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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.*


About US
About Old Catholics



The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge,

Vol XIII: Index


Philip Schaff


The Old Catholic Church owes its origin to certain Roman Catholics who refused to accept the decree of the Vatican Council of 1870 (q.v.) affirming the infallibility of the pope when speaking ex cathedra. The decree had been fiercely debated and opposed by a considerable minority of the bishops present at the council, their arguments being based upon the early history of the Church and its fundamental faith and usages as declared by the ecumenical councils. A further charge made by the minority was that freedom of discussion had not prevailed at the council and that final action was forced. Of this minority only a few, however, persisted in the logical course indicated by their position. The organization of the opposition after the issuance of the decree was made at a meeting at

Nuremberg, Aug. 27, 1870, of professors from Bonn, Breslau, Bmunsberg, Munich, Munster, Prague, W 9rzburg, and other places, who, under the leadership of Johann Josef Ignaz von D6llinger (q.v.), declared against the decree. A gathering of laymen at KOnigswinter in September of the same year resolved that: " Considering that the council . . . did not deliberate in perfect freedom, . . . the undersigned Catholics [1,359 in number] do not recognize the decrees concerning the absolute power of the pope and his infallibility as the decision of an ecumenical council, but rather reject them as innovations in direct contradiction to the uniform faith of the Church." Of the dissenting minority spoken of above Bishop Hefele was the last to submit (April, 1871). Ecclesiastical pressure was brought upon the dissenting professors, and those who continued in opposition were excommunicated. The necessity was seen for an organization to protect the scattered clergy who adhered to the position of the minority, and a congress was held at Munich Sept. 22-24, 1871, with Prof. J. F. von Schulte of Bonn presiding, at which the conclusions of the preceding gatherings mentioned were endorsed, the direction the movement should take was decided, and measures were taken for the cure of souls. The organization of congregations in various places followed. The second congress was held at Cologn- Sept. 20, 1872, provision was made for the election of a bishop, who was chosen on June 4, 1873, the choice falling on Joseph Hubert Reinkens (q.v.), professor of theology at Breslau, who received consecration at Rotterdam from the Jansenist Bishop Heycamp of Deventer, his recognition by the king of Prussia following on Sept. 17 of the same year, and by other German princes a little later. At this congress provision was made for the government of the church by a Synodical board of clerical and lay members. The third congress was held at Constance in Sept., 1873. Thereafter the congresses were regularly held, but their function was limited to general discussions for the general good, provision for the specific care of the church being committed to the synod, which was organized.

The first synod was held at Bonn, 1874, and successive synods shaped the polity and life of the church. The possibility of union with the Protestant Church was not overlooked. A Faith catechism and a manual of instruction and were issued, recognizing only those practices and doctrines which were deemed apostolic. Auricular confession was made voluntary, and absolution was regarded as a ceremonial declaration made by the priest as a servant of Jesus Christ. Christ, " the son of God in the sense that he is of the same essence with the Father," is the head of the church, which latter is defined as the invisible body including all who have part in salvation through faith in Christ. The Apostles' Creed is employed in all services except the mass, where the Nicene Creed is used. Attempts were made to do away with abuses arising from penance, fasts and festivals, the celibacy of priests, and various matters financial, while the use of the German language has been so extended as to cover the entire service. A board of clerics and laymen has been made an organ of church direction, with the bishop as president and a layman as vice-president. The synod is the representative body, constituted of the bishop, president exofecio, the board just named, and the priests and deputies of the congregation; its powers are legislative, judicial, disciplinary, and administrative. Pastors and assistant pastors are chosen by the congregations (since 1878), with Episcopal approval, except in the case of benefices. Trial for lighter offenses is before the bishop or bishop and board, for more serious cases of offense before a synod court, with procedure based upon the German code. For parish purposes a church board exists, composed of the pastor and a body of councilors chosen for three years by the congregation. Candidates are ordained by the bishop after examination, which is preceded by the regular course in the universities. Various funds exist for supporting the work of the church.

