Old Catholics

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Related to Old Catholics: Old Roman Catholics, Old Catholicism

Old Catholics,

Christian denomination established by German Catholics who separated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church when they rejected (1870) the decrees of the First Vatican CouncilVatican Council, First,
1869–70, the 20th ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church (see council, ecumenical), renowned chiefly for its enunciation of the doctrine of papal infallibility.
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, especially the dogma of the infallibility of the pope. The Old Catholic movement began publicly with a meeting of professors at Nuremberg (1870) under the leadership of Johann Joseph Ignaz von DöllingerDöllinger, Johann Joseph Ignaz von
, 1799–1890, German theologian and historian, leader of the Old Catholics. Ordained in 1822, he was subsequently professor of church history and ecclesiastical law at the Univ.
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. By 1874, a new church had been established with a bishop consecrated by a Jansenist bishop (see under Jansen, CornelisJansen, Cornelis
, 1585–1638, Dutch Roman Catholic theologian. He studied at the Univ. of Louvain and became imbued with the idea of reforming Christian life along the lines of a return to St. Augustine.
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) of the Church of Utrecht, which had itself separated from Rome in an earlier (1724) schism considered to be a precursor of the Old Catholic movement. Church doctrines were codified by the Declaration of Utrecht (1889), which rejected communion with the pope and many Roman Catholic doctrines and practices; priests were allowed to marry and confession was made optional. Roman ritual was retained but was usually performed in the vernacular.

Old Catholicism spread to Switzerland and Austria and then to other nations, arriving in the United States as early as 1885. The Polish National Catholic Church of America, one of the most important early groups, was formed in 1897. Christ Catholic Church, established in 1968, is one of the newest. In 1990, U.S. membership in various Old Catholic churches numbered some 500,000. Other important Old Catholic groups include the Philippine Independent ChurchPhilippine Independent Church,
religious body that separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1902 and rejected the spiritual authority of the pope. It is known popularly as the Aglipayan Church, after its founder Gregorio Aglipay.
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, with approximately 3 million adherents, and the German Old Catholics, with some 24,000 members. The German church began ordaining women in 1996.


See K. Pruter and J. G. Melton, ed., The Old Catholic Sourcebook (1983).

References in periodicals archive ?
Three churches in dialogue with the Catholic Church--the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church of Greece, and certain Old Catholic Churches that are signers to the Union of Utrecht--are able to ordain women to the diaconate.
At least four Union of Utrecht Old Catholic Churches ordain women deacons and priests: the Old Catholic Churches in Germany (1996), (2) Austria (1998), the Netherlands (1998), and Switzerland (2002).
This was the background to the rise of the Old Catholics and the democratic liberal movements.
It can even be said that in some southern regions Popular Liberalism dominanted the school, the pub, the local voluntary association (Verein), and the Old Catholic church.
Old Catholics are so fragmented, making contact with them might not always be easy.
This discussion makes clear that neither the Old Catholic nor the Orthodox churches would be able to agree with the Roman Catholic Church on this particular aspect of infallibility.
14)This we find expressed in the following: "According to the teaching of the Orthodox and Old Catholic Church, all the decrees of later date therefore, which ascribe a monocratic and absolute authority over the whole church to the bishop of Rome and which regard him as infallible when he defines doctrine in the exercise of his office.
Yet Utrecht is vitally important to Old Catholics in one regard: It is seen as source and guarantor of apostolic succession, that unbroken line that, Catholics insist, must go back to Jesus and the apostles.
She figures that 600,000 Old Catholics nationwide is a conservative estimate.
Several authors recount actual examples of ecumenical-liturgical success, such as a common eucharistic prayer, intercommunion between Old Catholic and Anglican churches, experimental liturgies at the Kloster Kirchberg, and the practice of morning and evening prayer in local parishes.
leaders of the Old Catholic church, a German bishop of that denomination laid hands on two female deacons on May 27, ordaining them priests.
The story is that the Old Catholics, formed in the union of Utrecht of 1889 out of former Jansenists and opponents of Vatican I, injected a current of validity into the Anglican stream.