Constitution of the
Catholic Church in America
Prepared by Bishop Michael Callahan
Affirmed and Accepted by the Presiding Archbishop, The Most Reverend James Baladad
The Canons of the Catholic Church in America. — Revision: 0001 August 5th 2016
Canons of the Catholic Church in America Table of Contents
(Editorial note: Numbering conventions do not align with printed version)
- Founding Vision and Mission
- Canon Approval and Amendment:
- Canon 1 – Church Unity
- Canon Two — Accountability
- Canon Three — Ministry
- Canon Four — Archdioceses
- Canon Five — The Diocese
- Canon Six — The Parish
- Canon Seven — Worship
- Canon Nine — The Sacramental Ministry
- Canon Ten — Fundamental Right to Life
- Canon Eleven — Religious Orders and Communities
- Canon Twelve — Catholic Concord
- Appendix 1 – CCIA Crest Description
- Appendix 2 – Statement on Grace, Faith, and Works.
- Appendix 3 — Married Clergy and Episcopacy
- Appendix 4 — Divorce and Remarriage
- Appendix 5 – Human Sexuality
- Appendix 6 – The Role of Women in Ministry
Canons of the Catholic Church in America
These Canons guide the Catholic ministries affiliated and in communion with the Catholic Church in America.
Our founding vision is to form an organically American communion of Catholic and Apostolic Churches, which minister to the diverse cultures and communities that embody this nation. Additionally, our goal and purpose is to be a missional church, making manifest the Kingdom of God to the nations of the world and to express the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With Sacred Scripture and the traditions of the Church as our guide, we seek to experience the full nature of the living historic Catholic Church in its sacramental communion with a personal God, its charismatic joy in the Spirit, and its evangelistic zeal to share our blessed hope with all people. To those who seek a deeper experience of God in the sacraments, a more profound communion with His Spirit, spiritual growth, community with fellow believers, and service to a broken world, we the Bishops and Priests of the Catholic Church in America (here after referred to as the CCIA) do hereby present these Canons as a guide for our church. These Canons speak to the particular needs of our present ecclesiastical life and are to be observed under the loving care of our Bishops.
The distinctive mission of CCIA is threefold:
- First, we are to bear witness, and be a living active example of, the essential spiritual unity that exists among all the branches and cultures of Catholicism. Therefore, the CCIA is an ecclesial communion commissioned to affirm, recognize and pray for all the branches of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and to embrace the clergy and laity of these branches as true brothers and sisters of Christ’s One, Holy Church. In this, to be at least a prophetic pointer or prototype of unity in both an attitude of humility and charity, and in our works, worship and mission, that we may bear witness to that divine hope and calling, outwardly.
- Secondly, we believe we have been called to draw all Christians into the fullest expression of Christ’s church in the convergence of sacramental ministry, charismatic power and evangelistic zeal in order to most fully portray the face of Christ’s Church to the world.
- Finally, The American Catholic Communities have a very special heart for those Catholics who for many reasons have felt separated from their Catholic roots and are seeking a valid and authentic way to be Catholic in today’s world.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in Apostolic Succession under the Lordship of Jesus Christ with an Archbishop as a Chief Pastor shall serve the CCIA. Other offices of ministry are recognized, as described in these Canons, and the priesthood of all believers is to be exercised in the whole Church. Church Structure: The CCIA is governed by the College of Bishops, presided over by the Archbishop. A Diocese is presided over by a Diocesan Bishop. Each Diocese is composed of Parishes and/or Missions. Mission Districts and Deaneries may also be formed within or without a Diocese. Parishes and Missions, which may include Minor Orders and Lay Ministries, such as Catechists, Lectors, Lay Preachers, Lay Eucharistic Ministers and Pastoral Leaders, are presided over by a Priest, a Deacon or a Bishop. Mission Districts are presided over by an Auxiliary or Coadjutor Bishop, and Deaneries are presided over by a Dean.
Canon Approval and Amendment:
These Canons shall be approved by a majority of the Bishops of the CCIA and may subsequently be amended by a two-third (2/3) vote of the College of Bishops. The office of the Presiding Archbishop shall have the responsibility of adding supporting documentation and appendices to the book of canons as appropriate with or without the express approval of the College of Bishops.
Initial approval and ratification: Date: December 15th 2016
Signed: Juan Baladad, Presiding Archbishop
Canon One – Church Unity
- The CCIA is a body of Christian believers (jurisdiction/denomination) joined together under the principles of Christian Unity. We are under the Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, while at the same time submitting to the spiritual leadership and authority of our Presiding Archbishop, and Council of Bishops.
- It is of primary concern that the hierarchy of the CCIA maintains a spirit of collegiality, unity and mutual respect.
- We recognize that the independent and autocephalous nature of many modern jurisdictions is allowing for doctrinal error to into their practice of faith, leading to division and schism. The primary purposes of our vision of unity is to both preserve collegiality among our various communities and defend the deposit of faith that has been handed down from the apostles, fathers, and apologists since the beginning of the Church.
- While each CCIA diocese and parish possess a great deal of autonomy and independence, matters of Christian faith, doctrine, and morals are never to be left to private or pastoral interpretation.
- This ecclesiological principle of unity constitutes the basis of CCIA polity. According to this principle, the Church is one because her Head is the Lord Jesus Christ. This fact constitutes a basic tenet of our faith and refers to the spiritual unity, which permeates the Church. Although the Church is one, she is made up of numerous local churches whose boundaries usually coincide with those of the lands in which they exist. These same churches are furthermore administered independently of one another.
- Our regional dioceses and churches are administered independently, but our essential unity of the Church still remains intact. St. Paul speaks of this fact when referring to the Church as the Body of Christ. In so doing, he likens the indissoluble bond existing among the members of the Church to each other and the Lord Jesus Christ, to the relationship existing among the members of a living body to each other and its head.
- As reflected in the writings of the New Testament, the multiplicity of local churches can be traced to the very beginnings of the Christian era. Instructed by our Lord to teach all nations, the Apostles founded churches in which they instituted pastors to continue the work, which they had begun. These pastors were at the same time invested with the necessary authority to regulate the affairs of their churches in accordance with local needs, variations in non-essential matters not withstanding.
- The existence of numerous local churches administered independently and with a variety of otherwise non-essential cultural traditions applies only to the external organization of the Church. It does not hinder her inner spiritual unity. The inner spiritual unity which permeates the Church finds expression in the following:
A. a common confession of faith by the entire body of the Church,
B. participation in the same sacraments; and
c. submission to the same canons and ecclesiastical decrees.
- The teachings of the church fathers, as well as ecclesiastical practice, support the above. In one of his many epistles, St. Cyprian writes: “Christ established one Church, even though it is divided throughout the entire world into many parts. It is the same with the unity of the bishops, who, although many, constitute a unity due to the identity of their conviction”.
A. According to St. Irenaeus: “The overseers of the Church, to whom all the world is entrusted, vigilantly guard apostolic tradition, witnessing to us that all keep one and the same faith, that all profess the same Father, that all accept the same purpose of the incarnate economy, the same spiritual gifts; they make use of the same laws in the administration of the Church and in the execution of other ecclesiastical ministries.”
B. Finally, in his epistle to all bishops, St. Athanasios remarks: “The Catholic Church is one body, in compliance with the commandment in holy scripture to preserve a bond of concord and peace…”
- It is in this spirit, i.e., in the acceptance of Christ as Head of the Church and in the unity of all the bishops, that the unity of the Church is retained by the “overseers” of the local churches through the means which each particular church has determined. This is achieved mainly by the relations of the local churches among themselves. The purpose of these relations is not so much mutual accord on local issues, but rather a general consensus on issues concerning the entire Church.