II. In Other European Countries: The priests who in Switzerland refused the Vatican decrees adopted a constitution for " The Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland " similar to that of the Old Catholics of Germany. The first synod was held at Olten in June, 1875, and Eduard Herzog (q.v.), professor of Catholic theology at Bern, was elected bishop in June, 1876. The general course of development was similar to that in Germany; communion in both kinds was made optional, and regulations for the festivals and observances were adopted. In Austria earlier efforts to organize Old Catholics were opposed by the upper house of parliament and the government. In 1875 governmental opposition was withdrawn, and in 1876 a meeting of delegates was held at Vienna, and legal recognition was given to the Old Catholic Church Oct. 18, 1877. At a provisional synod at Vienna in July, 1879, the reforms of the church in Germany and Switzerland were accepted. The first regular synod was held in June, 1880, when five priests and a number of laymen attended. At the twentieth synod in Vienna in 1900 sixty members were present, and there were reported 16,885 members, and other details of a remarkable growth were presented. In Italy the movement showed less vigor than in the other countries named above, and it was not till 1875 that delegates from a number of congregations met at Naples and elected Luigi Proto Giurlo bishop of the National Catholic Church. In France an active interest was taken by Charles Jean Marie Augustin Hyacinth Loyson (q.v.) and the Abb6 Michaud, and a congregation was formed in Paris in 1878 to which the ministrations of bishops of Holland, Switzerland, and England were given at various times. A temporary bishop was chosen in 1888 in the person of Henry Laseelles Jenner. In Russia several communities of Bohemians attached themselves to the Old Catholic movement, obtained recognition, and also support from the State for three priests. In 1880 permission was gained for a conference to frame a constitution for permanent organization. A number of prelates of the Orthodox Church have shown sympathy with the movement and have attended the international congresses. The organization of the Old Catholic

Church in England was not perfected till 1908, when A. N. Mathew was elected bishop, secured the recognition of the Old Catholic Church of Holland, and was consecrated at Utrecht Apr. 28, 1908, having in his diocese seventeen priests.


In the United States: The discontent over the Vatican decrees in the United States was somewhat slower in taking organized form. Joseph Rena Villatte, a priest of French Canadian ancestry, who had sustained various relations in connection with various Protestant ties for mission work among foreign (Polish) populations in Wisconsin, had received Catholic ordination from Bishop Herzog of the Church. Swiss Christian Catholic Church (ut sup.) and also received Episcopal consecration in 1892 from Archbishop Alvarez of India, Ceylon, and Goa. But the right of Alvarez to per form episcopal acts was under question, and the consecration of Villatte was not recognized by the Old Catholic bishops of Europe or by the Protestant Episcopalian bishops in the United States. Hence the attempts made by Villatte to found an Old Catholic Church in the United States had no permanent result. More successful has been the work among the Polish immigrants to this country, people of this nationality coming here with a lively dissatisfaction with the course of the Roman Catholic Church in their own land. Many of them had no ecclesiastical relations at all, and a movement was begun by Anthony Koslowaki (d. Jan. 14, 1907), a Pole of Italian education, who became rector of a Polish congregation in Chicago in 1893. The next year he withdrew from the Roman Catholic communion and became a leader in the reform movement, was elected a bishop, and received consecration from the Old Catholic bishop of Switzerland at Bern, Switzerland, in 1897, founding the Independent (Polish) Catholic Church. The growth of the organization was remarkable; congregations were established in Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Buffalo, Jersey City, Fall River, Mass., and Wilkesbarre, Pa.; and in 1902 it re ported 22 priests, 10 sisters, 26 congregations, 80,000 adherents, 26 schools with 3,000 attendants, 26 Sunday-schools, and 31 buildings. It had, besides, an educational institution with grammar and high school and industrial departments in Chicago, and connected with it a hospital and dispensary and a home for the aged. Overtures were made in 1902 to the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States for recognition and intercommunion on the basis of the Lambeth " Quadrilateral " (see LAMBETH ARTICLES; LAMBETH CONFERENCE), but beyond referring the matter to a committee no definite action has been taken. In the overtures the object of the organization was stated as the wish to serve those who cannot intelligently take part in worship Conducted in the English tongue, and allegiance was pledged to the Old Catholic Synod of Europe until such time as the church shall be received by the Protestant Episcopal Church as an affiliated body.

