils of the East and West alike, having been departed from in various particulars by certain sections of Old Catholicism, these departures, instead of being checked and repressed, are, at least tacitly, tolerated and acquiesced in without protest, by the Hierarchy of the Church of the Netherlands.

 

  1. In order to avoid misapprehension, we here specify nine of the points of difference between Continental Old Catholics and ourselves: Although the Synod of Jerusalem, held under Dositheus in 1672, was not an Ecumenical Council, its decrees are accepted by the Holy Orthodox Church of the Orient as accurately expressing its belief, and are in harmony with the decrees of the Council of Trent on the dogmas of which they treat. We are in agreement with the Holy Orthodox Church, regarding this Synod, Hence, we hold and declare that there are Seven Holy Mysteries or Sacraments instituted by Our Divine Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, therefore all of them necessary for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessarily to be received by every individual, e.g. Holy Orders and Matrimony. Certain sections, if not all, of the Old Catholic bodies, reject this belief and refuse to assent to the decrees of the Holy Synod of Jerusalem.

  2. Moreover, some of them have abolished the Sacrament of Penance by condemning and doing away with auricular confession; others actively discourage this salutary practice; others, again, whilst tolerating its use, declare the Sacrament of Penance to be merely optional, therefore unnecessary, and of no obligation, even for those who have fallen into mortal sin after Baptism.

  3. In accordance with the belief and practice Of the Universal Church, we adhere to the doctrine of the Communion of Saints by invoking and venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary, and those who have received the crown of glory in heaven, as well as the Holy Angels of God. The Old Catholics in the Netherlands have not yet altogether abandoned this pious and helpful custom, but, in some other countries, invocation of the Saints has been totally abolished by the Old Catholics.

  4. Although it may be permissible and , indeed, very desirable, in some countries, and' under certain circumstances, to render the Liturgy into the vernacular languages, we consider it to be neither expedient nor tolerable that individuals should compose new liturgies, according to their own particular views, or make alterations, omissions and changes in venerable rites to suit their peculiar fancies, prejudices or idiosyncrasies. We lament the mutilations of this kind which have occurred among the Old Catholics in several countries and regret that no two of the new liturgies composed and published by them are alike, either in form or in ceremony. In all of them the ancient rubrics have been set aside, and the ceremonies and symbolism with which the Sacred Mysteries of the Altar have been reverently environed for many centuries, have, either wholly or in part, been ruthlessly swept away. The Rite of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament has also been almost universally abolished among the Old Catholics.

  5. In accordance with the primitive teaching of the Church of the Netherlands, which prevailed until a very recent date, we consider it a duty on the part of Western Christians to remember His Holiness the Pope as their Patriarch in their prayers and sacrifices. The name of His Holiness should, therefore, retain its position in the Canon of the Mass, where, as we observed at our consecration in Utrecht, it was customary, and remained so until a recent date in the present year (1910), for the celebrant to recite the name of our Patriarch in the usual manner in the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints. The publication of a new vernacular Dutch Liturgy in the present year causes us to regret that the clergy of Holland are now required to omit the name of His Holiness in the Canon of the Mass. Happily, only a small number of other alterations in the text of the Canon have, so far, been introduced. These include the omission of the title, 'ever Virgin' whenever it occurs in the Latin Missal. Such alterations pave the way for others of an even more serious nature, which may be made in the future, and, as we think, are to be deplored.

  6. Following the example of our Catholic forefathers, we venerate the adorable Sacrifice of the Mass as the supreme act of Christian worship instituted by Christ Himself. We grieve that the Old Catholic clergy, in most countries, have abandoned the daily celebration Of Mass, and now limit the offering the Christian Sacrifice to Sundays and a few of the greater Feasts. The corresponding neglect of the Blessed Sacrament, and infrequency of Holy Communion, on the part of the laity, are marked.

  7. In accordance with Catholic custom and with !he decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, we hold that the honor and glory of God are promoted and increased by the devout and religious use of holy pictures, statues, symbols, relics, and the like, as aids to devotion, and that, in relations to those they represent, they are to be held in veneration. The Old Catholics have, generally speaking, preferred to dispense with such helps to piety.

  8. We consider that the Holy Sacraments should be administered only to those who are members of the Holy Catholic Church, not only by Baptism, but by the profession of the Catholic Faith in its integrity. Unhappily, we find persons who are not Catholics are now admitted to receive Holy Communion in all Old Catholic places of worship on the Continent.

  9. The Old Catholics have ceased to observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence, and no longer observe the custom of receiving Holy Communion fasting.

 

For these and other reasons, which it is unnecessary to detail, we, the undersigned Bishop, desire, by these presents, to declare our autonomy and our independence of all foreign interference in our doctrine, discipline and policy.

 

In necessaries unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.