- Relations among the local churches are especially important whenever issues of faith are raised. It is then that the unity of the Church is truly evident. When there is a need for the mind of the entire Church to be heard, the local church may take the initiative in raising the consciousness of this need. As a result, the response of all the hierarchy to the issue at hand is considered a decision of the entire Church. This is the practical way in which the unity of the Church is maintained.
- Another practical way, in which the unity of the Church is maintained, is through the mutual recognition of one another’s acts, in that they recognize each other’s sacraments as valid and licit. Consequently, one who is baptized in a local church is at the same time a member of all local churches and of the Church universal. On the other hand, one who has been excommunicated from a local church is at the same time in a state of excommunication from all the churches.
- Furthermore, the local churches must preserve intact legislation adopted by the CCIA, as well as customs and traditions emanating from the apostolic era. Such preservation refers not only to issues of faith and morality but also to issues of ecclesiastical discipline, order, and worship. It is only in this way that the unity of the Church can be upheld although there are many local churches. In the practical sphere, the CCIA recognizes the right of the local churches to exist independently of each other while they, in turn, preserve the unity of the Church according to mutually accepted principles.
- Such is the ecclesiological principle of unity and such is the canonical tradition of the Church. Corresponding to this principle and tradition is the territorial principle of the Church’s organization according to which there is one Church and one bishop in one place. Stated in another way, the principle of hierarchical unity and the unity of local jurisdiction affirm the belief that all members of the Body of Christ – the Church, wherever they may be, constitute one church body, headed by one bishop, through whom they are integrally united with the Church universal.
- The CCIA encourages collegiality among our clergy and laity through intercommunion activities that bring together our various Archdioceses, and local parish communities, in the form of annual clergy conferences and jurisdiction-wide retreats and conventions.
Canon Two — Accountability
- Background Checks
a. It is imperative to the work of God that all persons in active ministry are of the highest moral character. All individuals seeking ordination to holy orders, consecration to Episcopal office, or incardination into the CCIA must submit to a criminal background check.
b. Any Individual for which after due diligence and investigation, have been ordained or incardinated, and it is discovered that the facts as submitted were anything less than truthful will be subject to the invalidation of any orders or faculties obtained by false pretense.
c. Subsequent to ordination, persons who have been found to be in violation of criminal or canon law while serving in ministry may be disqualified or removed from serving in ministerial capacity at the discretion of the Presiding Archbishop or bishop immediate to the situation. Persons convicted of crimes involving sexual misconduct, while welcoming to and encouraged towards sacramental reconciliation are precluded from operating in ministerial roles that may require one-on-one, private interaction.
- Mandatory Reporters
a. All clergy and lay ministers are to be considered “Mandatory Reporters” when it comes to the subjects of sexual impropriety, or crimes involving minors. This requirement even extends to the area of confession. Pastoral care needs to be taken to relate to our faithful that though God is in the business of forgiveness and reconciliation, there may be a secular price to pay for our indiscretions and personal acts which violate the safety of or unlawfully harm our children.
b. Each jurisdiction is required to create a reporting plan of action, coordinated with their local municipality or county authorities.
- Correction and Grievance
a. In cases involving circumstances where “mandatory reporting” is indicated, the issue or incident must be reported to the proper civil authorities, which may vary from community to community.
b. The authoritative council or body immediate to the situation, and in consultation with the Bishop immediate to the situation shall administer the correction of communicants, Deacons, Priests, and Bishops.
c. The authoritative council immediate to the situation shall also hear grievances to the situation, with consultation with the Bishop immediate to the situation.
d. All corrections and grievances may be appealed to the next higher level of authority, and may, at that authority’s discretion, be entertained or dismissed.
Canon Three — Ministry
The Catholic Church has always relied upon various roles and offices of ordained and lay ministries. Each individual ministry has its own requirements and purpose. Jesus, in discussing ministry used the metaphor of “the body” with each member having its own sanctified purpose and function. The CCIA does not elevate people to ministry rolls without proper consideration or without a specific need. This is especially applicable to those inquiring into various Episcopal offices.
- Candidates for Ministry
a. Each candidate for holy orders or Episcopal office must actually work in or towards an actual diocese, parish office, or religious community.
b. In lieu of the above, candidates may submit a ministry action plan or other letter that outlines their ministry goals and objectives. This plan must be submitted along with all other documents required for consideration and approved by the bishop immediate to the situation.
- The Episcopal Office
All Bishops, including the Presiding Archbishop, shall labor together according to the spirit of local bylaws and Canons.
- The Presiding Archbishop
a. The Presiding Archbishop is appointed by the consensus of the College of Bishops. He serves for life, or until he retires.
b. Along with the College of Bishops, the Presiding Archbishop is primarily responsible for setting the vision for the CCIA, serving as a “servant of the servants of God” to the Archbishops, Diocesan Bishops, other clergy and laity of the CCIA.
c. The Presiding Archbishop may appoint Diocesan officers including Auxiliary and Coadjutor Bishops to assist him in the administration of his duties, but shall by no means diminish the pastoral responsibilities of his calling.
d.It is the prerogative of the Presiding Archbishop to appoint his successor.
e. In the event that the Presiding Archbishop passes without a successor, the Presiding Archbishop’s Coadjutor Bishop will assume the mantle of leadership until the time the Council of Bishops can nominate and elect a successor.
a. The duties of the Archbishop include:
i) The Archbishop shall be the first and foremost shepherd of the flock, maintaining the oversight of a parish, developing and initiating its vision and strategy, the said parish being recognized as the Cathedral of the Diocese.
ii) The setting of vision for the Archdiocese, serving as a “servant of the servants of God” to the Diocesan Bishops, other clergy and laity of the Archdiocese.
iii) The calling and oversight of meetings with the Bishops and other clergy of the Archdiocese for the purpose of spiritual nourishment, mutual edification and the implementation of the vision for the Archdiocese.
iv) Visiting the Dioceses of the Church for the purposes of:
(1) Holding pastoral consultations with the Bishops and, with their advice, with the Lay and Clerical leaders of the jurisdiction,
(2) Preaching the Word,
(3) Celebrating the Sacraments.
(v) The Archbishops shall have the authority to administer guidance and discipline over the bishops, in conformance with Holy Scriptures, apostolic tradition and these Canons of the CCIA
(vi) A major disciplinary action that would result in ordained clergy being removed from active ministry in the CCIA must be presented to the College of Bishops for ratification by two thirds (2/3) vote.
- Diocesan Bishops
a. The Diocesan Bishop shall be first and foremost shepherd of the flock, maintaining the oversight of a parish, developing and initiating its vision and strategy, the said parish being recognized as the Cathedral of the Diocese.
b. No one shall be consecrated Bishop unless he is a priest in the CCIA and is thirty years of age or older.
c. The clergy and laity of a diocese shall recommend to the College of Bishops their nominee for Bishop of the diocese in which the recommended Bishop shall serve.
d. Upon said recommendations, the recommended Bishop may be elected at a subsequent meeting of the College of Bishops, with the consecration following as determined by the College.
e. The Bishop may serve in his office for life, or until retirement.
f. A Bishop shall confine the exercise of such office to the Diocese in which elected, unless requested to perform episcopal acts in another Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority thereof, or unless authorized by the College of Bishops, or by his Archbishop, to act temporarily in case of need within any territories not yet organized into Dioceses of the Church.
