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.
Rt. Rev Michael Nesmith
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
Yes. We professes and provide
seven sacraments. They are:
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).
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).
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).
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).
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
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).
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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