 

+Arnold Harris Mathew

 

December 29, 1910

The Feast of St. Thomas ofCanterbury

 

 

STATEMENT of BELIEF

1911

 

DOGMATIC ARTICLES

 

1) The Way of Salvation

Eternal Salvation is promised to mankind only through the merits of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and upon condition of obedience to the teaching of the Holy Gospel, which requires Faith, Hope and Charity, and the due observance of the ordinances of the Orthodox and Catholic Religion.

 

2) Faith, Hope and Charity

Faith - is a virtue infused by God, whereby man accepts, and believes without doubting, whatever God has revealed in the Church concerning true Religion.

Hope - is a virtue infused by God, and following upon Faith; by it man puts his entire trust and confidence in the goodness and mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, and look for the fulfillment of the Divine promises made to those who obey the Gospel.

Charity - is a virtue infused by God, and likewise consequent to Faith, whereby man, loving God above all things for His own sake and his neighbor as himself for God's sake, yields up his will to a joyful obedience to the revealed will of God in the Church.

 

3) The Church

God has established the Holy Catholic Church upon earth to be the pillar and the ground of the revealed Truth; and has committed to her the guardianship of the Holy Tradition, and the power of binding and loosing.

 

4) The Creed

The Catholic Church has set forth the principal Doctrines of the Christian Faith in twelve articles as follows:

I - I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things, visible and invisible;

II - And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all Ages, God of God, Light of Light. Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made;

III - Who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven, and was Incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made Man;

IV - And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, He suffered and was buried;

V - And the third day He rose again, according

to the Scriptures:

VI - And ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;

VII - And He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end;

VIII - And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together are worshipped and glorified, Who spoke to the prophets;

IX - And in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church;

X - I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins;

XI - And I look for the Resurrection of the dead; XII - And the Life in the world to come. Amen.

 

5) The Sacraments

The fundamental ordinances of the Gospel instituted by Jesus Christ as special means of conveying Divine grace and influence to the souls of men, which are commonly called Mysteries or Sacraments, are Seven in number, namely: Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders, Matrimony, Penance and Unction.

 

Baptism - is the first Sacrament of the Gospel, administered by immersion in, or affusion with, water with the word, "I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". It admits the recipient into the Church, bestows upon them the forgiveness of sins, original and actual, through the Blood of Christ, and causes in them spiritual change called Regeneration. Without valid Baptism, no other Sacrament can be validly received.

 

Confirmation - or Chrism is a Sacrament in which the baptized person, on being anointed with Chrism consecrated by the Bishops of the Church, with the imposition of hands, receives the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them in the grace which they received at Baptism, making them a stronger a perfect Christian and a good soldier of Christ.

 

The Holy Eucharist - is a Sacrament in which, under the appearances of bread and wine, the real and actual Body and Blood of Christ are given and received for the remission of sins, the increase of Divine grace, and the reward of everlasting Life. After the prayer of Invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Liturgy, the bread and wine are entirely converted into the living Body of Christ by an actual change of being, to which change the philosophical term of Transubstantiation and Transmutation are rightly applied. The celebration of this Mystery or Sacrament, commonly called the Mass, constitutes the chief act of Christian worship, being a sacrificial Memorial or re-Presentation of our Lord's death. It is not a repetition of the Sacrifice offered once for all upon Calvary, but is a perpetuation of that Sacrifice by the Church on earth, as our Lord also perpetually offers it in heaven. It is a true and propitiatory Sacrifice, which is offered alike for the living and for the departed.

 

Holy Orders - is a Sacrament in which the Holy Spirit, through the laying-on of hands of the Bishops, consecrates and ordains the pastors and ministers chosen to serve in the Church, and imparts to them special grace to administer the Sacraments, to forgive sins, and feed the flock of Christ.

 

Matrimony - is a Sacrament in which the voluntary union of husband and wife is sanctified to become an image of the union between Christ and His Church; and grace is imparted to them to fulfill the duties of their estate and its great responsibilities both of each other and to their children.

 

Penance - is a Sacrament in which the Holy Spirit bestows the forgiveness of sins, by the ministry of the priest, upon those who, having sinned after Baptism, confess their sins with true repentance, and grace given to amend their lives thereafter.

 

Unction - is a Sacrament in which the priest of the Church anoint the sick with oil, for the healing of the infirmities of their souls, and if it should please God, those of their bodies also. The efficacy of the Sacraments depends upon the promise and appointment of God; howbeit they benefit only those who receive them worthily with faith, and with due preparation and disposition of mind.

 

6) Holy Scripture

The Scriptures are writings inspired by God, and given to the Church for her instruction and edification. The Church is therefore the custodian and the only Divinely appointed interpreter of holy Scriptures.