- The duties of the office of Diocesan Bishop include:
a. The setting of vision for the Diocese, serving as a “father in the Lord” to the clergy and laity.
b. The calling and oversight of meeting with the Clergy of the Diocese, both publicly and privately, for their spiritual nourishment and mutual edification.
c. Serving in the College of Bishops.
d. Serving ex officio on all Parish Councils within the Diocese.
e. The ordination of priests and deacons.
d.The regular visitation of every parish in the Diocese for the purpose of:
i) The administration of the Sacraments,
ii) The preaching of the Word of God.
iii) The administration of the Diocese.
iv) The Bishop may appoint Diocesan officers to assist him in the administration of his duties, but shall by no means diminish the pastoral responsibilities of his calling.
- Auxiliary and Coadjutor Bishops
a. Auxiliary Bishops shall be nominated by Diocesan Bishops and elected by the consensus of the College of Bishops. The Auxiliary Bishop serves at the direction of a Diocesan Bishop and shall not possess the right of succession.
b. The Diocesan Bishop with the affirmation of the clergy and laity nominates coadjutor Bishops. Coadjutor Bishops are in all ways like Auxiliary Bishops, except they shall possess the right of succession.
c. The duties of Auxiliary and Coadjutor Bishops include:
i) The setting of vision for the Mission.
ii) The calling and oversight of meetings with the Clergy of the Mission, both publicly and privately, for their spiritual nourishment and mutual edification.
iii) Serving in the College of Bishops
iv) The administration of the Mission.
a. The candidate for Priesthood shall be a communicant in good standing in the CCIA, having reached the age of 24 years, and having completed the preparatory requirements for priesthood during a period of postulancy. (See requirements for ordination).
b. Before ordination to the Priesthood, there shall be submitted to the Diocesan Bishop a letter of application from the Candidate and a letter of recommendation from the priest(s) giving pastoral oversight during postulancy. The Candidate shall be recommended to the Bishop by Priests within the Diocese who attest to the call of God on the Candidate’s life and abilities to respond to the call.
c. The ministry of the Priest shall include:
i) Pastoral oversight of a Parish and/or other ministries.
ii) Administration of the Sacraments.
iii) Teaching and preaching the Word of God.
iv) Serving the Diocese by working closely with the Bishop in unity with other Priests and Deacons.
v) Pastoral oversight of those preparing for the Deaconate.
vi) A priest may serve in his ministry for life, until retirement.
a. The Candidate for the Diaconate must be a communicant, at least 21 years of age, and in good standing in the CCIA, having completed the preparatory requirements for the Diaconate during a period of formation.
b. The vocation of deacon is more a triangle than a direct relationship among bishop, priest, and deacon. As the deacon related directly to the bishop of a territorial diocese in earlier church history, so does the deacon relate directly to the pastor — the “bishop” — of the territorial parish in the present. Hence, the diaconate is not solely a stage through which celibate candidates for priesthood pass. It is also a permanent vocation for married and celibate persons, and we as a Church contend, women.
c. Before ordination to the Deaconate, there shall be submitted to the Bishop a letter of application from the Candidate and a letter of recommendation from the priest(s) or deacon(s) giving pastoral oversight during a period of formation.
D. The ministry of the Deacon includes:
i) Caring for the sick, poor and needy.
ii) Assisting the Priest or Bishop in the administration of the Sacraments.
iii) Teaching and preaching the Word of God.
iv) Assisting in Parochial administration.
- Candidacy for Holy Orders
a. Upon receipt of application for Holy Orders, the Bishop and at least two priests shall interview the applicant. Upon the acceptance of the application for Holy Orders, the Bishop shall admit the applicant to Formation, working closely with the Candidate to the order of Priest to develop and monitor a program of preparation for Holy Orders. The Bishop or a Priest or a Deacon may work closely with a Candidate to the order of Deacon to develop and monitor a program of preparation for Holy Orders.
b. Preparation for Holy Orders shall include theological training, practical experience, and spiritual formation, with pastoral guidance provided throughout the period of preparation, including criminal background check.
c. If the Candidate does not hold a baccalaureate degree, but has shown such proficiency in an occupation or profession as gives promise of usefulness in Holy Orders, the Candidate shall be required to obtain a baccalaureate degree, or to read for Holy Orders and pass an examination on essential Catholic practicum.
- Receiving Clergy from Other Christian Bodies
a. Non-Apostolic Succession
i) If a person ordained or licensed by another Christian body not in apostolic succession of Bishops should apply to the CCIA for Holy Orders, a Bishop and at least two priests shall interview said clergy, giving consideration to his knowledge of Scripture, theology, Church history, liturgy and practical pastoral experience.
ii) The Candidate having fulfilled the requirements of Candidacy, the Bishop may ordain the Candidate to the office to which he is called.
b. Apostolic Succession:
i) If a person ordained in apostolic succession should apply to the CCIA for Incardination, a Bishop and at least two priests shall interview said clergy. If the Candidate has met the requirements for ordination, his orders shall be received.
ii) The candidate in apostolic succession must submit a letter of release or excardination from their previous jurisdiction. In rare instances, extraordinary exceptions may be made to this requirement at the discretion of the bishop immediate to the situation.
iii) If the candidate has met the requirements for incardination, he may be received as a Candidate.
- Minor Orders and Ministries
a. Minor orders and Ministries including Catechists, Lector, Acolyte, Eucharistic Ministers, and Pastoral Leaders may be appointed by the pastor, with guidelines for the training and selection of such persons being established by the Bishop.
b. The ordained ministry is called chiefly to equip and lead the Church. The whole people of God are a royal and priestly company who offer to God the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving through the stewardship of their time, energy, money, and spiritual gifts. In all its life and work the CCIA shall encourage the ministry of the whole Church of God.
- Presiding bodies of Ministry
a. The College of Bishops
i) The College of Bishops is comprised of all active Bishops of the CCIA.
ii) The College of Bishops shall have jurisdiction throughout the CCIA
iii) The College of Bishops shall meet at least annually. The College of Bishops shall be led over by the Presiding Archbishop.
b. The Parish Council
i) The Parish Council is comprised of the Pastor of the Parish, and additional members appointed by the Pastor, or as directed by the by-Laws of the Parish.
ii) The Parish Council shall have jurisdiction over the parish in accordance with the by-laws of the local parish.
iii) The Parish Council shall meet at least annually.
iv) The Parish Council shall be presided over by the Pastor.
Canon Four — Archdioceses
An Archdiocese consists of all Dioceses in a defined geographic area and shall be under the direction of an Archbishop. The Archbishop, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons shall work together to establish and prosper God’s Church in the area of the Archdiocese.
- The formation of an Archdiocese
a. Additional Archdioceses may be formed when several dioceses have sufficient need to work together for the greater good of the Church.
b. An Archdiocese is formed by the consensus of the College of Bishops.
- The Archbishop
a, The Archbishop of an Archdiocese shall be elected by the College of Bishops from nominees submitted by the ordinary Bishops of the dioceses of the new archdioceses.
b. An Archbishop shall have oversight of the Archdiocese but shall also have particular leadership in the life of his Diocese and Parish.
c. The duties of the Archbishop include the pastoral care of the Diocesan Bishops within the Archdiocese, working closely with them to establish and implement the vision and work of the Church at both archdiocesan and diocesan levels.
d. The Archbishop shall be under the authority of the presiding Archbishop and the College of Bishops.
a. Archdiocese shall be funded from the Tithe of the Dioceses.
b. The Archdiocese shall tithe to the CCIA
- Record keeping
a. The Archdiocese shall present an annual report to the office of the presiding Archbishop based on the compilation of diocesan reports by April 30th.
