THE FOURTEEN THESES OF THE
OLD CATHOLIC UNION CONFERENCE AT BONN - SEPTEMBER 14-16,1874
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.
We agree that no translation of Holy Scripture can claim an
authority superior to that of the original text.
We agree that the reading of Holy Scripture in the vulgar tongue
cannot be lawfully forbidden.
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.
We agree that Faith working by Love, not Faith without Love, is
the means and condition of Man's justification before God.
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.
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.
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."
(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
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.
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.
We agree that "indulgences" can only refer to penalties actually
imposed by the Church herself.
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.
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
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).