A History of
The Evangelical Catholic Church
The tradition of Independent Catholicism, although not well
known, especially in North America, extends back to the earliest
Christian Church. The Church, after the deaths of the Apostles was
composed of autocephalous Bishops; that is, independent Bishops, each
with his own Church and jurisdiction. Later, toward the close of the
second century, the diocesan church came into being where the Bishop had
under his authority several dependent churches, each of which was headed
by a Presbyter [Priest]. Yet even during this period the Bishops
remained independent of each other both in doctrine and in liturgy. The
only tie between these independent Churches was their participation in
Church Councils, which were regional or international meetings of
bishops to discuss matters of faith and morals, the most important of
which have become known as the Great or Ecumenical Councils.
Over time, these councils gave rise to a more unified
Church structure under the leadership of the Patriarchies, the most
influential of which were Rome in the West, and Constantinople in the
East. However not all validly consecrated Bishops accepted the claims of
supremacy of the Bishop of Rome or the Patriarch of Constantinople, or
agreed with all of the doctrines proclaimed by the various Councils.
Consequently there have always been Independent Rite Catholic Bishops
and clergy; who, although holding valid Apostolic Succession and Holy
Orders are not a part of the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox
The great majority of contemporary Independent Catholic
bishops and clergy in the West derive their valid succession from the
Old Catholic Churches of Europe. These Churches derive their succession
from the "Oud Katholieke" or Jansenist Church of Utrecht in the
Netherlands, which separated from Rome in AD 1724. The Old Catholic
Churches came into being at the time of the First Vatican Council in AD
1870. The primary issue that precipitated the foundation of these
Churches was opposition to the doctrine of papal infallibility
promulgated by the aforementioned Council. This doctrine asserts that
the Bishop of Rome, when speaking as supreme teacher and lawgiver of the
Roman Catholic Church on a matter of faith or morals is preserved by the
Holy Spirit from the possibility of error. After its proclamation, a
considerable number of Roman Catholic theologians, priests and lay
persons formed independent Catholic Churches in Germany, Switzerland,
Austria, and France; and in 1897 the National Polish Catholic Church was
established in the United States and Canada. Collectively, these
Catholic Churches outside of the jurisdiction of Rome have become known
as the "Old Catholic Churches."
Together with most major Independent Catholic Churches, the
Independent Evangelical Catholic Church has a strong and valid
Apostolic Succession derived from the Roman Catholic Church thus
allowing a valid and efficacious celebration of the traditional
seven sacraments. The Evangelical Catholic Church, which was canonically erected
on July 6, 1997, as well as most other Independent and Old Catholic
Churches acknowledges seven Great or Ecumenical Councils. These are: Nicaea I, AD 325, Constantinople I, AD 381, Ephesus, AD 431, Chalcedon,
AD 451, Constantinople II, AD 553, Constantinople III, AD 680, Nicaea
II, AD 787. The Independent Evangelical Catholic Church also
acknowledges the doctrinal teachings of the undivided Church prior to
the Great Schism of AD 1054.
As part of our pastoral reform efforts, the Evangelical
Catholic Church has eliminated the biased-based "traditional"
impediments to Holy Order. Secular Bishops, Priests and Deacons, who
have not opted to embrace the promise of celibacy, can exercise the
option to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage. In addition, candidacies
for Holy Order are now open to all qualified persons regardless of
gender, orientation, marital status or racial/ethnic background.
Candidacies for those with a vocation to enter into religious life are
also open to those without prejudice to their orientation, gender or
racial/ethnic background. Women religious may also, depending on the
charism of their community, enter into Holy Order.
The Evangelical Catholic Church has also implemented
pastoral reforms affecting the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.
Our Catholic Church has reformed the process of obtaining a Grant of
Dissolution, which would permit one who has been divorced to reenter the
Sacrament of Marriage without unnecessary emotional or spiritual trauma.
Our Catholic Church welcomes all couples wishing to enter into the
Sacramental Vocation of Marriage.
The Evangelical Catholic Church endorses the concept of
family planning and permits families, with the assistance of their
physicians, to practice medically supervised avenues to choose
appropriate times to bring children into their lives.
The intentions of the pastoral reforms of the Evangelical
Catholic Church are very simple. We wish to bring to the Lord's Table
ALL persons who have been denied their rightful place because of the
sins of social and theocratic prejudice.
Thus, we have committed ourselves to celebrating
Catholicism WITHOUT any sinful acts of exclusion and WITH complete and
unconditional inclusion. We are the Kingdom of God on Earth and the
catholic doctrine of social justice and peace demands that we celebrate
Catholicism as an inclusive community.
We invite you to come celebrate with us.