Canon Five — The Diocese
A Diocese shall be formed within geographical boundaries established by the College of Bishops and shall be formed under the direction of a Diocesan Bishop. The Bishop shall chair the Bishop’s Council, and the Bishop, Priests and Deacons shall work together to establish and prosper God’s Church in the area of the Diocese. It is the goal of the CCIA that the Diocese shall be of such size and organization as to facilitate meaningful pastoral oversight of the Parishes and Clergy by the Diocesan Bishop.
- The Formation of the Diocese
a. Diocese shall be formed of Parishes and/or Missions within geographical boundaries established by the College of Bishops.
b. A Diocese may be formed from:
i) The whole or any part of one or more Missionary Districts.
ii) The division of an existing Diocese when such division would better facilitates the Ministries of the Church.
c. A geographic area may be designated a Missionary District with an Auxiliary or Coadjutor Bishop being appointed by the Diocesan Bishop until the development of sufficient Parishes and Missions to constitute the formation of new Dioceses.
d. Deaneries may be established within the Dioceses, with Deans being appointed by the Diocesan Bishop to administer oversight in his jurisdiction. The Deanery shall receive a portion of funds from the tithes of the Parishes to the Diocese, that portion being established by the Diocesan Bishop. A Dean shall be a Priest of that diocese.
- The Diocesan Bishop
a. The Bishop of the Diocese (also known as the Ordinary) shall not only have oversight of the many Parishes of the Diocese but shall have particular leadership in the life of his Parish.
i) The Parish of the Diocesan Bishop shall be recognized as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese.
ii) The Bishop is the ordinary authority on all matters of doctrine, worship, pastoral care, church order and discipline within the Diocese.
iii) The Diocesan Bishop shall be under the authority of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese in which the Diocese resides, and shall look to him for pastoral oversight and shared vision.
iv) No Bishop may perform Episcopal ministry in another Diocese without the express permission of the Diocesan Bishop.
i) The Diocese shall be funded from the tithe of member parishes and missions. The Diocese shall in turn tithe to the CCIA.
c. Record keeping
i) The Diocese shall present an annual report to the Archdiocese based on the compilation of Parochial Reports and including other information concerning Diocesan life.
ii) This report shall be delivered to the Archdiocese no later than March 31st.
Canon Six — The Parish
The Parish as the local expression of the CCIA shall consist of at least seven families who under the direction of the Bishop covenant to share in the life of the Diocese through worship, ministry, financial support and prayer.
- The Formation of the Parish
a. A Parish shall not have geographical boundaries and shall consist of all persons enrolled as communicants therein.
b. Any congregation desiring to be received into union with the Church shall declare its desire thereof, duly certified of said congregation by means of the Letter of Intent. This being done, it shall be at the discretion of the Bishop to admit the Parish into union with the Diocese as either a Mission or Full Communion Parish.
c. In the organization of a new Parish, the Parish shall be a Mission Parish for at least six months and maintain a membership of at least seven families.
d. The Parish shall begin tithing to the Dioceses upon beginning a formal relationship. Missionary Priests who serve Parishes that are not yet tithing shall personally tithe to the Diocese until the Parish begins tithing. The Diocesan Bishop will address unique situations individually.
- The Full Communion Parish
a. A new Parish having participated in the life of the Diocese for at least six months maintaining at least seven families and having covenanted to tithe to the Diocese from the tithes and general offerings collected, the Parish shall be received as a Full Communion Parish.
b. The reception of the Parish into Full Communion shall be witnessed by the visitation of the Bishop for the confirmation and/or reception of the communicants.
- The Calling of a Pastor
a. The Diocesan Bishop must approve the Pastor.
b.The Parish Council may submit their recommendation (if any) of a new pastor, looking to the Diocesan Bishop for fatherly direction and oversight.
- Ownership of Property
a. The ownership of the property of the Parish shall be determined by the Constitution and By-Laws of the local Parish.
- Parish Government
a. The Pastor of the Parish has full authority in all Parish concerns in conformance with the Holy Scriptures, Apostolic Tradition and the Canons of the CCIA as well as the Parish By-Laws.
- Parish Councils
a. The Parish Council shall function according to the By-Laws of the local Parish.
b The Pastor shall confirm new council members.
c. The Pastor shall be an ex officio member of the Parish Council.
d. The spirit of government in every Parish should be that of selflessness with the Clergy and other leaders working together in a spirit of Concord, a bonded community freely and generously consenting to the Lord’s leadership under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Record keeping
a. Parishes shall keep an accurate Parish Register, recording baptisms (with parentage, date of birth, sponsors or witnesses, date of the rite, etc.), confirmations, marriages, burials, number of communicants and other important information.
b. Parishes shall keep accurate records of financial contributions.
- Parochial Reports
a. It shall be the duty of every Pastor to deliver to the Dioceses a report of the preceding year including the following information:
i) Number of Baptisms.
ii) Number of Confirmations.
iii) Number of Marriages.
iv) Number of Burials.
v) Number of Communicants within the Parish.
vi) Treasure’s report for the past year.
vii) Other official acts.
viii) Other information concerning the state of the Parish life.
ix) The year reported shall be the calendar year.
x) The Diocese should receive the report no later than February 15th.
Canon Seven — Worship
Worship in the CCIA shall be liturgical, charismatic, and evangelical with suitable vestments worn by the Clergy.
a. The principal worship service in the CCIA shall be the weekly Celebration of Holy Eucharist on the Lord’s Day.
i) The service shall follow the shape of the historic liturgy of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
ii) The Eucharist shall be celebrated with the elements ordained by Jesus Christ himself, bread and wine.
iii) The Approved Rites of the Church include those found in the Anglican, Roman and Eastern Rites, and other traditional/historic rites, as approved by the Diocesan Bishop.
iv) In keeping with the spirit of the early church, the shape of the historic liturgy shall be followed, always maintaining “that blessed liberty where with Christ hath made us free.” We reject the introduction or use of any modern liberal liturgical revisions, which detract from the historic faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
v) The Clergy should wear vestments, which are suitable to an occasion of high praise. The normative attire for the principal Sunday service is:
(1) Priests: Alb and Stole
(2) Deacons: Alb and Stole or Cassock, Surplice and Stole.
(3) Celebrant: In addition to Priest’s attire, the Celebrant wears a Chasuble.
(4) Other forms of traditional vesture are suitable.
a. The worship offered to God in the CCIA is not only liturgical but also charismatic. As such, the worship event should lend itself to the activity of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the congregation. This includes freedom of prayer and praise, operation in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and regular prayer for the sick accompanied by the anointing of oil.
b. All worship music should bring glory to God. Recognizing the various backgrounds and cultures of the individual parishes, it is nevertheless desirable that the worship music should represent both the rich tradition of the historic faith and the contemporary expressions of praise.
Canon Eight — Doctrine
The CCIA adheres to the doctrinal unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first eleven centuries of its existence.
- The Authority of Holy Scriptures
a. The CCIA recognizes the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God.
b. The Holy Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition serve as the authority on all matters of faith and practice.
a. The essentials for Catholicity are:
b. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God are the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
c. The Apostles’ Creed as the Baptismal Profession and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
d. An Episcopate that must be able to trace its Apostolic Succession back to the Apostles.
e. The seven Sacraments of the historic Catholic Church are affirmed and practiced.