 

7) Tradition

The Apostolic and Ecclesiastical Traditions received from the seven General Councils and the early Fathers of the Church may not be rejected; but are to be received and obeyed as being both agreeable to holy Scripture and to that Authority with which Christ endowed His Church. Matters of discipline and ceremony do not rank on the same level with matters of Faith or Morals, but may be altered from time to time and from place to place by the Authority of the Church, according as the welfare and greater devotions of the faithful may be furthered thereby.

 

8) The Communion of Saints

There is a Communion of Saints in the Providence of God, wherein the souls of righteous people of all ages are united with Christ in the bond of faith and love. Wherefore it is pleasing to God, and profitable to all humans, to honor the Saints and to invoke them in prayer; and also to pray for the faithful departed.

 

9) Religious Symbols

The relics and representations of Saints are worthy of honor, as are also all other religious emblems; that our minds may be encouraged to devotion and to imitation of the deeds of the just. Honor shown to such objects is purely relative, and in no way implies a confusion of the symbol with the thing signified.

 

10) Rite and Ceremonies It is the duty of all Christians to join in the worship of the Church, especially in the holy Sacrifice of Mass, in accordance with our Lord's express command; and to conform to the ceremonies prescribed by holy Tradition for the greater dignity of that Sacrifice and for the edification of the faithful.

 

11) The Moral Law

All Christians are bound to observe the Moral Law contained in the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, developed with greater strictness in the New, founded upon the law of nature and charity, and defining our duty to God and to mankind. The laws of the Church are also to be obeyed, as proceeding from that Authority which Christ has committed to her for the instruction and salvation of His people.

 

12) The Monastic Estate

The monastic life, duly regulated according to the laws of the Church, is a salutary institution in strict accord with the holy Scriptures; and is full of profit to them who, after being carefully tried and examined, make full proof of their calling thereto.

 

 

ORGANIC ARTICLES

 

1) Head of the Church

The Foundation Head and Supreme Pastor and Bishop of the Church is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, from Whom all Bishops and Pastors derive their spiritual powers and jurisdiction.

 

2) Obedience

By the law and institution of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel, all Christians owe obedience and submission in spiritual things to them who have rule and authority within the Church.

 

3) Ministerial Authority

Our Lord Jesus Christ did not commit rule and authority within the Church to all the faithful indiscriminately, but only to the Apostles and to their lawful successors in due order.

 

4) Apostolic Succession

The only lawful successors of the Apostles are the Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, united by profession of the self-same Belief, participation in the same Sacraments, and by mutual recognition and Intercommunion. The Bishops of the Church, being true successors of the Apostles, are by Divine right and appointment the rulers of the Church.

 

In virtue of this appointment each individual Bishop is supreme and independent in that part of the Church which has been committed to his care, so long as he remains in Faith and Communion with the united company of Catholic Bishops, who cannot exclude any from the Church save only them who stray from the path of virtue or err in Faith.

 

By virtue of the same Divine appointment, the supreme Authority over the whole Church on earth belonging to the collective Orthodox and Catholic Episcopate. They alone from the highest tribunal in spiritual matters, from whose united judgment there can be no appeal; so that it is unlawful for any single Bishop, or any smaller group of Bishops apart from them, or for any secular power or state to usurp this authority, or for any individual Christian to substitute his own private judgment for that interpretation of Scripture or Authority which is approved by the Church.

 

5) Church Authority

The collective body of the Orthodox Catholic Episcopate, united by profession of the Faith, by the Sacraments, and by mutual recognition and Inter-communion, is the source and depository of all order, authority and jurisdiction in the Church, and is the centre of visible Catholic Unity; so that no Pope, Patriarch or Bishops, or any number of Bishops separated from this united body can possess any authority or jurisdiction whatsoever.

 

It is an act of schism to appeal from the known judgment of the Orthodox and Catholic Episcopate, however it may have been ascertained; or to appeal from any dogmatic decree of any General Council even though such appeal be to a future Council. For the Episcopate, being a continuation of the Apostolate, is clearly a Divine institution, and its authority is founded in Divine right. But General Councils are not of themselves of direct Divine appointment; and so Episcopate having clearly the Scriptural promise of Divine guidance into all Truth, cannot be hampered in the exercise of its authority by the necessity of assembling a General Council, which may obviously be rendered impossible through natural circumstances.

 

There have been seven General Councils only, which are recognized by the Whole of Catholic Christendom, held respectively in Nicaea (325 A.D.), Constantinople (381 A.D.), Ephesus (431 A.D.), Chalcedon (451 A.D.), Constantinople (553 A.D.), Constantinople (680 A.D.), and Nicaea (787 A.D.). At no other Councils was the entire body of the Orthodox and Catholic Episcopate representatively assembled; and the decrees and pronouncements of no others must of themselves be accepted as binding upon the conscience of the faithful.

 

The Authority of the Church can never be in abeyance, even though a General Council cannot be assembled. It is equally to be submitted to and obeyed in whatever way it may be exercised, and although it may be exercised only through the ordinary administration of their respective jurisdictions by individual Bishops.

