Old Catholic Church?

As a warning I don’t want any debates, doctrinal disputes or whatevs attached to this thread.


I’m confused with this one. Obviously they’re Protestants (judging from their history), not Catholics who are in communion with the Church.

But in the grand, often confusing spectrum of Protestant denominations; are they more like Anglicans or Reformed Protestants? I need answers from both adherents to this church and people who have met several said adherents before.

Your Link said it all so there is no need for a discussion which is what you want.
It spells it out on the Link.


I need answers from both adherents to this church and people who have met several said adherents before.

WHY- sorry you said no discussion.

Oh… sorry I didn’t read the entire link… Can a moderator delete this thread pls… Sorry. :S

New here? The purpose of forums is to allow discussions that include opinions leading to debates and doctrinal discussions (you call disputes) and “whatevs”,:shrug:

Actually they’re more like Traditionalist Catholics - except somewhere they went wrong…

We should pray daily for the reunion of all Christians.

O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. Amen.

I guess Anglican probably. My understanding is that the Old Catholics spit from the CC because of disagreements over the validity of Vatican I, papal supremacy, infallibility and all that, but that they still retained many of the traditional and liturgical “trappings”.

And valid Orders.


Correct. Old Catholic Orders (and all their Sacraments) are recognized by Rome as valid. Catholics should genuflect before the Tabernacles of Old Catholic because they contain the Real Presence, just like ours.

Well from the write up I read from them in a chapter from the book “Separated Brethren” by William Whalen, it appears that there are two kinds of Old Catholics in the USA. The first are those that come from Europe directly via immigration, mostly from the Polish National Catholic Church, and who separated themselves mostly over Vatican I and claim apostolic succession through the “Union of Utrecht”, another schism that happened in the 18th century. The second are those which sprang up in the USA/Canada with no link to Europe, except some very doubtful claim of apostolic succession obtained by a “bishop” in some shady manner (or sometimes he will use a higher rank like “metropolitan” or “patriarch”) who is the parish “priest”. Your average “Old Catholic” parish in the USA/Canada will be of the latter sort. They retain the old trappings of liturgy, but have pretty much done away with Orthodox Catholic beliefs about the Eucharist, Confession, the sanctity of life and marriage, etc. (for instance there is an “Old Catholic” church where I live which appears to be very liberal from their “about us” section, in fact they started out in the 1920s as the “Liberal Catholic Church”) It appears that they are, therefore, quite similar to the Anglican (Episcopal) communion.

I am of course going from memory here, and I would recommend this book for a more in depth explanation.

The Polish National Catholic Church was founded in the USA by Polish immigrants, partly over property and ethnic disputes between immigrants and Irish bishops in NY State and Pennsylvania. I don’t think Vatican I or doctrine was an issue, but they needed to go to the European “Old Catholics” for the Apostolic Succession. I don’t believe they are currently aligned with the Old Catholics, who are more liberal.
re: the poster who described Old Catholics as “traditionalist” I would say probably every group that broke with the Catholic Church, or from a Protestant church for that matter, argued they are going back to the pure, original Christianity. What group wouldn’t be “traditionalist”?

My understanding is several of these “Old Catholic Churches” are more like “independent” Catholic Churches. They are not recognized by Rome, so they are basically a non-denominational church.

I say this because there is a small one of these in Rockwall, Texas that has a small congregation. The bishop of Dallas issued a statement that although this small church uses the name “Catholic”, it is not in union and communion with Rome.

I would say you would have to investigate a church with a name like this to see what it truly is.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the correction!

If you do an internet search you will soon discover that there are many bodies calling themselves “Old and Independent” Catholic.

Many of them are tiny and some consist of one parish only. If you read the sites many if not all of them go to elaborate lengths to ‘prove’ their apostolic succession.

I think they are in their own way fascinating. They vary widely and many of them consist of one person (they usually ‘ordain’ both sexes and homosexuals as well) as a bishop with their cathedral a living room or garage.

Good point, that there are many splitting of churches and from many sources.

The church that calls itself the ‘Old Catholic Church’ is neither protestant nor traditionalist Catholics. Both labels are often misunderstood.