The disposition to separate from the Roman Catholic Church illustrated by the formation of the Polish organization just described manifested itself also among Bohemians and others of Slavic race in America. A number of independent congregations nucleated in several cities. It was felt that these should be united under episcopal administration, and as the Independent Catholic (Polish) Catholic Church desired to restrict its work to Poles, a separate organization seemed necessary. The ad vice of the Old Catholic bishops of Utrecht and Switzerland was asked, and in consequence of their advice, taking into account the largeness of the country and the possibility of three or four Old Catholic dioceses, the National Catholic Church was organized, with Jan F. Tichy as Episcopal administrator (appointed by the bishop of Utrecht). This Church " is formed upon the same basis as the mother Church in Switzerland," this including theoretical as well as practical matters. Its attitude is avowedly friendly toward the Polish organization and to the Protestant Episcopal Church. It derives its apostolic succession from the Church in Holland. It reported in 1906, 9 churches and 11 missions in the United States and Canada, 7 priests, and about 15,000 members. It is incorporated in Ohio, and has a cathedral and other buildings in Cleveland with property valued at about $20,000. Bulletin 103 of the United States Census (Religious Bodies) gives the Polish National Church in America 24 priests, 24 ministers, 15,473 communicants, and church property valued at $494,700.

IV. Statistics and the Congresses: In 1900 there were reported 57 active clergy and 13,079 communicants in Germany; approximately 40 parishes in Switzerland; 24 parishes and 16,885 members in Austria; and 21 parishes in Holland, where it possessed also the Amerafoort theological seminary; a few churches existed in Italy, the movement was represented in France, and attempts had been made in Portugal and Spain. In 1904 the German states of Prussia, Bavaria, Baden, and Hesse had 65 clergy, 11,201 communicants, and 1,946 children receiving instruction in the schools. In 1878 the Old Catholics of Europe began holding their synods (for business) and their general congresses (for discussion) in different years. Congresses have been held at Cologne 1891, Lucerne 1892, Rotterdam 1894, Vienna 1897, and Bonn 1902. At these meetings representatives have at different times been present from the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, the Russian Church, the Petite Itglise of France, the Church of England. The subjects for discussion have taken a wide range, including the matter of international churches and the establishment of an international theological faculty, the dissemination of Old Catholic literature, the propaganda among the Slavic populations, the formation of societies for religious, educational, and social objects, practical matters such as the establishment of a fund for the support of priests joining the movement until they can be settled at work, and the Z08 von Rom movement (q.v.).


JANSEHIST CHURCH IN HOLLAND. Contributory Causes of the Schism of 1702 ( 1). Its Immediate Occasion ( 2). History ( 3). Differences from the Roman Catholic Church ( 4).

The doctrines of Jansenism (see JANSEN, COR NELIU9, JANBENIBM) left no permanent trace in Belgium or in France, but in Holland there has been for more than two centuries a church popularly called Jansenist. Its adherents reject the name, of the rightly calling themselves the Old Schism Catholic Church of Holland, since the schism among the Dutch Roman Catholics in 1702, to which they owe their origin, sprang from the adherence of the Dutch clergy to the privileges of their church rather than from dogmatic principles. The first bishop in Holland was Willibrord (q.v.), consecrated bishop of Utrecht by Pope Sergius I. in 695. Among his successors were not a few who opposed the growing tendency to regard the pope as the unrestricted governor of all Christendom. The bishop of Utrecht was originally chosen by the clergy, and in 1145 the Emperor Conrad III, confirmed the right to the chapter of St. Martin's Cathedral. The choice was not always accepted by Rome. In 1559 in accordance with the wish of Philip II. of Spain, then ruler of the Netherlands, the pope elevated Utrecht to the rank of an archbishopric with five suffragan sees, and it was then agreed by pope and king that the latter should select the bishops, to be confirmed by the pope. Nine years later the War of Liberation broke out, lasting for eighty years, and involved the Roman Catholics in many difficulties. Though they joined. with the Protestants in fighting against the Spanish yoke, they were mistrusted, and about 1573 the public exercise of Catholic worship was forbidden-a prohibition which remained in force till the revolution of 1795. As the incumbents of the episcopal sees died, it was found difficult to fill their places. Sasbold Vosmeer, chosen general vicar by the Utrecht chapter in 1583, after the death of the archbishop in 1580, was consecrated archbishop by the pope in 1602, but with the title archbishop of Philippi. His successors were chosen and consecrated in the same way. Under the fifth of them, Petrus Codde (consecrated 1689), occurred the schism.

