Are "Old Catholic" Sacraments and Orders Valid?


How would you respond to these statements which appeared in a local newspaper today:

…Though the Old Catholic Church officially dates to 1870 and exists apart from the Roman Catholic Church, its orders and sacraments were recognized by Rome through a declaration signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) in 2000. It’s one of 33 “branches of the Catholic Church with a capital ‘C,’ ” said the Most Rev. Michael Hillis, who is presiding archbishop for the synod…

…Hillis said many call his church “independent” Catholic, but that is a misnomer because the Vatican, through publication of Dominus Lesus[sic], a declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, recognizes the validity of its orders and sacraments…

Here is their defense and rationale for this:

To me is sounds like they are playing a little slippery with Dominus Iesus. What are the facts?


It seems that they’re touting the fact that their sacraments are considered valid (even though Dominus Iesus doesn’t mention them specifically). It seems they are trying to downplay the fact that they are not obedient to the pope and place themselves on the same level as the Orthodox churches.


If they are Old Catholic in full communion with the Archbishop of Utrecht or part of the Polish National Catholic Church or the Philippines Independent Church their orders are valid but illicit (like Orthodox orders). Though many groups that call themselves Old Catholic are invalid


I have actually heard the “Old Catholics” started “ordaining” women. If that is true, those ordinations are certainly invalid, and if these women went on to “ordain” future priests those orders would be invalid.

If that is true, then the validity overall for “Old Catholic” sacraments should be considered doubtful/questionable.


There are, as noted, a variety of OCs. The major group, the Utrecht OCs, have started laying hands on females, of late. Offshoots, like the PNCC, have not.



I thought Utrecht and the PolishCC were the same. :o


You are correct. The groups you mentioned have valid but illicit orders. This is how certain Continuing Anglican groups (eg TAC who are now seeking union with Rome) have valid orders because their Bishop was consecrated by Bishops with PIC and PNCC succession. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes OC (Utrecht), PNCC, PIC succession.

You are also correct that there are a number of groups in the US that call themselves “Old Catholic” but are not recognized by the Old Catholic Church (Utrecht Union). Usually these groups trace themselves back to Villate, Mathews and so on. Many are inclusive and quite liberal.

In any case, valid or not, the only church that a Catholic should seek sacraments from (except in extraordinary circumstances as allowed by canon law) is the Catholic Church.


Nope. The PNCC was formed around 1897, and was in communion with the European OCs. IIRC, when Utrecht began laying hands on hairspray, they broke communion.



That (laying hand on hairspray) cracked me up! :rotfl:


I thank you.

That reminds me of a partially true story.

There was a site on the net, years ago, that claimed to bestow the Apostolic Succession on folks who made the right (credit card ) contribution, thus ordaining them in the Apostolic Church Of Whatever It Was.

I described the site and process, on another board, and was met with some incredulity. It’s true, I said, and it was. And, adding a little corroborative detail to a bare and unconvincing narrative, I described it a little more.

At some point (I said) in the process, a lifesize image of a pair of hands, palms down, appears on the monitor, and the applicant (ordinand?) is instructed to place the top of his/her head on the screen, against the image of the palms, and then to press “Enter”. This transmits the ordination.

I made part of that up.



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