Friday, August 23, 2013

A Brief History of the Old Roman Catholic Church - Part IV

A Brief History of the Old Roman Catholic Church - Part IV

Old Roman Catholic Church

          This Communion is called “Roman” due to the line of her Apostolic Succession from the first century until 1739 being held in common with the Roman Catholic Church. The Church is “Catholic” because she is not confined to any one nation or place or time, teaching the same Faith once delivered by her Divine Founder, Jesus Christ to the Apostles. The Old Roman Catholic Church is Orthodox in matters of Faith expressed in a Western style of Liturgy and culture.

            The honest inquirer must be cautioned not to confuse our identity as Old Roman Catholics with those still in communion with the Union of Utrecht. Much which, in this age, calls itself Old Catholic represents some compromise with Protestantism, or, in a wider digression, with the non-Christian cult theosophy, bearing little resemblance to Orthodox Christian Faith. In 1870, the Reverend Dr. Ignaz von Dollinger solidified the Church's historic and consistent conciliarity in resistance to the created dogma of Papal Infallibility.  In 1873, the Old Roman Catholic Church of Utrecht was prevailed upon to provide the Old Catholics with a bishop.  In 1889, an amalgamation took place between the Church of Utrecht and the Old Catholics of the Utrecht Union, also known as the Old Catholics’ of the Continent.  Thus the Church of Utrecht laid the foundation for her subsequent fall into Modernism.  The Old Roman Catholic Church, through the 1910 Declaration of Autonomy[1]  is not in communion with such “churches.”

            Before the great See of Utrecht abandoned her historic position, God in His Divine Providence provided for the continuation of Old Roman Catholicism.  Though Utrecht was eventually to abandon Orthodox Christian Faith, the Church was not to perish.  Archbishop Gerard Gul of Utrecht consecrated Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew of England to the Episcopate on April 28, 1908 at the Cathedral of St. Gertrude at Utrecht when Utrecht was truly orthodox.[2]  At the time of Archbishop Mathew’s consecration at Utrecht, the Church of Utrecht had made no serious inroads away from Orthodox Christian Faith, nor had she yet departed in any way from Catholic culture and heritage. 

            By the end of 1910, however, the heterodox influence of the Old Catholics’ of the Continent had proved to be too much.  So great and far reaching were the changes which she was prevailed upon to make in her formularies and doctrinal position that, on December 29, 1910, Archbishop Mathew was forced to withdraw the Old Catholic Church in England from communion with Utrecht in order to preserve its Orthodoxy intact.[3]  Therefore it comes about that the ancient and glorious Church of Saint Willibrord and Saint Boniface has its continuation and perpetuation through the present Old Roman Catholic Church, which is compelled, in defense of Orthodoxy, to refuse to hold union with either Utrecht or the Old Catholics.

            The Apostolic Succession was conferred upon Prince de Landas Berghes St. Winok et de Rache by Archbishop Arnold Harris Matthew on June 29, 1912 in his chapel at London, England. It was Archbishop De Landas Berghes who was sent to America to establish the Old Roman Catholic Church in the United States. On October 4, 1916, Archbishop De Landas Berghes, in his domestic chapel at Waukegan, Illinois, consecrated Carmel Henry Carfora, as Perpetual Coadjutor with Right to Succession. Bishop Carfora was elected Archbishop of the United States and Canada on October 12, 1919 and Primate of all Old Roman Catholic Churches on March 19, 1923. The Apostolic Succession of the Old Roman Catholic Bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico was derived from Archbishop Carmel H. Carfora.

[1] Mathew, Archbishop Arnold Harris, Declaration of Autonomy, as quoted in Credo. (New York: iUniverse, Inc., 2005) 473-477.
[2] Moss, 300.
[3] Ibid. 304.

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