 

6) Hierarchy

All Patriarchs, Archbishops, and all Metropolitans (that is to say, all Bishops who exercise any authority over other Bishops) owe that authority solely to the appointment or general consent of the Orthodox and Catholic Episcopate; nor can they ever cease from owing obedience to the collective body of the Episcopate in matters concerning Faith and Morals.

 

7) The Five Patriarchs

There are five Patriarchates, which ought to be united and form the supreme authority in the administration and government of the Holy Catholic Church. These are Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome,Alexandria and Constantinople. Unfortunately, owing to disputes and differences on the one hand, and to the lust for power and supremacy and domination on the other; the Patriarchs are not at present in Communion; and the welfare of Christendom is jeopardized by their disedifying quarrels, which, we pray, may soon have an end.

 

 

 

STATEMENT of PRINCIPLES

1921

We adhere strictly to the Holy Catholic Faith, once and for all delivered to the Saints and set forth in Apostolic Tradition, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, the def­initions of the Ecumenical Councils and the teachings of the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers.

 

We acknowledge the decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672 prescribing belief as de fide, in the seven Sacraments instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in transubstantiation.

 

We practice the Veneration and Invocation of the Immaculate and Glorious Mother of God, of the angels and the Saints and prayers for the faithful departed.

 

The North American Old Roman Catholic Church is identical with the Roman Catholic Church in worship, faith, morals, etc., but differs from it in discipline as follows:

  1. It acknowledges the primacy of the successor of St Peter, but is thoroughly American and loyal to Ameri­can ideals and institutions.

  2. It has the Mass and other services in Latin, liturgical oriental, and in the language of the land where insti­tuted, that is English in America.

  3. It advocates celibacy of the clergy, but does not expressly forbid the clergy to marry.

  4. It ministers to anyone who requests its services, and any baptized Christian who lives according to its laws and regulations is welcomed to the movement.

Doctrine

 
doctrine [dock-trin] Noun
 
1. a body of teachings of a religious, political, or philosophical group
2. a principle or body of principles that is taught or advocated [Latin doctrina teaching]
 
Every Church has a series of beliefs which defines the basic tenets of its Faith. These beliefs are referred to as the Church's body of doctrine. There are also many supplemental regulations which govern the Church's conduct and members' behavior as it is related to living out the principles of its doctrinal belief. These supplemental rules and regulations are usually referred to as the Church's discipline. And finally, every Church has a manner in which, according to its doctrinal and disciplinary procedures, conducts it public services of worship of Almighty God. This is naturally referred to by the word worship. Thus it is common to hear Churchmen refer to their "Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship" as being distinctive of their particular ecclesiastical group. In more modern parlance, we often encounter this same concept of "docrine, discipline and worship" masquerading under the terms of "creed, code, and cult". Unfortunately the latter term has so many negative connotations that it is actually best to avoid such terminology.
 
In our "beliefs" section you will find several pages devoted to these three divisions, so as to explain to our readers, the exact doctrinal and disciplinary beliefs and practices which are essentially characteristic of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church. It will also describe the Liturgical Worship of our Church.
 
On this page of the dropdown box, marked DOCTRINE, which you have just opened, you will find three columns. In each of those columns you will find a number of documents which have been provided so that you can read and see in a very brief and concise manner, the beliefs or "Doctrines" of our Church.
 
In the first column you will find the four Creeds of the Church: The Apostle's Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Athanasian Creed, and The Creed of Pope St Pius IV. These Creeds are binding statements of Faith for The North American Old Roman Catholic Church.
 
In the second column you will find six Foundational Documents. These documents establish the firm foundation in the Catholic Faith and the Doctrinal positions of the Church together with its Statement of Principles. The first document is the famous Vincentian Canon which seeks to clarify for the Christian how to determine true Catholic Faith from heretical teachings. The next two documents: The Decrees of the 1763 Synod of Utrecht, and The Formulary of Utrecht 1823, are statements of the Church of Utrecht, which again clearly identifies us as true Roman Catholics. The fourth document: The Declaration of Autonomy 1910,  was issued by Archbishop Mathew in England when it became clear that the ancient Church of Utrecht had succumbed to the pressures to forsake her position as an Old Roman Catholic Church and to adopt the positions of the continental Old Catholics and their drastic reform of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Faith. As a result of the publication of the aforementioned document of Autonomy, the next or fifth document, The Statement of Belief 1911, was compiled by Archbishop Mathew to clearly set forth in an official and concise manner the theological, doctrinal, and disciplinary positions of the Old Roman Catholic Church in England, and now by extension for us in The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, as we are the American expression of that same jurisdiction and are the canonical successors of Archbishop Mathew here in America, via Archbishp de Landas Berghes. The final document is, The Statement of Principles 1921, which was written and issued by our second Primate here in America, the late Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora.
 