- The Spirit of Theology
a. There is a fine line between maintaining a strict adherence to traditional doctrine and polemic and losing sight of the spirit of the law. In light of the modern trends towards liberal theological interpretation, the CCIA takes a stand for traditional theological exegesis. As a people of God we stand with the Church historic in recognizing the bible as the inspired Word of God. We reject any biblical interpretation that suggests the words of Holy Scripture are nothing more that the words of men.
b. The CCIA recognizes that doctrine is not only intellectual assent but also, a living relationship with Almighty God and His Church.
c. It is incumbent upon the leadership of the CCIA to develop and maintain an atmosphere for growth and understanding in theology and doctrine, especially in the areas of human sexuality that are confronting modern culture to the point of impacting other mainline denominational churches.
d. We adhere to the classical statement of ecumenicity. “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” While celebrating the diversity within orthodoxy, we also strive to avoid a schismatic spirit which would elevate non-essentials or non-consensual beliefs and practices above the Father’s will that there be a spiritual and visible unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
e. See the Appendices for additional clarification on theological and doctrinal position statements.
Canon Nine — The Sacramental Ministry
The first rite of initiation into the church, which signifies the cleansing from original sin, and conferral of sanctifying grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Through the anointing with oil and the laying on of hands, the bishop or duly authorized priest confers the graces of the Holy Spirit upon a Christian. In receiving the Spirit, the Christian is strengthened with the gifts he will need to take on an adult role in the Christian community.
- Holy Eucharist
Holy Eucharist is the celebration through which we renew and participate in Christ’s birth, sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. During this celebration, we receive the Real Presence of the actual Body and Blood of Christ, given to us under the forms of bread and wine for our spiritual nourishment.
a. The practice of the CCIA is that all baptized believers are welcomed to the Table of the Lord.
b. Pastoral guidance and catechesis is essential in advising parishioners regarding the nature of the sacrament – “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let each person examine their self, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon them self.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
We acknowledge that a sincere prayer of sorrow to our God will bring the response for His forgiveness. We also believe that Christ left us a special sacrament, which is a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ and His loving forgiveness. Also called the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Penance can be celebrated in two ways:
a. Individual absolution is usually preceded by a Christian’s confession of personal sins. The priest’s prayer of forgiveness or absolution is said for each sincere penitent, at which time his additional gift of grace is imparted.
b. General Absolution is sacramental absolution, given once to a large number of people, especially when the number of penitents is too great to allow for individual confession of sins.
- Sacrament of the Sick
The Sacrament of the Sick consists of the anointing of sick members of the Christian community with oil and prayers for their healing and forgiveness. The effects of this sacrament are strength and peace for the Christian in the face of his illness, physical healing and recovery according to God’s will.
- The Sacrament of Matrimony
Marriage is understood as a permanent covenant between a baptized man and a baptized woman, is a sacrament of the Church. As a covenant, marriage is a lifelong, permanent commitment, embodying obligations that transcend the immediate feelings or wishes of the husband and wife. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, Christ himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. Recognizing the nearly complete breakdown of moral norms in this society, the Church understands that many persons will come to her having experienced the tragedy of divorce. It is the commitment of the Church and her bishops, in every case, to work toward the healing and restoration of the marriage covenant.
- Holy Orders
This Is the Sacrament through which the Church sets aside people for the special service of ministry to the Christian community. This sacramental act is called ordination. There are three ranks or major orders in the ministry of the Church. They are: Deacon, Priest, and Bishop
Canon Ten — Fundamental Right to Life
The rights of each human being flow from their transcendent dignity as creatures made in the image and likeness of God. Certain fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person precede those of society. Societies and cultures must recognize that these rights – foremost the right to life – have their foundation in God and are not derived from, nor subject to, the civil order.
- Life, the Primary Human Right
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his/her existence, a human being must be recognized, as having the rights of a person among which, is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. (Jer. 1.5; Ps. 139.15).
- Spirit of Love and Forgiveness
Converts and other persons with previous involvement in the tragedy of abortion must be met with open arms in the love and forgiveness of Christ. Pastoral care must be wisely and carefully applied in these cases with the goal of leading these persons through the sacrament of reconciliation to full communion with the faithful.
Euthanasia is morally wrong. Thus an act or omission Euthanasia itself, or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering, constitutes a murder, gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, the Creator.
Canon Eleven — Religious Orders and Communities
Religious Orders and Communities may be established and maintained according to the approval of the Archbishop and under the direction of a Bishop Visitor or Protector.
- Religious Orders
a. A Religious Order of this Church is a society of Christians in communion with the Archbishop who voluntarily commits themselves for life or a term in years.
b. To obedience to their Rule and Constitution.
c. A Religious Order in order to be recognized must have at least six professed members and must be approved by the Archbishop.
d. The Bishop Visitor or Protector shall be the guardian of the Constitution of the Order and shall serve as an arbiter in matters in which the Order or its members cannot resolve through its normal processes.
e. Any person(s) under vows in a Religious Order, having exhausted the normal processes of the Order, may petition the Bishop Visitor or Protector for dispensation from those vows.
d. The Religious Orders shall tithe to the Bishop Visitor or Protector.
Canon Twelve — Catholic Concord
In obedience to the call of our Lord to Christian unity the CCIA seeks to have dialogue and fellowship with all Christian bodies everywhere and to enjoy intercommunion with those bodies, which hold to the Catholic Faith, both domestically and abroad.
Coat of Arms of the Catholic Church in America
The upper portion of the arms shows a bishop’s miter and stole, which is symbolic of our hierarchical and ecclesiastical communion, which is under the apostolic headship of our Presiding Archbishop
The main body of the arms is composed of four quadrants with the colors “Red, White and Blue, uniquely locating us as a jurisdiction founded in the United States of America:
- The upper right quadrant depicts an antique oil lamp on a field of white, which is a traditional symbol for knowledge and learning. In usage here we pledge to be a body of believers who are faithful to the deposit of faith that has been passed down through the millennia.
- In the upper left quadrant, there is an image of a white dove on a field of blue, which in traditional Christian usage, represents the Holy Spirit. We place this image on our arms to remind us that it is the Holy Spirit of God that empowers us for our ministry.
- The bottom left quadrant we have the image of a crown on a field of white. This crown represents the sovereignty of Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, under who’s Headship we humbly submit.
- In the bottom left quadrant is a stylized image of a cross on a field of red. This cross is composed of four people, one on each point of the image. This is to symbolize both our calling to evangelism, but also to indicate that we are a multi-cultural community of believers.
Statement on Grace, Faith, and Works
In many ways, salvation is a mystery. When does it happen, is there a particular prayer that must be said. What is the relationship between “grace,” “faith,” and “works?” Can you lose your salvation or fall from grace?
Catholics have always believed that both grace and faith are essential elements, which lead us into a relationship with God. Grace is that supernatural push or encouragement, which prompts our conscience to make that leap of faith. Grace is transient. It doesn’t live in the soul, but acts on the soul from the outside, so to speak. It’s a supernatural kick in the pants. It gets the will and intellect moving so we can seek out and keep working towards sanctifying grace.
There are few more confusing topics than salvation. Catholics even have a fancy name for the study of the theology surrounding the subject – “Soteriology.” Soteriological studies go way beyond the standard question posed by our evangelical brothers and sisters
— “Have you been saved?” When posed to a Catholic Christian, the question generally means is: “Don’t you wish you had the assurance of salvation?” Most Protestants and Evangelical Christians think they do have such an absolute assurance, that with a simple, one-time “prayer of faith” or “sinner’s prayer,” their “salvation” is locked in, once and for all time.
All they have to do is “accept Christ as their personal Savior,” and it’s done. They might well live exemplary lives thereafter, but living well is not crucial and definitely does not affect their salvation.
Soteriology, or the theology of Salvation, views the entire Bible as salvation history. From Genesis to Revelation we have a record of God’s dealings with mankind, and His plan for us, which were set in motion before the foundations of the world. A few salient points are consistent across both the new and old covenants: Sin separates is from God, and God has a plan for us to be reconciled unto him.
