An Old Catholic Church located in Clarksville, Tennessee. Married Clergy allowed.
Ordination information, Old Catholic Church History, and more.
AKA as the Old Catholic Church of America Inc.*
Old Catholic History
Who We, As Old Catholics, Are
The Old Catholics are a body of Christians committed to the Person of Jesus Christ and His teaching. We accept and believe the testimony of His Apostles, eyewitnesses of His Life, Death and Resurrection from among the dead. They passed on to succeeding generations their own testimony about Jesus Christ and His life. By the proclaiming of His Gospel and the giving of their own testimony (called the Apostolic Tradition), the Church which the Lord instituted was built up. Old Catholics are an historic part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and have their origins in the Ancient Catholic Church of the Netherlands.
The Ancient Catholic Church of the Netherlands
St. Willibrord missionized the area of Europe known as the Low Countries in the Seventh Century firmly establishing the Catholic Faith and Tradition in the Netherlands and other countries in that region. Early on, three principal dioceses were established in the cities of Utrecht, Deventer and Haarlem to administer the affairs of the Church in the territory. Utrecht eventually became the archiepiscopal see with supervision over Deventer and Haarlem. Assenting to a petition made by the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III and Bishop Heribert of Utrecht, Blessed Pope Eugene III, in 1145 A.D. granted the Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht the right to elect successors to the See in times of vacancy. The fourth Council of the Laterian confirmed this privilege in 1215. The autonomous character of the Ancient Catholic Church in the Netherlands was further demonstrated when a second grant by Pope Leo X, Debitum Pastoralis, conceded to Philip of Burgundy, 57th Bishop of Utrecht, that neither he nor his successors, nor any of their clergy or laity, should ever, in the first instance, have his cause evoked to any external tribunal, not even under pretense of any apostolic letters whatever; and that all such proceedings should be, ipso facto, null and void. This papal concession, in 1520, was of the greatest importance in defense of the rights of the Church.
The Church in the Netherlands and the Reformation
Armed with the protection of the papal concessions, the Church in the Netherlands continued to minister even through the Reformation. During this period of strife, the Church in the Netherlands, as in many other countries, was forced to "go underground" in order to survive. But survive and remain extant, it did. Eventually, the Archbishop of Utrecht and other Church leaders reached an informal agreement with the civil government, whereby it could again function openly without interference from the Reformers.
The Move from Isolation
Following the First Vatican Council in 1870 (at which the hierarchy of the Church of Holland were refused admittance), a considerable dissent among Catholics, especially in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, arose over the dogma of papal infallibility. The dissenters, while holding the Church in General Council to be infallible, could not accept the proposition that the Pope, acting alone, in matters of faith and morals is infallible. Many formed independent communities that came to be known as Old Catholic. They are called Old Catholics because they sought to adhere to the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church of the post-Apostolic era. The Old Catholic communities appealed to the Archbishop of Utrecht who consecrated the first bishops for these communities. Eventually, under the leadership of the Church of Holland, these Old Catholic communities joined together to form the Utrecht Union of Churches. The Utrecht Union of Churches approbated, in 1908, the establishment of a mission in Great Britain. Archbishop Gerardus Gul of Utrecht consecrated Father Arnold Harris Matthew, a resigned Roman Catholic priest, Regionary Bishop for England. It was Bishop Mathew's charge to minister among Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics impeded from full participation in the life and sacraments of the Church. Toward this end, Bishop Mathew consecrated Austrian nobleman, Prince Rudolph Edward de Landes Berghes, in 1913 for work in Scotland. Prince Rudolph (1873-1920) left England for the United States at the onset of World War I.