More formidable opponents than the Protestants had appeared against the Roman Catholic clergy of Holland. During the turbulent conditions of the long war the country Immediate had been invaded by " regular " clergy especially by the Jesuits after 1590, who accused the Dutch clergy of the Jansenistic heresy. In 1697, during the negotiations of peace at Ryswik, there appeared an anonymous treatise in French, soon afterward also in Latin, and some years later in Dutch, under the title " Short Memorial concerning the Condition and Progress of Jansenism in Holland." Some copies fell into the hands of Codde, who hastened to send the book to Rome with an apology. He was declared innocent in Rome, although there was no end of insinuations. Since Alexander VII. had issued his constitution against the so-called five theses of Jansen in 1656, the accusation implied that the accused was suspected of agreeing with the five condemned theses, or of refusing to believe that Jansen had taught those theses in his Augustinus, and thereby given rise to the heresy condemned by the church. Codde and his subordinate ecclesiastics could easily defend themselves against the charge of agreeing with the content of the condemned theses, although the former did not express himself on the question whether Jansen had really taught them or not. But since the decision of Alexander, this point involved the absolute supremacy and infallibility of the pope, and the Jesuits were intent upon having this question decided. Codde was summoned to Rome in 1700, and in 1702 was declared guilty of heresy. There was great consternation in Holland when it was learned that he had been dismissed from office, and still more when Theodor de Kock, his opponent, was appointed general vicar. The estates took the part of Codde and forced his opponents to let him return to Holland, where he arrived in 1703. The question now was, what attitude would Codde, the Dutch clergy, and the Utrecht chapter assume. If they accepted Codde's dismissal, the independence of the Utrecht church was necessarily abolished. Codde himself, from love of peace, remained until his death in a passive attitude, steadfastly asserting his rights and those of his church, but refraining from exercising them. A large party of the Dutch' clergy and laity, however, remained faithful to him, although another part followed De Kock. Thus Codde's dismissal led to a schism in the Dutch Roman Catholic Church which has never been healed.

It was to be expected that the church of the Jansenists, as Codde's party was now called, would decrease in numbers after Rome had spoken. Owing to the lack of higher ecclesiastics, the church of Utrecht was on the point of extinction, when aid came in an unexpected manner. Several French clergymen who refused to sign the bull Unigenitus in 1713 (see JANSEN, CORNELIUS, JANSENISM) sought refuge on Dutch soil. Moreover, in 1719, Dom Maria Varlet (chosen bishop of Babylon in 1718 and consecrated as bishop of Ascalon Feb. 19, 1719) spent some time in Amsterdam before he undertook his journey to the Orient. In Amsterdam be he came acquainted with ecclesiastics of the Old Catholic Church and was active in their behalf. He had hardly reached the Orient when the pope suspended him as a Jansenist. He then returned to Holland, where the Utrecht chapter in 1723 had elected Cornelis Steenoven as archbishop to prevent the extinction of the Old Catholic Church. In 1724 Bishop Varlet consecrated him. The pope, of course, immediately put Steenoven under the ban, but the Utrecht church was saved from extinction. Steenoven died in 1725, and was succeeded by Barchman Wuytiers (d. 1733), who was followed by Theodor van der Croon (d. 1739), both consecrated by Varlet. The Utrecht church soon recognized the danger of making its continuance dependent upon the life of a single bishop, and consequently Hieronymus de Bock was consecrated bishop of Haarlem in 1742, and B. J. Bijevelt bishop of Deventer in 1758.