In the third column you will find two contemporary statements: The Declaration on the Ordination of Women and The Sanctity of the Covenent of Holy Matrimony,  which have been adopted by the College of Bishops of our Church that clearly outline our positions on issues which presently face the entire Christian Church and in particular our own Church. Below these two statements you will find several documents of related interest. The first four documents are not binding statements for The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, but rather for the Utrecht Union Old Catholics. They are provided to show the development of the Old Catholic position and the gradual departure from traditional Old Roman Catholic theology and ecclesiology. The first is the Declaration of the Catholic Congress of Munich, the second is the Fourteen Theses of the Old Catholic Congress of Bonn, the third is the Declaration on the Filioque of the Old Catholic Congress of Bonn, and the fourth is the Declaration of Utrecht. Following these four documents are two additional documents of interest to us. The first is an article from The Guardian, a London newspaper, which carefully reprinted the letter from Bishop van Thiel of Haarlem (The Old Catholic Church of Utrecht) and the support of the Old Catholic Bishops for Archbishop Mathew, shortly before the drastic departure of the Dutch Church from her historic Old Roman Catholic position. The second document is the Official Act of Union which brought the Old Roman Catholic Church under Archbishop A H Mathew of Great Britain into union with the ancient Orthodox Patriarchal See of Antioch via the Prince Archbishop Gerassimos Messara of Beyrout (Beirut), thus providing the Old Roman Catholic Church with a link to one of the five ancient Patriarchates of the undivided Church, and a canonical recognition of its ministry and autocephaly as an integral part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
On subsequent pages you will find:
  • four Declarations and Oaths used in The North American Old Roman Catholic Church. The first is The Oath Against Modernism, which all traditional Old Roman Catholics adhere to; the next is The Oath of Fidelity that all of our Bishops take when they are consecrated or enthroned; the third is The Declaration of Intention that each priest takes upon his Ordination and or Incardination into our jurisdiction; the last is The Declaration of Intention taken by the Bride and Groom before they are to be married, declaring their belief in the sacredness of the Sacrament they are to receive and the bond which they are to contract.
  • one additional document. The second is a contemporary document which is a foundational document of unity for the "continuing" Anglican Church bodies which have come into existance since 1974. While it is in no way a binding or even an accepted document of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, in almost all of its points, not specifically directed towards the Anglican churches and their worship, it closely adheres to and enunciates the positions of our own North American Old Roman Catholic Church. It demonstrates that while we are two different jurisdictions from two different traditions, we share many things in common. It is our hope that you will find these pages and these documents helpful and educational as regard the theology, history and discipline of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church. 
The Great Creeds

THE APOSTLES CREED

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

 

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost; born of the Virgin Mary. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

 

I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body, And the life everlasting.

Amen.

 

 

THE NICENE CREED

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible.

 

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Born of His Father before all ages, God of God, Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made, Being of one Substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was Incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made Man. He was also crucified for us; suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end.

 

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life. Who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, Who spoke by the Prophets.

 

And One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

 

I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. And I await the resurrection of the dead And the life of the world to come. 

Amen.

 

 

THE ATHANASIAN CREED

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith; Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

 

And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

 

So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord; And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.

 

For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

 

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

 

He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At Whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies; And shall give account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

 

This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

Amen.

 

 

THE CREED OF POPE PIUS IV

I, N,_____ with a firm faith believe and profess each and everything which is contained in the Creed which the Holy Roman Church maketh use of. To wit:

 

I believe in one God, The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

 

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.

 

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father (and the Son). Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets.

 

And One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

 

I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

I also admit the Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, to whom it belongeth to judge of the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

 

I also profess that there are truly and properly Seven Sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all for every one; to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders cannot be reiterated without sacrilege.

 

I also receive and admit the received and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

 

I embrace and receive all and every one of the things which have been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

 

I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

 

I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.

 

Likewise, that the saints, reigning together with Christ, are to be honored and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.

 

I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the Mother of God, ever virgin, and also of other Saints, ought to be had and retained, and that due honor and veneration is to be given them.

 

I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.

 

I acknowledge the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church as the mother and mistress of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

 

I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent. I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the Church hath condemned, rejected, and anathematized.

 

This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, which I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, inviolate and with firm constancy until the last breath of life, I do so profess and swear to maintain with the help of God. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and professed by all those over whom I have charge.

 

I, N._____ do so pledge, promise, and swear, so help me God and these Holy Gospels. Amen.

Archbishop

Arnold Harris Mathew

Related Documents

 

CATHOLIC CONGRESS OF MUNICH - 1871

 

1. Conscious of our religious duties, we hold fast to the Old Catholic creed and worship, as attested in scripture, and in tradition. We regard ourselves, therefore, as actual members of the Catholic Church, and will not be deprived of communion with the Church, nor of the rights, which through this communion, accrue to us in Church and State.

