I get asked a lot what the differences are between the Old Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church. So here's a short list of the biggies:
The main differences are:
- Old Catholics don't acknowledge the Pope as being infallible, having supreme jurisdiction, or that the Imaculate Conception is required belief(it's not supported by Scripture). We give respect to the pope as a bishop of Rome but he has no more power or authority than any other bishop.
- The OCC practices an open Communion -- meaning that all Baptized Christians who believe in the Real Presence are welcome to take Communion.
- Family planning (birth control) is considered a private family matter and is left up to the individual couples. Using birth control does not prevent one from participating fully in the Church.
- We recognize that divorce happens because we live in a fallen world. When it happens we do not exclude or condemn the people. We respond with love and care. Divorce does not prevent remarriage nor does it prevent one from participating fully in the Church. Remarriage would require taking a look at what caused the divorce so that it doesn't happen again.
- We accept all people in their great diversity as children of God and therefore if they meet the qualifications and are called we will ordain them. This includes women, married people, gay people, and transgendered people.
- We treat gay people and straight people the same. Each are held to the same standards in regards to relationships and morals. We will perform marriage regardless of the gender of the couple.
- We believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We do not begin to explain how it happens but we acknowledge that it does happen. This is very much how the Orthodox explain the Real Presence. It is one of the Holy Mysteries.
- Regular private confession is not required. A general confession is included in the Sunday Liturgy and is sufficient. If, however, a person's conscious can not be quietened then private confession is available and encouraged.
- The OCC is very ecumenical and seeks to build relationships with others anytime it can.