Old Catholicism

Old Catholicism, also commonly called the Old Catholic Church, refers to any groups of Western Catholic Christians who believe they belong to the true Catholic Church before it divided in 1869-1870 at the First Vatican Council. The primary issue that led to the split was over papal infallibility, which the Old Catholics rejected. The separatist churches formed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Moravia. These separatist churches remained independent until 1889 when the Union of Utrecht was formed, which declared a charter citing specific Old Catholic polity and doctrine. Five churches from different regions joined this Union. Within the Old Catholic churches, the primary authority is a council of bishops. Old Catholicism has an ecclesial structure similar to the Roman Catholic Church (excluding the position of pope) including dioceses with full participation of clergy and laity. The archbishop of Utrecht is an honorary position and does not carry the same authority as a pope or archbishops within other traditions. The Old Catholics recognize the first seven ecumenical councils as well as the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. They also accept the authority of the Bible. In spite of allowing liturgies to be performed in the vernacular languages of the people and optional celibacy among the priesthood within some churches, Old Catholicism is often characterized for its resistance to change and its unwillingness to accommodate modern innovations. The Old Catholics have also made strides in unification with other churches including full union with the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Quick Facts

Formed 1870s
Adherents 20,000
Deity God (Trinity)
Sacred Text Bible
Origin Holland / Germany
Headquarters None
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