A Communion of National Catholic Churches
We are authentically Catholic, but not Roman, we follow orthodoxy, but we’re not Eastern Orthodox.
What is your understanding of being in “communion”? The question most commonly asked of independent Catholic clergy by Roman Catholics (RC) is “are you in communion with Rome?” For RCs being in communion equates to being under the authority of the bishop of Rome, the pope.
Many, if not most lay catholics don’t realize that there has always been more than one, authentic, catholic jurisdiction. Very early in Church history, five major patriarchies were established as regional ecclesiastical governing bodies. Rome was one of them, not over them as an emperor, but as a respected, older brother, or first among equals. Much later on, when Rome instigated the “Great Schism” by making changes to the Nicene Creed and otherwise overstepping her authority, the other four patriarchies never ceased being an authentic part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Likewise, the Church of Utrecht Holland (from where many of us derive our Apostolic Succession) never ceased embracing Catholic principles, when, through falsehoods and political machinations by the Jesuits, their historic autonomy was yanked unceremoniously by the Roman Pontiff, and another schism ensued.
Beginning after the First Vatican Council, a group of National Churches came together under the leadership of the Archbishop of Utrecht Holland for the express purpose of returning the Church to the principles of orthodoxy; they became known as the Union of Utrecht (UU). Unfortunately, over time the UU seems to have lost its way, embracing modern changes, allowing politically correct ideology to dictate doctrinal changes inconsistent with the historic deposit of faith.
Authentic Catholicism has never been about race or national origin. The historic deposit of faith, though it has much of its heritage inside of the Roman paradigm, was never intended to become Anglo-centric. It is our understanding that the early missionaries did us a great disservice by attempting to eradicate virtually all indigenous language and tradition from the practice of faith. In this understanding, we believe that it becomes pharisaic when we insist upon the rules of man as a dogmatic article of faith. If your vision of Church is solely revolving around ethnicity, your vision needs to expand.
When the Catholic Church in America (CCIA) was incorporated, we emerged from a tradition of ethnic Churches in the United States, primarily Filipino and Mexican. It was the vision of the late Archbishop Juan Baladad to form a uniquely “American” Catholic Jurisdiction that embraced the vast cultural diversity of the “great melting pot” of the USA. While this vision is working for the Churches we have on this continent (USA), the name of the CCIA is incompatible with a vision of facilitating the growth and incorporation of international churches. This has recently become apparent as the CCIA has been incorporating into communion several churches on the continent of Africa. It was never our intention to create duplicate “CCIAs” around the world but to facilitate an authentic Catholic faith wherever we are called.
In order to facilitate ministry in the diverse cultures and nations which we are called to serve we have concluded that we must return to the concept of “national churches” within full communion with one another, with a renewed commitment to orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Supporting this idea we are forming the International Catholic Confederation™ (ICC).
The ICC will become a permanent Union of Catholic Churches dedicated to the restoration of the historic tenets of the Catholic faith. We as a communion, affirm the founding principles of the Old Catholic movement as outlined in the declaration of Utrecht. Additionally, we are will continue the concept of National Churches, where each National Jurisdiction not only embraces the orthodox Catholic faith, but maintain the liberty of electing their own bishops, maintaining local governance, and incorporating appropriate cultural traditions. The bishops of our confederation are accountable to one another with the focus of both maintaining orthodoxy and spreading the gospel in fulfilling Christ’s “great commission.”The ICC will be under the leadership of a presiding Archbishop chosen from among the member jurisdictions. Our college of bishops will be in full parity with one another, with the presiding Archbishop in a position of honor as the “first among equals.” At our inception, the Archbishop of the CCIA, as the ICC founder, will be at the head of the confederation. However, the ICC will have the responsibility of electing and confirming the successor. The bishops of the ICC must develop a minimal constitution, outlining our intents and purposes, with the “Declaration of Utrecht” as our guiding principle we will look back to the historic deposit of faith, including councils and creeds for clarity of vision, mission, and orthodoxy.
Member jurisdictions and bishops agree to support one another to the best of our individual abilities. This includes assisting in the consecration of bishops in valid apostolic succession and helping to facilitate new member jurisdiction. In the spirit of collegiality, we agree that developing individual, sectarian jurisdictions tend to engender division rather than unity. Therefore, rite and jurisdiction names tend to become a source of pride and are not as important developing authentic “Catholic” faith communities and jurisdictions.
We as the bishops of the ICC recognize the validity of each other’s sacraments and liturgical rites. We also proclaim that our individual jurisdictional identities are not as important as our collegiality and understanding of the historic deposit of faith. In that understanding, we affirm the centrality of the Eucharist in our worship and fully invite members of all ICC jurisdictions to participate in all of our sacraments. We understand that the sacraments are not the sole possession of individual churches but a natural right of an authentic Catholic faith.