Are you “born again” as Jesus instructed Nicodemus? Though Catholic polemic rarely utilizes this term, we do believe the validity of the question. Catholic theology does not have a problem with the phrase. However, we do have some concerns regarding how the term is applied in some Christian circles, and subsequent implications on our lives lived in faith.
Many well-known Pentecostal televangelists from the “Word of Faith” wing of Protestantism assert that the assurance of salvation comes through being “born again”: “Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Though much of Word of Faith theology is considered bizarre in Protestant circles, this explanation of being born again could be endorsed by millions of Evangelical Protestants. In Kenneth E. Hagin’s booklet, The New Birth, he writes, “The new birth is a necessity to being saved.
Through the new birth, you come into the right relationship with God.”
According to Hagin, there are many things that this new birth is not. “The new birth is not: confirmation, church membership, water baptism, the taking of sacraments, observing religious duties, an intellectual reception of Christianity, orthodoxy of faith, going to church, saying prayers, reading the Bible, being moral, being cultured or refined, doing good deeds, doing your best, nor any of the many other things some men are trusting in to save them.” Those who have obtained the new birth “did the one thing necessary: they accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior by repenting and turning to God with the whole heart as a little child.” That one act of the will, he explains, is all they needed to do. But is this true? Does the Bible support this concept?
Scripture consistently teaches that one’s final salvation depends on the state of the soul at death. As Jesus himself tells us, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13; cf. 25:31–46). One who dies in the state of friendship with God (the state of grace) will go to heaven. The one who dies in a state of enmity and rebellion against God (the state of mortal sin) will go to hell.
For many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals it makes no difference—as far as salvation is concerned—how you live or end your life. You can heed the altar call at Church, announce that you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, and, so long as you really believe it, you’re set. From that point on there is nothing you can do, no sin you can commit, no matter how heinous, that will forfeit your salvation. You can’t undo your salvation, even if you wanted to.
Does this sound too good to be true? Yes, but nevertheless, it is something many Protestants claim. Take a look at what Wilson Ewin, the author of a booklet called There is Therefore Now No Condemnation, says. He writes “the person who places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his blood shed at Calvary is eternally secure. He can never lose his salvation. No personal breaking of God’s or man’s laws or commandments can nullify that status.”
“To deny the assurance of salvation would be to deny Christ’s perfect redemption,” argues Ewin, and this is something he can say only because he confuses the redemption that Christ accomplished for us objectively with our individual appropriation of that redemption. The truth is that in one sense we are all redeemed by Christ’s death on the cross—Christians, Jews, Muslims, even indigenous peoples in the darkest forests (1 Tim. 2:6, 4:10, 1 John 2:2)—but our individual appropriation of what Christ provided is contingent on our response. Christ died, once and for all, but like any gift, it must be opened and put to use or it is of no effect.
Certainly, Christ did die on the cross once for all and has entered into the holy place in heaven to appear before God on our behalf. Christ has abundantly provided for our salvation, but that does not mean that there is no process to which this is applied to us as individuals. Obviously, there is, or we would have been saved and justified from all eternity, with no need to repent or have faith or anything else. We would have been born “saved,” with no need to be born again. Since we were not, since it is necessary for those who hear the gospel to repent and embrace it, there is a time at which we come to be reconciled to God. And if so, then we, like Adam and Eve, can become unreconciled with God and, like the prodigal son, need to come back and be reconciled again with God, after having left his family.
Can You Lose Heaven?
Ewin says that “no wrong act or sinful deed can ever affect the believer’s salvation.
The sinner did nothing to merit God’s grace and likewise, he can do nothing to demerit grace. True, sinful conduct always lessens one’s fellowship with Christ, limits his contribution to God’s work and can result in serious disciplinary action by the Holy Spirit.”
One problem with this argument is that this is not even how things work in everyday life. If another person gives us something as a grace—as a gift—and even if we
did nothing to deserve it (though frequently gifts are given based on our having pleased the one bestowing the gift), it in no way follows that our actions are irrelevant to whether or not we keep the gift. We can lose it in all kinds of ways. We can misplace it, destroy it, give it to someone else, and take it back to the store. We may even forfeit something we were given by later displeasing the one who gave it—as when a person has been appointed to a special position but is later stripped of that position on account of mismanagement.
The argument fares no better when one turns to Scripture, for one finds that Adam and Eve, who received God’s grace in a manner just as unmerited as anyone today, most definitely did demerit it—and lost grace not only for themselves but for us as well (cf. also Rom. 11:17-24). While the idea that what is received without merit cannot be lost by demerit may have a kind of poetic charm for some, it does not stand up when compared with the way things really work—either in the everyday world or in the Bible.
Regarding the issue of whether Christians have an “absolute” assurance of salvation, regardless of their actions, consider this warning Paul gave: “See then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off” (Rom. 11:22; see also Heb. 10:26–29, 2 Pet. 2:20–21).
Can You Know For Certain?
Aside from the Gospels, the remaining texts of the New Testament were written to individual communities of believers. There are countless admonitions and warnings to believers to remain faithful to that which had been handed down to them in both writings and by word of mouth.
Related to the issue of whether one can lose one’s salvation is the question of whether one can know with complete certainty that one is in a state of salvation. Even if one could not lose one’s salvation, one still might not be sure whether one ever had salvation. Similarly, even if one could be sure that one is now in a state of salvation, one might be able to fall from grace in the future. The “knowability” of salvation is a different question than the “lose-ability” of salvation.
Places, where Scripture speaks of our ability to know that we are abiding in grace are important and must be taken seriously. But they do not promise that we will be protected from self-deception on this matter. Could there be a false assurance? “The New Testament teaches us that genuine assurance is possible and desirable, but it also warns us that we can be deceived through a false assurance. Jesus declared: ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 7:21).”
Oftentimes Protestants portray Catholics as if they must every moment be in terror of losing their salvation since Catholics recognize that it is possible to lose salvation through mortal sin. Protestants then hold out the idea that, rather than living every moment in terror, they can have a calm, assured knowing that they will, in fact, be saved and that nothing will ever be able to change this fact.
But this portrayal of the Catholic faith is inherently flawed. Catholics do not live lives of mortal terror concerning salvation. True, salvation can be lost through mortal sin, but such sins are by nature grave ones, and not the kind that a person living the Christian life is going to slip into committing on the spur of the moment, without deliberate thought and consent. Neither does the Catholic Church teach that one cannot have an assurance of salvation. This is true both of present and future salvation.
A person can be confident of one’s present salvation. This is one of the chief reasons why Apostolic Tradition passed on to us the concept of Sacramental Theology — to provide visible assurances that he is invisibly providing us with his grace. And we can be confident that one has not thrown away that grace by simply examining one’s life and seeing whether they have committed a mortal sin. Indeed, the tests that John sets forth in his first epistle to help us know whether we are abiding in grace are, in essence, tests of whether we are dwelling in grave sin. For example, “By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10), “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20), “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Likewise, by looking at the course of one’s life in grace and the resolution of one’s heart to keep following God, one can also have an assurance of future salvation. It is this Paul speaks of when he writes to the Philippians and says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). This is not a promise for all Christians, or even necessarily all in the church at Philippi, but it is a confidence that the Philippian Christians, in general, would make it. The basis of this is their spiritual performance to date, and Paul feels a need to explain to them that there is a basis for his confidence in them. Thus he says, immediately, “It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (1:7). The fact that the Philippians performed spiritually by assisting Paul in his imprisonment and ministry showed that their hearts were with God and that it could be expected that they, at least in general, would persevere and remain with God.
There are many saintly men and women who have long lived the Christian life and whose characters are marked with profound spiritual joy and peace. Such individuals can look forward with confidence to their reception in heaven.
