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What is "Old Catholicism"?

We know from history that the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ was united for a thousand years.

Today, however, the Catholic Church is comprised of five sister Communions:

  • Roman Catholic
  • Old Catholic
  • Anglican Catholic / Episcopalian
  • Eastern Catholic (or Eastern Orthodox)
  • Oriental (Coptic, Syrian, Nestorian)

These sister churches, together relating to each other in love, hold that through baptism, celebrated in our churches according to the faith handed down to us from the Apostles, we are each made members of the one Mystical Body of Christ.

For the most part, the sister churches interpret God's plan of salvation essentially the same. But like all sisters in a family, there are differences: mostly administrative and disciplinary, and some theological.

Certain differences are expected and accepted. Nevertheless, each of the five churches is united with all or most of its sisters through the closest bonds, that is, by Apostolic Succession and a valid, mutually recognized Eucharist.

In essentials, unity.
In non-essentials, liberty.
In all things, love.
--St. Augustine

The Old Catholic Church recognizes the clergy and Eucharist of all four of its sisters. Its own are recognized by all.

The Tradition of the Old Catholic Church comes from Scripture, the Ecumenical Councils of the early, undivided Church, and the teachings of the early Church Fathers and of all saints, inspired by the Holy Spirit, from our Lord’s time on earth to the present. The Old Catholic Church, collectively and through its bishops, looks to the Holy Spirit for guidance and not to any one man. The Old Catholic Church is ruled not by one man but by councils where the bishops, priests, deacons, and laity are active participants. The Old Catholic Church fully believes in the priesthood of all the baptized and insists that all members of the church be included in the governance. Church is not just a weekly occurrence for Old Catholics, it is so much more than that. Old Catholics come together as often as possible to celebrate the Eucharist (Lord's Supper or Holy Communion) and in that celebration we join with each other in love and fellowship as one to offer our thanks and praise to our God.

The Old Catholic Church is a Communion or family of national churches who are members of the Union of Utrecht. The Union of Utrecht is similar to that of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Utrecht is the "first among equals" of the Union. At the current time, there are no churches in the United States that are members of the Union of Utrecht. This fact, however, does not prevent St. Francis Old Catholic Church from adhering to the principals of the Union of Utrecht. It is our desire, along with the rest of the Old Catholic church, that one day we all may be one, just as Christ prayed. St. Francis Old Catholic Church is not formally in associated with the Union of Utrecht but we share a love and affection for our Old Catholic brothers and sisters in Europe and share in the deepest of all bonds which is the Eucharist.