Society of St. Mark/Old Roman Catholic Church

I happened to drive by a church the other day with a sign out front saying “Old Roman Catholic Church” and “Society of St. Mark.”

According to one of their websites, they received approval in the 1100’s to be an “independant” Catholic church (i.e. not under the pope). According to another of their sites, it seems that they broke with Rome in the late 19th century, possibly over the doctrine of papal infallibility, and that they view Eastern Orthodox as being more authentically “Catholic” than Roman Catholicism. Although they claim to be more traditional, they have some very non-traditional beliefs, such as married priests and female priests.

Can anyone provide me with more detail on this organization and truth behind their claims? Are they another organization like the SSPX with a valid but illicit priesthood?

Without any specific knowledge of the Society of St Mark I cab say this about the Old Roman Catholic Church. They trace their lineage back to about 1910 when they split from the Old Catholics. They, the Old Roman Catholics do not totally reject papal infallibility but do allow for unorthodox ordinations. As far as if their orders are valid it all depends on where they are traced to. Some are, some probably aren’t. Here is a link to their web site:

Well, I don’t know about this particular group but they likely pull their orders from the Archbishop of Utrecht who had a separation with the Pope awhile back. It was over an apparent illegal replacement of the Archbishop. Anyway, from what I understand their orders are considered valid but illicit.

The term Old Catholic originated to differentiate between those that held to pre-Vatican I doctrine (Old) and those still aligned with Rome who of course held to Vatican I doctrine.

Their liturgies tend to more traditional even the ones that are done in the vernacular still hold closely to the old Latin liturgy and rubrics. Some of these Old Catholic churches like the Liberal Catholic Church International are actually very tight about rubrics and such. To the LCCI the liturgy is the most important thing.

The Old Catholic movement though can range widely in theology. Some Churches being very conservative and some being very liberal. Some theology though is universal. The Old Catholic movement as a whole does not hold to the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception or to Papal Infallibility.

The Arch Diocese of Utrecht was already separated from Rome by the time of Vatican I so they apparently never held to those doctrines. After Vatican I some of the bishops and priests who objected the above doctrines and considered them “novel” aligned themselves with Utrecht so that they could have a continuation of their orders. This more or less started the Old Catholic movement. This is also how the Old Catholics have managed to retain validity in orders even if they are utilized illicitly.

Of course, this talk of valid and invalid orders only refers to the male priests. There is no such thing as a female priest.

Well they use the U word (i.e. Ultramontane)!


The Old Roman Catholic Church of North America (ORCCNA) is one of a multitude of Churches that traces its origins to the Old Catholic Church of the Utrecht Confession (or Utrecht Communion) from which it separated early in the 20th century. ORCCNA is among the most traditional of that ilk and can pretty accurately be described as an “Old Catholic-type” Church, since it essentially maintains the Old Catholic theological precepts under which it was founded. (The only Churches that are technically “Old Catholic” are those which maintain canonical affiliation with Utrecht - and there are none of those extant in the US.)

Last I knew, ORCCNA had not undertaken female ordination. Its line of apostolic succession includes several notable Old Catholic hierarchs whose episcopal validity is generally acknowledged, most particularly Dominque Marie Varlet, Geraldus Gul, Prince Rudolph Edouard de Landes Berghes, Arnold Harris Mathew, and Carmel Henry Carfora. ORCCNA’s presiding bishop, Francis Facione, is well-known and respected in Old Catholic circles.

Another of their hierarchs - Raphael John Adams - has been notable for some rather strident writing with regard to Roman Catholicism in recent years. This is an uncommon stance among the more traditional and conservative Churches in the Old Catholic-type genre - who generally speak kindly of Rome, albeit with no intent to be brought into its circle. To what extent Bishop Adams’ attitude reflects that of ORCCNA as an institution is open to debate.

Many years,


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