Several attempts to reconcile the pope failed.  A serious danger threatened the Old Catholic Church in Holland under the administration of the Roman Catholic king, Louis Bonaparte (1806-10), and under the regime of Emperor Napoleon (1810-13), who contemplated prohibiting the election of a new Old Catholic bishop; but this danger passed with the restitution of the independence of Holland, and in 1814 W. van Os was elected archbishop of Utrecht, and in 1819 Johannes Bon bishop of Haarlem (see EPISCOPACY, III.). The difficulties which threatened the church under King William I. and King William IL, who desired to establish a concordat with the pope, passed as soon as the agreement failed. The law concerning church associations enacted in 1853 assured entire freedom to all ecclesiastical organizations, including the Old Catholics. In this way the small church has gradually increased its members from 5,000 to almost 8,000, and its parishes from twenty-five to twenty six. It is not strange that the Old Catholic bishops disapproved the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and that of papal infallibility in 1870. The chief points of difference between the Old Catholics of Holland and their Roman Catholic opponents are the following:

(1)  The Old Catholic Church considers the deposition of Archbishop Codde illegal, and asserts that, in spite of the Reformation of the sixteenth century and its Church the Roman Catholic Church has existed without interruption, and has continuously retained its right to administer its own affairs as a national church, independent of the church in Rome.

(2)  It refuses to sign the formula of Pope Alexander VIL, unless permitted to make a distinction between a signature quoad jua and quond fnctum; namely, between the question whether the five incriminated theses were heretical, and the question whether Jansen had taught them in a heretical sense.

(3)  It rejects the bull Unigenitus, since this bull val idates the moral system of the Jesuits for the whole Roman Catholic Church. The importance of the Old Catholic Church of Holland for all Roman Catholic Christendom lies not only in the fact that it is a monument of the spirit of the earlier centuries, but also in the fact that it has entered into relations with the Old Catholic movement in Germany and Switzerland. When the Old Catholic spirit was aroused in Germany in opposition to the dogma of infallibility in 1870, and the necessity of a bishop for the newly organized Old Catholic Church was felt, it was H. Heykamp, the Old Catholic bishop of Deventer, who, in 1873, consecrated J. H. Reinkena bishop of the German Old Catholics. See OLD CATHOLICS. (J. A. GE'RTH VAN WIJK.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY: C, P. HOy71Ck a Papendreeht, Hitt. ecclesiae Uitralectinae, Mechlin, 1725; T. Baekhusius, BewijrSchrift, 3 vole., Utrecht, 17230; M. G. Dupao de Bellegarde, Hiet, abr4g6e de l'Epi%ae m0ropoZitaine d'Utreeht, ib. 1852 J. W. Neale, Hint. of the so-called Janaeniat Church of Holland, London 1858; R. Bennink Janaeonius, Oeechiedenia der Oud-RoomacA-KathoZieke Kerk in Nederland, The Hague, 1870; F. Nippold, Die r6miach-katholiache Kirche . der Niederlande, Leipeie, 1877; J. A. van Beek, Geschiedenis der hollandache Kerk, Rotterdam, 1886; Neerlsndia Catholics, Utrecht, 1888; J. do Huller, Bijdrape tot de peachiedenie van hot Utrechtachs 3chisma, The Hague, 1892; W. P. C. Knuttel, Ds Toealand der nederlandache Katholieken, 2 vote., ib. 1892-94; J. Meyhoffer, Le Msrtyrdope Protestant des Paya-Bas, 188-1697, The Hague, 1907. The literature of the church is given by J. A. van Beek, Lijat roan taeken uitpsuen in de Oud-KatJwlieke Kerk, 3 vole., Rotterdam, 1892-93. Much of the literature under JAlI6ENIaM is pertinent, e.g., the work of Tregellee.