Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope (faith) without wavering,for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word] (Hebrews 10:23)
The Old Catholic or Independent Catholic Movement
The Old Catholic movement traces its history to the Utrecht Union in the Netherlands. The church began splitting apart from Rome in the 19th century over the appointment of bishops by the Pope, who had been previously elected from within each diocese. The split became final after Vatican I when Pope Pius IX claimed Papal Infallibility. The prior tradition, and that which is still held by Old Catholics, is that of “Infallibility of Bishops in General Council.”
The Old Catholic Church is associated with the Holy See of Antioch, which was founded by St. Peter as its first Bishop, and where the term "Christian " was first applied to believers and followers of Jesus Christ. The Old Catholic Church is part of the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. " The Bishops of the Old Catholic Church "hold and keep" Apostolic Succession.
The Old Catholic Church welcomes individual Roman Catholics, and other Christians, to participate in Communion and other Sacraments. Old Catholics believe in the "Real Presence" in the Eucharist; that the Bread and Wine, truly become the "Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity" of Jesus Christ.
Of particular concern to The Old Catholic Church is the offering of Sacraments to those who have left Catholicism for whatever reason, or those who are considered "displaced Catholics", and/or other Christians, who seek forms of worship and beliefs, founded in Sacred Scripture and the Traditions of the Catholic Church.
The Old Catholic Church
When members of the Roman Catholic Church encounter Old Catholic Churches for the first time, they are often surprised to learn that Catholic denominations exist apart from Rome. Understandably, questions are raised about the validity of Orders and Sacraments administered by Old Catholics.
"The Roman Church recognizes the validity of Old Catholic Orders and other Sacraments." -Felician A. Roy, OFM, Catholic Almanac - 1974; p. 368
“Dominus Iesus” At the Vatican on 16 June 2000, Pope John Paul II ratified and ordered the publication of "Dominus Iesus." This Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was signed and published by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) in August of the same year.
In this Declaration, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orders and Sacraments of Old Catholic denominations:
"The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Roman Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by Apostolic Succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.
Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church." -IV. Unicity and Unity of the Church, 17
Separated Brethren "We have no reason to doubt that the Old Catholic Orders are valid. The Apostolic Succession does not depend on obedience to the See of Peter, but rather on the objective line of succession from Apostolic sources, the proper matter and form, and the proper intention, likewise Old Catholic bishops are bishops in Apostolic Succession. The Old Catholics, like the Orthodox, possess a valid priesthood." -William J. Whalan, pp. 204,248
+Pope Francis (Vatican - October 30, 2014) Old Catholic Church members met with Pope Francis in the latest of a continuing ecumenical dialogue between the Old Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Francis explained that since the Second Vatican Council, "It has been possible to build new bridges of a more profound mutual understanding and practical co-operation, between the Old Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church". “There is a thirst for God”, the Pope stated. “There is a profound desire to recover a sense of purpose in life. There is an urgent need for a convincing witness to the truth and values of the Gospel”. He suggested that the two communions can “support and encourage one another, especially at the level of parishes and local communities”.