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Picture of Sweet KissingPicture of Christ the LightgiverAll Saints Old Catholic Church

An Old Catholic Church  located in Clarksville, Tennessee.  Married Clergy allowed. 

Ordination information, Old Catholic Church History, and more.

Old Catholic Diocese of the Holy Spirit of the Old Catholic Communion in North America

AKA as the Old Catholic Church of America Inc.*

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

As you can imagine as an Old Catholic Bishop I am asked many questions about both Old Catholic beliefs. Below you will find a few of the most frequently asked questions and the answers that I provide. If you have a question that is not covered here please do not hesitate to send me an Email.

God Bless,

Rt. Rev Michael Nesmith - Bishop

 

Are you Catholic? When people speak of Catholics today, they often mean Roman Catholics.  However the term catholic was first used in the letter of Saint Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans (about AD 110) in reference to the “universal” church. The following is a definition for the word “catholic”: Catholic Abbr. C.. a. Of or involving the Roman Catholic Church. b. Of or relating to the universal Christian church. c. Of or relating to the ancient undivided Christian church. d. Of or relating to those churches that have claimed to be representatives of the ancient undivided church. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition [1]  

There are in fact many Communions (Churches) that are in fact part of the Catholic Church as they can trace their beliefs, teachings, and origins to the ancient undivided Apostolic Church. One of the primary attributes of a Catholic Church is that each maintains a line of Apostolic Succession in their clergy thus making them part of the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” as proclaimed in the Nicene Creed.  

Some of these Communions are the Orthodox (Greek, Serbian, Russian, Coptic, and many more), Anglican (Episcopal), and Old Catholic.  

What is “Old Catholic ”?  

The Old Catholic Church traces it roots to the 7th century

It was during this time when the church was one and undivided. that the Anglo-Saxon monk Willibrord ( see insert) missionized the area of Europe now known as the Netherlands and France. 

The name "Old Catholic" began to come into use in 1741 when the Church in Utrecht turned from Roma and began to refer to call themselves as Roman Catholics of the “Old Episcopal Clergy” (Old Catholics). It wasn't until late 19th century in Europe when over the refusal to accept Papal Infallibility that the Churches in Europe formally adopted the name "Old Catholic". Please see our History page for more information.

It is this earlier “undivided” Christianity that was taught to the people in this part of the world and it is that “undivided” Church that Old Catholics seek to restore.

Are Old Catholics part of (in communion with) the Roman Catholic Church? No. The Old Catholic Churches separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the late 19th century over the refusal to accept the dogma of Papal Infallibility. [2]  

Old Catholic - does that mean your Mass is in Latin? No. The name Old Catholic was chosen to signify the desire of the Church to return to the traditions and teachings of the undivided Church prior to the great schism of 1054. Our services are conducted in the language of the people. In addition each parish is allowed to use a rite that suites the local congregation. For example some parishes may use the current Roman Rite, others the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, others the Old Catholic Rites of the European Churches, etc.

Since you are not under the authority of the Pope then who is the head of the Church? We believe as proclaimed by the Early Church Fathers that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and the Holy Spirit is the Vicar of Christ . However All Saints, like other catholic parishes and clergy , are under the guidance and authority of a Bishop with valid lines of Apostolic Succession, which can be traced to the ancient and undivided church. All clergy  are ordained by the “laying on of hands”.  

I noticed that you are married. How can this be? Celibacy was not required in the Roman Communion until the 13th century and even today celibacy is not required in other Catholic Communions such as the Anglican and Orthodox. In addition there are communions such as the Byzantine who are in communion with Rome that allow married clergy.

Do you have the same Sacraments as the Roman Catholic Church?  Yes. We professes and provide seven sacraments. They are:

  • Baptism: The means of spiritual rebirth through which we are made children of God and heirs of Heaven: ``Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born  again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'' (John 3:5. Also see Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:2-6).

  • Confirmation: Confers the Holy Spirit to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ: ``Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost.... Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.'' (Acts 8:14-17. Also see Acts 19:6).

  •  Eucharist: Also known as Holy Communion, which nourishes the soul with the true Flesh and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, under the appearance, or sacramental veil, of bread and wine: ``And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it. And he said to them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many.'' (Mark 14:22-24. Also see Matt. 26:26-28, Luke 22:19-20, John 6:52-54, 1 Cor. 10:16).

  • Reconciliation: Also known as Confession, through which Christ forgives sin and restores the soul to grace: ``Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. '' (John 20:22-23. Also see Matt. 18:18).

  •  Anointing:  Sometimes called Unction, which strengthens the sick and sanctifies the dying: ``Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord . . . and if he be in, sins, they shall be forgiven him.'' (James 5:14-15. Also see Mark 6:12-1

  • Holy Orders: Empowers priests to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, administer the sacraments, and officiate over all the other proper affairs of the Church: ``For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that pertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins.... Neither doth any man take the honor to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was.'' (Heb. 5:1-4. Also see Acts 20:28, 1 Tim. 4:14). Also: ``And taking bread, he gave thanks, and broke; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.'' (Luke 22:19).

  • Marriage: Unites a man and woman in a holy bond: ``For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.'' (Matt. 19:5-6. Also see Mark 10:7-9, Eph. 5:22-32).

  • My spouse is not Catholic may they receive Eucharist/Communion? Yes. We believe

     that any person Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a member of the Body of Christ (Church) and therefore may receive Communion.

    I am divorced and remarried may I receive Communion? Yes. While matrimony is a sacrament, and marriage should be a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman we do realize though that situations will arise that will lead to divorce. It is our position to refuse Communion to a divorced individual who is sincerely seeking to repent and turn to Christ is to inflict additional emotional pain and suffering.

    Do I have to go to confession? If you are asking if you must confess and repent of your sins to be forgiven – then the answer is yes. If you are asking must you confess your sins before a priest to be forgiven then the answer is no. We believe  the sacrament of Reconciliation is provided in both the General Confession and Absolution, which is included in the Mass, and through private confession to either a Priest or Bishop. It is our belief that the INTENT (sincerity) of the individual takes precedent over form.

    What does you teach about abortion?  Abortion at any time during the pregnancy to be the taking of a life. We encourage any woman faced with an unwanted pregnancy to consider adoption over abortion. We realize that at times a woman is faced with making a decision about a pregnancy that could result in harm, or even loss of life, to herself consult with qualified professionals and clergy prior to making her decision. We will never turn away a woman who has had an abortion from the loving embrace of Jesus.

    [1]Excerpted from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition  © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation; further reproduction and distribution in accordance with the Copyright Law of the United States. All rights reserved.

    [2]Old Catholics, Christian denomination organized in Munich in 1871 by Roman Catholics who protested the dogma, proclaimed the previous year by Vatican Council I, of the personal infallibility of the pope in all ex cathedra pronouncements. Excerpted from Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000