Such an individual was Paul, writing at the end of his life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). But earlier in life, even Paul did not claim an infallible assurance, either of his present justification or of his remaining in grace in the future. Concerning his present state, he wrote, “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby justified [Gk., dedikaiomai]. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Cor. 4:4). Concerning his remaining life, Paul was frank in admitting that even he could fall away: “I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). Of course, for a spiritual giant such as Paul, it would be quite unexpected and out of character for him to fall from God’s grace. Nevertheless, he points out that, however much confidence in his own salvation he may be warranted in feeling, even he cannot be infallibly sure either of his own present state or of his future course.
The same is true of us. We can, if our lives display a pattern of perseverance and spiritual fruit, have not only a confidence in our present state of grace but also of our future perseverance with God. Yet we cannot have an infallible certitude of our own salvation, as many Protestants, will admit. There is the possibility of self-deception (cf. Matt. 7:22-23). As Jeremiah expressed it, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). There is also the possibility of falling from grace through mortal sin, and even of falling away from the faith entirely, for as Jesus told us, there are those who “believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13). It is in the light of these warnings and admonitions that we must understand Scripture’s positive statements concerning our ability to know and have confidence in our salvation. The assurance we may have; infallible certitude we may not.
For example, Philippians 2:12 says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is not the language of self-confident assurance. Our salvation is something that remains to be worked out.
Regarding “Works Based Salvation”
The Catholic Church has never taught such a doctrine and, in fact, has constantly condemned the notion that men can earn or merit salvation. Catholic soteriology is rooted in apostolic Tradition and Scripture and says that it is only by God’s grace– completely unmerited by works, that one is saved.
The Church teaches that it’s God’s grace from beginning to end, which justifies, sanctifies, and saves us. As Paul explains in Philippians 2:13, “God is the one, who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.”
Notice that Paul’s words presuppose that the faithful Christian does not just desire to be righteous, but is actively working toward it. This is the second half of the justification equation, which Protestants often either miss or ignore.
In James 2:17 we find that “faith of itself if it does not have work, is dead.” In verse 24 James says, “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” And later: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (2:26).
In what has become know as the Counter-Reformation Council of Trent, the Church at that time harmonized the necessity of grace and works: “If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or by the teaching of the Law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema” (Session 6; can. 1).
The Council fathers continued by saying, “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema” (Session 6: can. 9).
What To Say
“Are you saved?” asks the Evangelical Protestant. The Catholic should reply: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”
When it is suggested that you’re relying on a “works-based” salvation, the Catholic should confidently reply with the words of the Apostle Paul: “For [it is] by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Married Clergy and Episcopacy
The calling to the priesthood is one of discernment for both married and unmarried persons. We recognize that there are advantages that both married and celibate clergy offer to the life of the Church. Those who are contemplating Holy Orders must prayerfully consider the path they are choosing.
It is clear from all extant literature, biblical, apostolic, patristic and consular, that the sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders have never been mutually exclusive. There is ample evidence from the historical record that since apostolic times there has always been married clergy. From deacons on up to popes, the sacrament of holy matrimony was not grounds to prevent men of faith from accepting holy orders or advancement to advanced ecclesial rank in the Church historic.
The CCIA Church stands with the Orthodox Churches in affirming the tradition of calling qualified men to the sacrament of Holy Orders regardless of their marital status. The doctrine and practice of the ancient Church can be fittingly quoted in the words of the Rev. John Fulton in the introduction to the Third Edition of his Index Canonum [p.29, NY, 1892]. He says, “Marriage was no impediment to ordination even as a Bishop; and bishops, Priests, and Deacons, equally with other men, were forbidden to put away their wives under pretext of religion.” [p.365, Vol. XIV, The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church.
Canon Thirteen — Divorce and Remarriage
The Church has always been involved in the work of healing and reconciliation. The Lord Jesus made no distinction between either physical or emotional healing. We as the Church of God are called by our Lord Jesus to bring healing and reconciliation to a broken and divided world. This sense of love and compassion must be extended to those faithful who experience the sting of divorce and subsequent remarriage.
For many churches, divorce is “the unforgivable sin,” forever separating Christians from Church and sacrament. We recognize that divorce is a major trauma for all who experience it, whether we speak of the spouses or the children of a family. While the ideal is to avoid divorce, and that spouses be reconciled with one another through the grace of God, we are aware of its reality and ask God to heal our hearts when they have been broken by this reality.
Saint Paul, the apostle, in his epistle to the church at Rome, asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Too often, however, it is the church itself, which provides the answer. At the precise time when we have been broken and made vulnerable by the experience of divorce, our misery is compounded by a sense of condemnation by our Christian church. It is not the healing voice of Jesus we hear, like the Samaritan woman at the well in John’s gospel, but rather it is the voice and weight of law and the judgment of church leaders, which confront us and add to our grief. It is apparent that those who have divorced and remarried are in greater need of the sacramental life of the Church.
We join our Eastern Christian brothers and sisters in an ancient tradition of supporting those who have remarried by counseling them to now reflect upon all that has passed and to grow in all that will come during their new marriage. Such growth can only be successful in union with the sacramental life of the Church and in the Church’s teaching on the life of prayer and the excellent way of love as taught in the Holy Scriptures and practiced by faithful families. To deny the gift of sexual union to those who have remarried is to destroy rather than to support the success of a remarried couple. Sexuality is a source and a celebration of love between husband and wife. It is a special and secret place, which allows intimate sharing. It is the measure of a healthy relationship between two individuals who are of the age and health to share in this manner.
Rather than condemnation and separation from Church and sacrament, compassionate guidance and loving support are the appropriate responses, which clergy and laity should offer. The strength of the Church depends upon the strength of our families, whether those families are formed by an original marriage or by a subsequent remarriage.
Both those who are divorced and remarried deserve to find prayerful support from their faith community. Our hope and our dream is that of wiping away every tear with the grace of the risen Christ, and celebrating the love of God as it exists between husband and wife, parent and child, our brothers and sisters of the Christian community, and between all of the human family. Every family is valuable and every marriage deserves support for its emotional, sexual, and economic stability.
God created us as people with an affinity for sexual attraction. We see in the book of Genesis that God Created us “male and female.” We find in scripture God’s ideal plan for sexual intimacy in the marriage of a man and a woman. Sexual relations outside of the bounds of matrimony has, since the beginning of time been considered sin.
In the greater part of society, both in developed and developing countries, the decline of traditional models of morality has engendered a sense of confusion among the faithful, things that were considered “truth” and “good,” are now considered something different. Moral relativism is, in the modern culture taking the place of traditional biblical values and understanding. This new context is made worse by what we observe: an eclipse of the truth about humanity, which, among other things, exerts pressure to reduce sex to something commonplace. In this area, society and the mass media, most of the time provide depersonalized, recreational and often pessimistic information. Moreover, this information does not take into account the different stages of formation and development of children and young people, and it is influenced by a distorted individualistic concept of freedom, in an ambiance lacking the basic values of life, human love, and the family.
Love is a gift of God that is to be nourished by and expressed in the encounter of a man and woman. Love is thus a positive force directed towards our growth in maturity as persons. In the plan of life which represents each person’s vocation, love is also a precious source for the self-giving which all men and women are called to make for their own self- realization and happiness. In fact, we are called to love as an incarnate spirit, that is soul and body in the unity of the person. Human love hence embraces the body, and the body also expresses spiritual love. Therefore, sexuality is not something purely biological, rather it concerns the intimate nucleus of the person. The use of sexuality as physical giving has its own truth and reaches its full meaning when it expresses the personal giving of man and woman even unto death. As with the whole of the person’s life, love is exposed to the frailty brought about by original sin, a frailty experienced today in many socio-cultural contexts marked by strong negative influences, at times deviant and traumatic. Nevertheless, the Lord’s Redemption has made the positive practice of chastity into something that is really possible and a motive for joy, both for those who have the vocation to marriage (before, at the time of preparation, and afterwards, in the course of married life) as well as for those who have the gift of a special calling to the consecrated life.
