The Old Catholic Church sprung from persecuted Catholics under the protestant governments in Holland in the 16th century. Even before this time, there had been, as usual, some confusion over who could elect the bishop of the Cathedral of Utrecht and who was in charge of internal affairs.
When in 1688 Pope Clement XI appointed the apostolic vicar, there was a division between those supporting communion with the pope and those for independence. Two thirds of the priests and people were for union with Rome. One third kept with the independent diocese of Utrecht.
When King Willem II gave religious freedom to Catholics in Holland in 1853, Pope Pius IX officially established a hierarchy loyal to him. The Old Catholic Church continued along side the Catholic Church. At that time they were only schismatics, not heretics.
Vatican Council I, (1869-70), declared papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals. This dogma says that when the pope sits in the seat of St. Peter, (Ex-Cathedra) and pronounces a dogma pertaining to matters of faith and morals, he is preserved from the possibility of error. This is possible because the pope is exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority. When a pope thus declares a dogma, it is obligatory for all Catholics to believe in this dogma in matters of faith or morals.
- Pope Pius IX in 1854; the Immaculate Conception of Mary, (Mary was conceived in her mother, St. Ann’s womb, without the effects of Original Sin, (like Adam and Eve before their rebellion). God did this miracle so that the Mother of God/Jesus would not be under the power of the devil while carrying Him in her womb for 9 months. Mary is the new Eve, the first of the new creation brought about by Jesus’ death on the cross. Since God is outside of time, Mary received these special graces beforehand.
- Pope Pius XII in 1950; stating that Mary was assumed into Heaven body and soul, after her death or dormition. No where, in any of the Church history or Church Father’s writings, is there any evidence about the body of Mary. There are no relics of her body either, like there are of other saints.
- These dogmas had already been believed in by the majority of the Catholics from the beginning and all over the world. These true Catholic beliefs are found or inferred to in the Bible, the Father’s writings and in many other sources.
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These two popes did not come up with something new on their own.
The Old Catholic Church, united with other catholics from Austria, Germany and Switzerland to reject the teaching of Papal infallibility. This group of churches was called the Utrecht Union of Churches. These ‘catholics’ also worked together with the Church of England.
They actually tried to reunite all the split christian groups by having a conference where they invited the Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans. They worked for Ecumenism in the Nation Council of Churches.
At this ecumenical conference they worked for unity by these beliefs;
- The teaching from the councils of Nicea and Chalcedon.
- Christ was the founder of the Church.
- The Bible.
- The writings of the Church Fathers for the first ten centuries.
- And on St. Vincentius of Lerins saying; ‘Let us hold fast that which everywhere; always; and by everybody, has been believed.’
- There was an increase in the use of the vernacular, (rather than Latin).
- And the requirement of clerical celibacy was removed in 1874.
A former Catholic priest, Mathew, was ordained Archbishop of Utrecht. Because this Union had become too protestant, Mathew left the Union of Utrecht. In 1910, in England, he re-organized the group and called it the Old Roman Catholic Church.
During World War I, Bishop Berghes brought this church to the United States. He ordained to bishop an ex-Capuchin Franciscan priest, Carfora, in 1925. (Fr. Carfaro had left his order because his superiors were to restrictive of his work with the poor.) On December 8th, Resch was ordained Archbishop for the now called Old Catholic Church of America.
The Old Catholic Church, under the Utrecht Union of Churches now;
- Do not believe in the two dogmatic declarations of the popes on the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption of Mary.
- Believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, but do not emphasize transubstantiation. (Transubstantiation means that the words of the priest; ‘This is My Body, This is My Blood’, change the bread and wine into the real Body and Blood of Jesus, even though they still appear to be bread and wine).
- Do not say the Filioque, (the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son), in the Nicene Creed.
- Reject the dogma of Purgatory, but do believe in a purification of the dead and prayers offered for the dead.
- Ordain women to the priesthood.
- Bless same sex unions in Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
- Leave birth control and abortion up to the individual.
- Can divorce and remarry.
We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and to be in union with the pope and Rome. Many christians groups have began with great intentions of reforming the Church, but when they break with Rome, before they know it, they are no longer Catholic. For the sake of unity with heretics, they actually compromise with the world and adopt sinful values.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.