Protestants normally refer to Churches that broke away from Rome during the Reformation or is a splinter of one such church. Some Protestants keep to the strict definition that Protestants refer only to those churches that broke away during the Reformation while those that split off such churches are called Evangelicals (which is confusing because the Evangelical Lutheran broke off directly from Rome during the Reformation and is not a splinter church). Pentecostal churches are not Protestants by this definition and usually categorise themselves (further confusion here) as Evangelicals.

Traditionalists Catholics are not defined (as far as I know) and are sometimes (incorrectly IMHO) used to refer to churches that broke away from Rome after Vatican 1 and Vatican 2. While they all hold that the Catholic church has turned away from old traditions, both waves of splits are fundamentally different. Those that broke away ater Vatican 1 disagreed with the doctrine of papal infallibility and what they saw as the increasing conservative leanings of the Church that followed. Those that broke away after Vatican 2 disagreed with the teachings of Vatican 2, in particular the vernacularisation of the liturgy, and what they perceived as the increasing liberal tendencies of the Church that followed.

The term Old Catholics was initially used to denote those who did not recognise the bishop of Utrecht (the primatial see of Netherlands) appointed by Rome in 18th century (2 bishops ended up competing for the see, each with its own supporting bishops) and later came to include the influx of Catholics disaffected by Vatican 1 in 1870. These Catholics (who had no bishops) sought the apostolic succession from the Utrecht bishops after breaking away from Rome and gave the character to the Old Catholic Church as a post-Vatican 1 breakaway even though their origins were a century earlier.

Today, the Old Catholics are in communion with the Anglican communion and is rather small (about 100,000 adherents). While we recognise their apostolic succession and therefore the validity of their sacraments (unlike Anglicans), the Old Catholic Church has become more liberal of late on their stance regarding homosexuality and women’s ordination. As a result, the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC), an even smaller splinter church, broke away from the Old Catholic Church about 10 years ago.

I hope this is clear.

I thought they threw away their orders when the Union of Utrecht began ordaining women…

At this point, I am not aware of any declaration from Rome regarding the apostolic succession of the Old Catholics.

But still, interesting point and I think this could be a new area for Catholics. Anglicans from non-women ordaining province accept the acts of bishops of women-ordaining provinces but do not accept the women priests themselves. I guess we genuflect in Old Catholics churches where we know to be ‘manned’ by a male priest.

Moot point for most of us as there are very few, if any, Old Catholic churches we are likely to unwittingly stumble upon, especially yours truly where the nearest Old Catholic church is likely a few thousand miles away.

It would not be accurate to say that an attempt at female ordination would “throw away” their orders, absent a more general and binding declaration from pertinent authority. Certainly, the sacrament of orders would not be confected in any particular instance, and there might eventually be a judgement on sacramental intent, as reflected in such actions. But not merely from the attempt at female ordination.


In many cases it’s simply Orwellian “doublespeak”, meaning that they use words that seem to lend credence to their claims, but they are words vacant of meaning.

My favorite in that sense is the Polish National Catholic Church. It has no connection whatever to the nation of Poland (besides being started by those who emigrated from Poland) and, of course, they split AWAY from the catholic church but still desire to use the title to add the appearance of legitimacy to their endeavor…

Same thing with “old catholics.” What it really means is “new schismatics!” :wink: But who wants to put that on the sign up front?

Sorry, maybe I should have reworded my statement that I am not aware of any declaration from the Vatican on a change in its stance on apostolic succession of Old Catholic bishops. As far as I know, we still do recognise the the apostolic succession of Old Catholic bishops.

Unfortunately, GKC, Vatican still do not recognise the validity of Anglican orders, even though some provinces, at least, do hold to positions closer to Catholic doctrines than Old Catholic ones. But as you know that is historical - and a grevious wound on the body of Christ.

In my country, the threat of Islamisation has brought many Christian churches together, not just Cahtolics and Anglicans. And I am glad to say that Pentecostals, Protestants and Catholics are beginning to discover that we have more that unite us than divide us and this unity is needed for us to confront the Islamisation that is affecting the Christian Church. You know, when we have cross-denominational prayer sessions for our church and country, you can’t tell who is Catholic and who is not - except that some Catholics cross themselves after the prayer. Something to think about.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.