Thursday, September 06, 2007

Do you know about Old Catholics?

Old Catholics.

No, not elderly Catholics, but the schismatic sect known as Old Catholics. They date back to the 17th century. Their orders are valid, but illicit. It is my understanding that in a grave emergency, or if a Roman Catholic was in danger of death, the Old Catholic sacraments are valid. The Wild Reed has an interesting post on Old Catholics and their history, including an in-depth interview with Fr. Robert Caruso, a local Old Catholic priest. (Ed: The site is pro-gay, so if that offends you, use the Wikipedia links below for information on "Old Catholics". Neverthelesss, it is a good interview and not focused upon pro-gay issues.)

Old Catholics (Wiki link) should not be confused with the SSPX (Wiki link) or any sedevacantist group (Wiki link). (For instance, the Old Catholic church ordains women.) In the United States they are much more liberal than the most dissident of Roman Catholic churches, while they remain distinct from the so-called Liberal Catholic Church (Wiki link), which has no connection with the Roman Catholic Church whatsoever. In these confusing times, I believe it is good to know the differences.

[Photo: Ordination in an Old Catholic church.]


  1. Michael Bayly, true to his agenda, is not writing on the Old Catholic Church as an ecumenical or historical exercise. He is writing on it because the pastor of the Cornerstone Old Catholic Church in St Paul near the Cathedral happens to be a "partnered homosexual."

    I'm not overly familiar with that church, but I believe that 20 years ago or so it closed and probably its association with the Old Catholic Church is quite recent in origin. The homosexuals, like scientologist ministers who wear roman collars, love to appear as Catholic as they can.

    I am more familiar with the Old Catholic Church due to my Polish heritage. My Dad's grandparents immigrated from Poland to Duluth between 1867 and 1872 and were among the earliest Polish settlers of that city. Working in a vacuum, I have become probably the most knowledgeable person around about the history of that Polish community. A year ago I was the featured speaker at a conference on the subject in Duluth.

    The Polish National Catholic Church split off from the Roman Catholic Church in Scranton, PA, about 1897 for some reasons such as Bayly has stated but probably mostly for local reasons, financial and cultural, primarily conflicts with the Bishop of Scranton.

    The same thing happened in Duluth in 1907 and a sizeable number of Roman Catholic parishioners of St Mary Star of the Sea parish left to form St Josephat's PNC parish, a couple of blocks away. St Mary's had just finished rebuilding their building after a fire and one effect of the split was to double the financial responsibility of those who remained Catholic.

    People were p---ed. Families were broken, including mine, and some hate each other to this day. But most, fortunately have agreed to a truce.

    Those who left wanted to stay Catholic but to have their services in the Polish language and control the financial affairs of their parish themselves. The Poles in Scranton had sought out the Dutch Catholic Church, a Jansenist heretical sect with valid episcopal orders and had their leader,
    Father Francis Hodur consecrated a Bishop by them. The Duluth Poles aligned themselves with the PNCC in Scranton.

    It's a long and involved story and if you are interested, I'll give you a good summary.

    Minneapolis had a PNCC parish created also and the Polish born pastor of that parish in northeast Minneapolis is also the pastor of the Duluth parish after the latter's pastor died a couple of years ago.

    I doubt that the PNCC parishes actively seek homosexual priests.

    Rome and the PNCC have been in regular communications for many years and in case of emergency, both groups accept the sacraments of the other as being valid.

    I'm not sure what is going on with the Dutch Catholic Church these days. I believe that the Liberal Catholic Church in Minneapolis claims that they are affiliated with them. Recently, a woman who claims to have been consecrated a priest in the Chicago area visited the Liberal Catholic Church in Minneapolis and attempted to celebrate a Mass there.

    So like with much of the Dutch Catholic Church, the broken away Jansenist Dutch Catholic Church probably has gone off the rails and will accept anybody who has the money up front these days.

    I need to do some research on this.

  2. Anonymous11:35 PM

    I read the title and thought you were referring to yourself.....heehee.

    Angie M.

  3. Angie - Funny, because yesterday I was going to write about geting older!

    Ray - Wow! What don't you know! Thanks for adding so much insight to this - I wanted to write something on this because where I worked, we had a regular customer who is an "Old Catholic" priest and many employees and customers were confused about his status.


  4. Ray is an endless source of information!

    Our nearest neighbor at our cabin is German and her father was an Old German pastor (not an Old Catholic) or something like that...not sure what denomination she was referring to. They settled in MI. She's not Lutheran and there aren't any of these churches around, so they now attend some congregational church. She's always been fond of me, probably more for my conservative beliefs that align with hers, more than our religious backgrounds.

    But, these schismatic groups or splinter groups confuse me. Why object to something, break away, but then still call yourself a Catholic of some sort or retain similar rituals? If I broke away, I would change the name, I'd wear tee-shirts and sweats and my rituals would include things like doughnuts and ice cream ;)

  5. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Back in the old days—late 50's, if a Catholic opened up the yellow pages, one would find a few listings under the heading "Catholic" ... such as: Orthodox, Russian, Roman, & Old Catholic etc. Today it would make post Vatican II educated Catholics minds pretty confused with the likes of: Evangelical Catholics, Progressive Catholics, Liberal Catholics, Ecumenical Catholics, African Catholic etc. churches, including all the "traditionalist" churches.

    It is all very interesting and insightful especially when one studies their doctrines, beliefs and history ... and what they support socially.

  6. I ran into some Old Catholics once. Everything was cool for about five minutes and then it dawned on me that these people weren't right. I didn't know what a sedevacantist was back then but knew that I was in the presence of insanity.

  7. This is all news to me, Terry, and Ray, as I have never heard of these groups. But reading that Wiki article, I am reminded of the Zenit news item just today that the Vatican excommunicated The Army of Mary (have y'all heard of them? I sure haven't). They also have their roots in Haarlem, Amsterdam. I wonder if they are an apostolate offshoot from the Old Catholics?

    All very, very confusing. Glad I don't have to sort it all out. LOL

  8. CHrist sake, so many lies.Old Catholics, assuch, are neither a sect nor a heresy, by your own Popes. Be so kind and read your own Popes declarations and encyclics. Hi all, to correct some of the errors, there are two streams of Old Catholicism, the Utrecht Union including most Old Catholic churches (they operate on territorial principle, unlike Rome, so there are dozens of them, one in each country) and including US and Canadian Episcopalians, and then there is Scranton Union, which was established by several Old Catholic Churches (like mine, the Slovak Old Catholic Church) in reaction to Utrecht Union starting to ordain women, ordain openly gay men and support homosexual relationships, to which we protested, but to no avail. So we withdrew and established the Scranton Union (in Scranton :-). The Scranton Union is the "good guys" of which the Papal Declaration Dominus Iesus of August 2000 speaks. Full apostolic succession, valid sacraments, valid priests and bishops, Roman and Eastern Catholics may "validly and licitely" (according to the Pope, not my idea) accept sacraments there under canon of necessity (conditions of canon law are these: no local ordinary (= priest or bishop) of their own is available for that sacrament at that time in that place, happens more often than you think) and vice versa, we are allowed to accept sacraments (Holy Eucharist and Holy Confession before all, but all others as well) under the same terms (also happens very often). The Papal Declaration applies expressly to: Orthodox Church, Polish National Church and Old Catholic Church with the caveat "with valid apostolic succession", so Utrecht churches are thereby excluded while Scranton curches are thereby included. And a note at the end: the Papal Declaration was issued by His Holiness John Paul II and then confirmed by s Holiness Benedict XVI, and it is a textbook declaration "in the matters of faith and morals". You Roman Catholics do know what that means, right?


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