In the United States
Bishop de Landes Berghes, in spite of great difficulty and isolation from the Utrecht Union of Churches, due to Bishop Mathew's hasty action in withdrawing from the Union, was able to plant the roots of an independent expression of Catholicism in America. He elevated to the episcopacy two priests, Carmel Henry Carfora and William Francis Brothers. Each of these bishops, in his own manner, continued the mission begun by Bishop de Landes Berghes. With the passing of these original organizers from the ecclesiastical scene, the Old Catholic Church in the United States has evolved from a fairly centralized administration with structured oversight of ministry to a local and regional model of administration with self-governing dioceses and provinces more closely following St. Ignatius of Antioch's concepts of the Church as a communion of communities each laboring together to proclaim the message of the Gospel.
What Old Catholics Believe
The faith of Old Catholics is simply that of the Catholic Church as taught by the Church from apostolic times to the present day. The ecumenical Councils clearly express what Old Catholics believe without the need for apology or excuse. In 1823, Archbishop Willibrord van Os of Utrecht reiterated adherence to the unchanging doctrine of Catholicism in the following words: "We accept without any exception whatever, all the Articles of the Holy Catholic Faith. We will never hold nor teach, now or afterwards, any other opinions than those that have been decreed, determined and published by our Mother, Holy Church..." Thus, Old Catholics, tracing their Apostolic Succession through the Roman Catholic Church to the Apostles, participated in the full sacramental ministry of the Church. The Rule of Faith of Old Catholics is faithful adherence to Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition.
How Do We Differ?
In matters of discipline, administration and procedure, Old Catholics differ from the Roman Catholic Church. For example, clerical celibacy (which is a matter of discipline) is optional among Old Catholics. Married men and women may be ordained and in many of our dioceses clergy may, with prior episcopal consent, enter into Holy Matrimony after ordination. Liturgical expression is also a matter of discipline determined by the local bishop. Consequently, many Old Catholic communities have adopted the liturgical renewal promulgated following the Second Vatican Council while still maintaining Tridentine liturgy, in Latin or direct translation into classical or modern English, in those parishes that desire it. Eastern rite Old Catholic parishes exist as well, which follow the ancient liturgies of that rich tradition. Because Old Catholic communities are small, they are able to success fully implement the Ignatian model of the Church referred to earlier. This concept views the faithful with their clergy and bishop as a community or family in loving concern for each other and each working together to live the Scriptural commands in their daily lives as Christians bringing the love of Christ to others. Old Catholic communities utilize their size and lack of highly detailed structure to the very best advantage organizationally by their ability to expedite decisions affecting the sacramental and community life of the faithful, within the revelation and authority of Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition.
There are other distinctives by which Old Catholic communities are differentiated from Roman Catholic parishes. The matter of papal infallibility defined by Vatican Council I is a non-issue for Old Catholics, since we are independent of papal jurisdiction. All Old Catholic communities accord the Holy Father that respect due him as Successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles and Patriarch of the West. Old Catholics adhere to the teaching from apostolic times that the Church in General Council is infallible. Another difference, is that divorced people who remarry are treated in a pastoral manner and not excluded from the sacramental life of the Church. Further, the matter of contraception is treated as a matter of personal conscience between husband and wife. Old Catholic theology recognizes that the Church's teaching magisterium has no less than two objects: The formation of conscience, in which case authority has an instructive quality; and the nurturing of an informed conscience to full maturity, in which case authority is guiding but not directive.
Old Catholic Ministry
By developing new methods and ideas with an emphasis on community, and Catholicism, which expresses a warmth and interest in the total person, Old Catholic communities are able to address the needs of today's society in the waning years of the Twentieth Century. For the contemporary Catholic searching to maintain his/her Faith but desiring to do so without excessive institutionalism that often loses contact with the individual; for those with a Catholic background who feel impeded from full participation in the life and Sacraments of the Church; for the many unchurched who desire the joy and peace of Our Lord's Word and His Holy Sacraments, Old Catholic communities provide available alternative and allow a person to be a part of Christ's Church, and be at peace with his/her conscience. Old Catholic communities, because of their size, can give individual attention to the individual spiritual needs of the faithful and, where necessary, develop unique ministries to meet those needs.