Saturday, March 1, 2014

What does the Roman Church have to say about the Old Roman Catholic Church? Part I


Old Roman Catholic Church
A Western Orthodox Christian Church 
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     Although the Old Roman Catholic Church does not depend on the recognition of the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly affirmed its recognition of the Old Roman Catholic Church.  See Addis and Arnold’s Roman Catholic Dictionary, which says of this Communion, “They have retained valid orders…We have been unable to discover any trace of heresy in these books,” [i.e. those books officially ordered for use in the Old Roman Catholic Church.]  A Catholic Dictionary, by Donald Attwater, bearing the imprimatur of the late Patrick Cardinal Hayes of New York, states of the Old Roman Catholic Church: “Their orders and sacraments are valid.”  Referring to the Old Roman Catholic Church in America, specifically Father Conrad Algermissen’s Christian Denominations, published in 1948, and bearing the imprimatur of the late John Cardinal Glennon of St. Louis (p. 363) says: “The North American Old Roman Catholic Church [has] received valid episcopal consecration.” 

     In fact, as far back as 1928, The Far East (January 1928, p.16), a publication of the Roman Catholic Columban Fathers of St. Columban’s, Nebraska, answered an inquiry concerning the validity of the orders conferred in the Old Roman Catholic Church.  The article mentions our late Archbishop Carfora (from whom many present Old Roman Catholic bishops derive their orders) favorably and states, “these orders are valid.” 

     The Old Roman Catholic Church is integral to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, having provable and unbroken succession of Orders from, and teaching the full Faith of the undivided Universal Church.  She adheres to the forms and formulae established by the early Church Fathers, in order to preserve for succeeding generations the deposit of Faith received from Our Lord and His Apostles. The Old Roman Catholic Church continues to provide for her Faithful, who wish to maintain the ancient doctrine and worship of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Holy Mass and Sacraments/Mysteries.

     Indeed the doctrinal position of the Old Roman Catholic Church has often been unknown or misunderstood by many who are not of this Communion.  There have been those who have deliberately distorted our theological and canonical position – for reasons known only to themselves.  To correct any misinterpretation of what we Old Roman Catholics believe, the Old Roman Catholic Church reaffirms that it holds and teaches the Orthodox Faith, especially as regards the first seven Ecumenical Councils. We maintain and teach the Orthodox Faith without any reservations.

     The Old Roman Catholic Church maintains the historical conciliar nature of the Church of Christ.  Although we are not in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, we acknowledge him as the historical Patriarch of the West, the Successor of the Apostolic See of the Church of Rome. 

What does the Roman Catholic Church have to say about the Eucharist, Penance and the Anointing of the Sick from clergy of the Old Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Polish National Catholic Church, the Old Catholics, etc.?

In accordance with the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, her faithful may receive the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick from non-Roman Catholic clergy who belong to particular Churches that retain valid sacraments and are therefore validly ordained. (see can. 844. par. 2; Decree on Ecumenism, 82). The Pastoral Companion, A Canon Law Handbook for Catholic Ministry, John M. Huels, JCD, Franciscan Press, 1995, 334-335, is very clear that this may occur as often as need requires it or true spiritual advantage recommends it, and if danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, the faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to go to a Catholic minister may receive the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick. 

Obviously, Catholics in union with the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) will receive from ministers of their respective Church (can 844, par. 1) but for those whom physical or moral constraints exist then the Roman Catholic Church acknowledges the other co-existing particular Churches of Apostolic Succession. 

Father Huels, JCD, author of The Pastoral Companion writes:

"The principal condition is that these sacraments can be received only from validly ordained ministers. These are ministers who belong to 'churches that have preserved the substance of the Eucharistic teaching, the sacrament of Orders and apostolic succession' (Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, communication, Oct. 17, 1973, AAS 65 [1973] 616; CLD 8: 471, no. 9). This would include all Eastern non-Catholic Churches, the Polish National Church, Old Catholics and Old Roman Catholics. Occasionally, a bishop in apostolic succession may validly ordain a priest, even if his Church is not recognized in this category. The valid ordination is necessary to have valid sacraments requiring the power of priestly order."

"A second condition is physical or moral impossibility of approaching a Catholic minister. Cases of physical impossibility would include any situations in which a person is unable to (physically, my emphasis) approach a Catholic minister as, e.g., when there is no Catholic church in the area. Moral impossibility means that a person is physically able to approach a Catholic minister, but cannot do so for some reason. For example, in a small town with only one Catholic priest, a penitent who knows the priest well does not wish to confess to him for fear of recognition."

"Another requirement is that of need or spiritual advantage. This can be interpreted broadly in keeping with the canonical axiom, 'Burdens are to be restricted; favors are to be multiplied' (Boniface VIII, De regulis iuris, rule 15).

Therefore, Catholics (Roman or otherwise) should never be afraid to come to us. The Roman Catholic Church acknowledges who we are for she cannot deny her own history and from which all of us (including the Roman Church) are derived, that is, from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ and passed on by the Holy Apostles. 

Do not live in fear of fear mongers! Be alive in the Orthodox Faith as we have received it. Come and See!

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