 

We declare the ecclesiastical penalties decreed against us, on account of our fidelity to our creed,to be unjustifiable and tyrannical; and we will not allow ourselves to be daunted or hindered by these censures in availing ourselves of our communion with the Church according to our conscience.

 

From the point of view of the confession of faith contained in the so-called Tridentine Creed, we repudiate the dogmas introduced under the pontificate of Pius IX in contradiction to the doctrine of the Church, and to the principles continuously followed since the Council of Jerusalem, especially the dogmas of the Pope's infallible teaching, and of his supreme episcopal and immediate jurisdiction.

 

2. We rely on the old constitution of the Church. We protest against every attempt to oust the bishops from the immediate and independent control of the separate Churches. We repudiate, as in conflict with the Tridentine Canon, according to which there exists a God-appointed hierarchy of bishops, priests, and deacons, the doctrine embodied in the Vatican doctrine, that the Pope is the sole God-appointed depositary of all ecclesiastical authority and power. We recognise the primacy of the Bishop of Rome as it was acknowledged, on authority of Scripture, by Fathers and Councils in the old undivided Christian Church.

 

(a.) We declare that articles of belief cannot be defined merely by the utterance of the Pope for the time being, and the express or tacit assent of the bishops, bound as they are by oath to unqualified obedience to the Pope; but only in accordance with Holy Scripture and the old tradition of the Church, as it is set forth in the recognised Fathers and Councils. Moreover a council which was not, as the Vatican Council was, deficient in the actual external conditions of oecuminicity, but which, in the general sentiment of its members, exhibited a disregard of the fundamental principles and of the past history of the Church, could not issue decrees binding upon the consciences of the members of the Church.

 

(b.) We lay stress upon this principle that the conformity of the doctrinal decisions of a council, with the primitive and traditional creed of the Church, must be determined by the consciousness of belief of the Catholic people and by theological science. We maintain for the Catholic laity and the clergy, as well as for theological sciences, the right of testifying and of objecting on the occasion of establishing articles of belief.

 

3. We aim at a reform in the Church in cooperation with the sciences of theology and canon law, which shall, in the spirit of the ancient Church, remove the present defects and abuses, and in particular shall fulfil the legitimate decrees of the Catholic people for a constitutionally regulated participation in Church business, whereby, without risk to doctrinal unity or doctrine, national considerations and needs may be taken account of.

 

We declare that the charge of Jansenism against the Church of Utrecht is unfounded, and that consequently no opposition in dogma exists between it and us. We hope for a re-union with the Greco-oriental and Russian Church, the separation of which had no sufficient origin, and depends upon no insuperable difference in dogma. Whilst pursuing the desired reforms in the path of science and a progressive Christian culture, we hope gradually to bring about a good understanding with the Protestant and Episcopal churches.

 

4. We hold scientific study indispensable for the training of the clergy. We consider that the artificial seclusion of the clergy from the intellectual culture of the present century (as in the seminaries and higher schools under the sole conduct of the bishops) is dangerous, from the great influence which the clergy possess over the culture of the people, and that it is altogether unsuited to give the clergy such an education and training as shall combine piety and morality, intellectual culture and patriotic feeling. We claim for the lower order of clergy a suitable position of consideration, protected against all hierarchical tyranny. We protest against the arbitrary removal of secular priests, amovibilitas ad nutum, a practice introduced through the French Code, and latterly imposed everywhere.

 

5. We support the constitutions of our countries, which secure us civil freedom and culture. Therefore we repudiate on national and historical grounds the dangerous dogma of Papal supremacy; and promise to stand faithfully and resolutely by our respective Governments in the struggle against that ultramontanism which assumes the form of dogma in the Syllabus.

 

6. Since manifestly the present miserable confusion in the Church has been occasioned by the society called that of Jesus; since this order abuses its influence to spread and cherish among the hierarchy, clergy, and people, tendencies hostile to culture, dangerous to the State and to the nation; since it teaches and encourages a false and corrupting morality: we declare it as our conviction that peace and prosperity, unity in the Church, and just relations between her and civil society, will only be possible when the pernicious activity of this order is put an end to.

 

7. As members of the Catholic Church, to which - not yet altered by the Vatican decrees - Government had guaranteed political recognition and public protection, we maintain our claims to all the real property and legal rights of the Church.

 

FOURTEEN THESES OF BONN - 1874

 

I.      We agree that the apocryphal or deutero-canonical books of the Old Testament are not of the same canonicity as the books contained in the Hebrew Canon.

II.     We agree that no translation of Holy Scripture can claim an authority superior to that of the original text.

III.    We agree that the reading of Holy Scripture in the vulgar tongue cannot be lawfully forbidden.

IV.     We agree that, in general, it is more fitting, and in accordance with the spirit of the Church, that the Liturgy should be in the tongue understood by the people.

V.      We agree that Faith working by Love, not Faith without Love, is the means and condition of Man's justification before God.