In light of the above, we stand with the traditional Christian understandings of human sexuality: God created two genders — male and female
With as much gentleness as can be presented, we affirm both traditional understanding of scripture and modern scientific study in this matter. Social and political pressure on this matter will not change the fact that persons who have sexual identity issues (Gender Dysphoria) are in some manner, either mentally or physically challenged and experiencing great difficulties adjusting to their genetic gender. The role of the Church is to share the love of Jesus Christ with these individuals, not offer condemnation.
The act of sexual sharing was created by God to be reserved for the exclusive purpose of sharing between a husband (male) and wife (female), within the bond of holy matrimony. Vanity of vanities, there is nothing new under the sun. In their own vanity, each generation thinks that they have somehow evolved intellectually beyond their predecessors. Modern political activists claim, “The authors of the Bible did not understand sexual orientation.” This thought process relegates the Bible to being nothing more than the words of man, rather than how we believe — the inspired Word of God.
In the context of Christian morality, sexual intercourse outside of the above parameters has always been considered sin. All men and women are called to live a chaste life, abstaining from sexual activity unless it is in the context of a man and woman joined together in the life bond of marriage, or within the vows in accord with a consecrated religious life, either within the community or otherwise.
In this understanding of sin, we make no special distinction between gender and so-called sexual orientation.
Our modern times of mixed messages from both culture and other more liberal churches, pastors are presented with difficulties that must be met with love, compassion, and proper catechesis, especially in their homiletics, and pastoral counseling.
It is of special concern to pastors and all the faithful to create an environment where “all are welcome.” Each and every human person has fallen short of God’s ideal. None of us are worthy of God’s grace and redemption. However, while we were yet sinners, Jesus offered himself upon the cross for our salvation! Though we don’t celebrate or condone any sin, we must become a people who provide a safe place for every person to seek God and find the peace that passes all understanding, being reconciled to Him.
The Role of Women in Ministry
It is the intention of this article to affirm the intrinsic dignity, love and respect the church has for women, and to make known that the CCIA as a Catholic/Christian Communion values women in a wide variety of ministry roles.
While it is never prudent for the Catholic Church to create doctrine out of whole cloth, or to modify traditional teachings based upon cultural trends or pressure from those insisting on politically correctness, the CCIA recognizes that the history of the Catholic Church gives ample evidence of the ministry of women, not limited to, but especially in regards to the office of Deacon. Many women in scripture are referenced to as ministers in the ancient Church and are recognized as such. St. Paul calls one of these women, Phoebe, a deacon of the Church (Romans 16:1-2). Her title and her legacy are the foundation of the modern discussion about the ministry of women, much of which centers on the ordination and certification of women ministers.
Over the centuries the Roman Catholic Church seems to have succumbed to the political-cultural pressure of to deny the traditional dignity and value of women in ordained ministry. In the Catholic Church, the history of women’s ordination has become clouded, except in some Eastern Churches. While many mistakenly think of the Catholic Church as only the Church of Rome — the Roman Catholic Church — there are many Eastern Churches and an unknown number of Churches in the “Old Catholic” tradition with a deep history of the sacramental ordination of women to the ministry of the diaconate.
While Roman Catholicism has traditionally spoken to the equality of all persons, it specifically limits persons according to gender and carte blanche refuses women clerical status, and the consequent ability to hold any clerical office. The Roman Church conveniently forgets that in Christ Jesus “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The CCIA recognizes that this was not always the case, and argues this through the history of ancient rituals and practice. In this matter, the CCIA presents our affirmation of essential dignity and value of women in the ordained ministry, despite the denial, which has been echoed in the unfortunate history of the status of women in Western civilization.
Ordination – Holy Orders
Ordination is one of seven sacraments recognized by the universal Church. While in modern times ordination has been restricted to men, this has not always been the case. Women were ordained deacons up until the fifth century in the West and up to the 11th century in the East. Women have been ordained up to modern times, even to the present, in some of the Churches of Orthodoxy that separated from Rome in 1054, or Churches of the Old Catholic that separated as a result of innovations introduced at the First Vatican Council in 1868.
My research into the restoration of the ancient practice of ordaining women into Sacramental Holy Orders began more than 20 years ago in my own preparation and formation for ministry in a “liberal” Old Catholic jurisdiction. My bishop at the time was preparing to ordain his first woman candidate to the diaconate and even to the priesthood. This led to my investigation of the history of women in ministry, as well as the
Sacramental theology, ecclesiology, canon law, historical and ecumenical sources, and contemporary understandings of the various ordained ministries, with a particular focus on the historic roles of women.
The scope of this research looked at the traditional understanding of ordained ministry, and even at the diaconate as a permanent vocation. The vocation of deacon is more a triangle than a direct relationship among bishop, priest, and deacon. As the deacon related directly to the bishop of a territorial diocese in earlier church history, so does the deacon relate directly to the pastor — the “bishop” — of the territorial parish in the present. Hence, the diaconate is not solely a stage through which celibate candidates for priesthood pass. It is also a permanent vocation for married and celibate persons, and we as a Church contend, women.
The need for women deacons is overwhelmingly present in the life of ministry in the Church. Even in the Roman Catholic Church, women currently serve in traditional diaconal positions in most parishes: visiting the homebound and hospitalized, catechizing the young, aiding the poor with programs that provide food and clothing, caring for the church building and arranging for liturgies. Their ministry continues in parish liturgies: women read the Scriptures at mass, distribute Communion as Eucharistic ministers, and are greeters, leaders of song, altar servers, and gift bearers. The aggregate of these roles both comprises and signify the diaconate.
Other roles, however, such as preaching, are typically restricted to the ordained. Significantly, only ordained persons may preach during mass. With women as deacons, women could preach. They will also have what the Church understands as the charism of orders to support their diaconal work. They will also join with male deacons, who are called by the bishop to a life dedicated to the Word (Scripture), the liturgy and charity.
In her book “History and Ritual: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church” (Crossroad/Herder, 2000) Phyllis Zagano established the validity and legality of ordaining Catholic women deacons. “Our current understanding, including historical analysis of Catholic rituals for women, points to an ancient status in Church which has been either lost or ignored.”
Rituals for ordination (deacons), benediction (Abbesses), enrollment (widows), consecration (virgins), and profession of vows (nuns and sisters) have faded or collapsed over the centuries. The question arises whether women, who clearly are continuing to serve, gradually adopted other ritual means of certifying their status once the diaconate died out. We theorize, for example, that rituals of the profession of vows and/or consecration of virgins have partly replaced the ritual of the ordination of women to the diaconate. There are virtually no comprehensive studies of Catholic rituals for women, aside from historical studies of individual religious institutes and orders. Ancient and medieval sources — beginning with the Apostolic Constitutions — reveal parallel developments of rituals to accept Women’s Ministry in the Catholic Church
Over centuries and in different locales bishops accepted and certified women’s ministry through various ceremonies, but eventually, official recognition of women’s ministry outside the monastery was repressed, and women who wished to dedicate their lives to God entered cloisters. As women’s monasteries grew, so did formalized profession rites for the nuns and consecration (or benediction) rites for their abbesses. With power nearly equivalent to that of diocesan bishops, abbesses wielded juridical and often sacramental power over their abbeys’ territories