VI.     Salvation cannot be merited by "merit of condignity," because there is no proportion between the infinite worth of salvation promised by God and the finite worth of man's works.

VII.    We agree that the doctrine of "opera supererogationis" and of a "thesaurus meritorium sanctorum," i.e., that the overflowing merits of the Saints can be transferred to others, either by the rulers of the Church, or by the authors of the good works themselves, is untenable.

VIII.   1) We acknowledge that the number of sacraments was fixed at seven, first in the twelfth century, and then was received into the general teaching of the Church, not as a tradition coming down from the Apostles or from the earliest of times, but as the result of theological speculation.

            2) Catholic theologians acknowledge, and we acknowledge with them, that Baptism and the Eucharist are "principalia, praecipus, eximia salutis nostrae sacramenta."  


IX.      1) The Holy Scriptures being recognized as the primary rule of Faith, we agree that the genuine tradition, i.e. the unbroken transmission partly oral, partly in writing of the doctrine delivered by Christ and the Apostles is an authoritative source of teaching for all successive generations of Christians. This tradition is partly to be found in the consensus of the great ecclesiastical bodies standing in historical continuity with the primitive Church, partly to be gathered by scientific method from the written documents of all centuries.

          2) We acknowledge that the Church of England; and the Churches derived through her, have maintained unbroken the Episcopal succession.  


X.      We reject the new Roman doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as being contrary to the tradition of the first thirteen centuries, according to which Christ alone is conceived without sin.  

XI.     We agree that the practice of confession of sins before the congregation or a Priest, together with the exercise of the power of the keys, has come down to us from the primitive Church, and that, purged from abuses and free from constraint, it should be preserved in the Church.  

XII.    We agree that "indulgences" can only refer to penalties actually imposed by the Church herself.  

XIII.   We acknowledge that the practice of the commemoration of the faithful departed, i.e. the calling down of a richer outpouring of Christ's grace upon them, has come down to us from the primitive Church, and is to be preserved in the Church.  

XIV.   1) The Eucharistic celebration in the Church is not a continuous repetition or renewal of the propitiatory sacrifice offered once forever by Christ upon the cross; but its sacrificial character consists in this, that it is the permanent memorial of it, and a representation and presentation on earth of that one oblation of Christ for the salvation of redeemed mankind, which according to the Epistle to the Hebrews (9:11,12), is continuously presented in heaven by Christ, who now appears in the presence of God for us (9:24).  

          2) While this is the character of the Eucharist in reference to the sacrifice of Christ, it is also a sacred feast, wherein the faithful, receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord, have communion one with another.
(I Cor. 10:17)

FILIOQUE DECLARATION OF BONN - 1875

 

1.    We agree in accepting the ecumenical symbols and the decisions in matters of faith of the ancient undivided Church.

 

2.    We agree in acknowledging that the addition Filloque to the symbol did not take place in an ecclesiastically regular manner.

 

3. We give our unanimous assent to the presentation of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as taught by the Fathers of the undivided Church.

 

(1) We accept the teachings of St. John of Damascus concerning the Holy Spirit, as it is expressed in the following paragraphs, in the sense of the doctrine of the ancient undivided Church.

 (a) The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the beginning, the cause, the fountain of the Godhead.

(b) The Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Son, because in the Godhead there is only one beginning one cause, by which all that is in the Godhead is produced.

(c) The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.

(d) The Holy Spirit is the image of the Son (as the Son is the image of the Father), proceeding from the Father, and resting in the Son as the power shining forth from him.

(e) The Holy Spirit is the personal production out of the Father, belonging to the Son, but not out of the mouth of the Godhead which pronounces the Word.

(f) The Holy Spirit forms the mediation between the Father and the Son, and is, through the Son, united with the Father.

 

4.   We reject every representation and every form of expression in which is contained the acceptance of two principles, or beginnings, or causes, in the Trinity.

 

DECLARATION OF UTRECHT - 1889

 

1. We adhere faithfully to the Rule of Faith laid down by St. Vincent of Lerins in these terms: “Id teneamus, quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est; hoc est etenim vere proprieque catholicum.” For this reason we preserve in professing the faith of the primitive Church, as formulated in the oecumenical symbols and specified precisely by the unanimously accepted decisions of the Oecumenical Councils held in the undivided Church of the first thousand years.

 

2. We therefore reject the decrees of the so-called Council of the Vatican, which were promulgated July 18th, 1870, concerning the infallibility and the universal Episcopate of the Bishop of Rome, decrees which are in contradiction with the faith of the ancient Church, and which destroy its ancient canonical constitution by attributing to the Pope the plentitude of ecclesiastical powers over all Dioceses and over all the faithful. By denial of this primatial jurisdiction we do not wish to deny the historical primacy which several Oecumenical ouncils and Fathers of the ancient Church have attributed to the Bishop of Rome by recognizing him as the Primus inter pares.

 

3. We also reject the dogma of the Immaculate Conception promulgated by Pius IX in 1854 in defiance of the Holy Scriptures and in contradiction to the tradition of the centuries.

 

4. As for other Encyclicals published by the Bishops of Rome in recent times for example, the Bulls Unigenitus and Auctorem Fidei, and the Syllabus of 1864, we reject them on all such points as are in contradiction with the doctrine of the primitive Church, and we do not recognize them as binding on the consciences of the faithful. We also renew the ancient protests of the Catholic Church of Holland against the errors of the Roman Curia, and against its attacks upon the rights of national Churches.

 

5. We refuse to accept the decrees of the Council of Trent in matters of discipline, and as for the dogmatic decisions of that Council we accept them only so far as they are in harmony with the teaching of the primitive Church.

 

6. Considering that the Holy Eucharist has always been the true central point of Catholic worship, we consider it our right to declare that we maintain with perfect fidelity the ancient Catholic doctrine concerning the Sacrament of the Altar, by believing that we receive the Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ under the species of bread and wine. The Eucharistic celebration in the Church is neither a continual repetition nor a renewal of the expiatory sacrifice which Jesus offered once for all upon the Cross: but it is a sacrifice because it is the perpetual commemoration of the sacrifice offered upon the Cross, and it is the act by which we represent upon earth and appropriate to ourselves the one offering which Jesus Christ makes in Heaven, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews 9:11-12, for the salvation of redeemed humanity, by appearing for us in the presence of God (Heb. 9:24). The character of the Holy Eucharist being thus understood, it is, at the same time, a sacrificial feast, by means of which the faithful in receiving the Body and Blood of our Savior, enter into communion with one another (I Cor. 10:17).

 

7. We hope that Catholic theologians, in maintaining the faith of the undivided Church, will succeed in establishing an agreement upon questions which have been controverted ever since the divisions which arose between the Churches. We exhort the priests under our jurisdiction to teach, both by preaching and by the instruction of the young, especially the essential Christian truths professed by all the Christian confessions, to avoid, in discussing controverted doctrines, any violation of truth or charity, and in word and deed to set an example to the members.

 

8. By maintaining and professing faithfully the doctrine of Jesus Christ, by refusing to admit those errors which by the fault of men have crept into the Catholic Church, by laying aside the abuses in ecclesiastical matters, together with the worldly tendencies of the hierarchy, we believe that we shall be able to combat efficaciously the great evils of our day, which are unbelief and indifference in matters of religion.

AN OLD CATHOLIC BISHOP FOR ENGLAND - JUNE 8, 1908

 

Reprinted from the English newspaper "The Guardian" of June 8, 1908

__________________________________________


Sir:

 

We, the Archbishop and Bishops of the Old Catholic Church of Holland, and the Old Catholic Bishops of Germany and Switzerland, having heard with much concern of certain events connected with our English branch of the Old Catholic Church, wish to say that we have been in correspondence with a suspended Roman Catholic priest in England since 1902.

 

This priest visited the Bishops of Bonn, Berne, Haarlem , Deventer, and the Archbishop of Utrecht, and we believed him to be in perfect accord with us. He accompanied Bishop Mathew on his visit to the Archbishop of Utrecht. On April 7th of the present year he, with others, signed the petition to the Bishops begging us to consecrate the Most Reverend A.H. Mathew.

 

All of the documents were sent by this priest to Bishop Herzog, accompanied by numerous letters urging upon us the immediate need of a Bishop, not only for his own congregation, but for those of other clergy and congregations specified by him. We had no reason to suppose that we were mistaken in complying with his request. We wish now to state that our confidence in Bishop Mathew remains unshaken, after carefully perusing a large number of the documents bearing upon this matter, and we earnestly hope that his ministrations will be abundantly blessed by Almighty God, and that he will receive the cordial support of the British people and Church in the trying circumstances in which he has been placed.

 

In the name of the Old Catholic Bishops of Holland, Germany, Switzerland,

 

 The Secretary,

 

+J.J. Van Thiel, Bishop of Harlem

ACT OF UNION WITH THE PATRIARCHATE  OF ANTIOCH - 1911

 

Monseigneur,

 

Colleague and Brother in Jesus Christ, with open arms in the love of the Savior, I receive you among us, and I accept your oath of fidelity to His Beatitude, the Orthodox Patriarch and his holy Synod of Antioch, since those who hold our faith and wish to be united with us have never been prevented from joining us.

 

Praying God to bless you, and not only you but all those who come to us with you, we bless in the name of His Beatitude the Patriarch and the Holy Synod of Antioch.

 

Your Colleague and Brother in Jesus Christ,

 

GERASSIMOS MESSARA,

Prince Archbishop and Metropolitan

Orthodox Church of Beyrout

5th August, 1911

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