Independent Catholicism is a movement comprising clergy and laity who
self-identify as Catholic and who form "micro-churches claiming
apostolic succession and valid sacraments," despite a lack of
affiliation with the main
Catholic Church itself. It is virtually
impossible to determine the number of jurisdictions, communities,
clergy and members who make up Independent Catholicism,,
particularly since the movement "is growing and changing in every
moment." Many choose
Independent Catholicism as an alternative
means to live and express their catholic faith outside the Catholic
Church. The structures, beliefs and practices of Independent
Catholicism often closely align with those of other Catholic and
Independent Catholicism is part of the larger Independent Sacramental
Movement, in which clergy and laity of various faith traditions –
including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the
Anglican Communion and
various non-Catholic Christian churches – have separated themselves
from the institutions with which they previously self-identified.
Within the Independent Sacramental Movement, various independent
churches have sprung from the Eastern Orthodox Church, but the members
of these independent Orthodox groups most often self-identify as
Independent Orthodox, and not as Independent Catholic.
1.1 Early episcopal consecrations without papal approval
1.2 First departure from the
Roman Catholic Church
1.3 Episcopal consecrations by Arnold Harris Mathew
1.4 Episcopal consecrations by Joseph René Vilatte
1.5 Subsequent departures from the
Roman Catholic Church
1.5.1 Czechoslovak Hussite Church
1.5.2 Episcopal consecrations by Carlos Duarte Costa
1.5.3 Episcopal consecrations by Pierre Martin Ngo Dihn Thuc
1.5.4 Episcopal consecrations by Emmanuel Milingo
2 Appeal of
Independent Catholicism to Catholic and Christian
3 Independent Catholic beliefs and practices
Autocephalous nature of Independent Catholicism
5 Importance of apostolic succession in Independent Catholicism
5.1 Conditional consecrations and ordinations
6 Independent Catholic clergy
7 Religious orders
8 Formation of clergy
10 See also
11.3 Further reading
12 External links
Early episcopal consecrations without papal approval
Dominique Marie Varlet,
Beginning in 1724,
Dominique Marie Varlet
Dominique Marie Varlet (1678-1742), the Roman
Bishop of Babylon, consecrated four successive men as
Utrecht without papal approval. The Cathedral Chapter of
Utrecht, which elected these men, had previously obtained an opinion
Zeger Bernhard van Espen
Zeger Bernhard van Espen (1646-1728) and two other doctors at the
University of Louvain, which noted that the chapter had the right, in
special circumstances, to elect its own archbishop and have him
consecrated without the consent of the pope, and that, in the case of
necessity, one bishop alone might validly consecrate another. Nineteen
doctors of the theological faculties at Paris, Nantes,
Padua approved of this opinion. This caused a theological controversy
and schism within the
Roman Catholic Church, which now possessed
bishops who were validly consecrated without the permission of the
pope. This schism marked the birth of the movement that would later be
known as the Old
Catholic Church (a term coined in 1853 for the
Catholics of Utrecht), and it marked the beginning of an era in the
western Church, in which validly-consecrated bishops enjoyed apostolic
succession but were not subject to the structures and strictures of
Roman Catholic Church.
First departure from the
Roman Catholic Church
The sharing of apostolic succession in the west outside the Catholic
Church was largely confined to the Church of
Utrecht for over a
century. After the (First) Vatican Council in 1870, many
Austro-Hungarian, German and Swiss Catholics rejected the declaration
of papal infallibility, and their bishops, inspired by earlier acts in
Utrecht, decided to leave the
Catholic Church to form their own
churches, independent of the Catholic Church. Now independent of the
pope, these bishops were sometimes referred to as autocephalous (or
self-governing) bishops or episcopi vaganti (wandering bishops). These
validly-consecrated bishops enjoyed apostolic succession, and they
continued to share that apostolic succession with the priests and
deacons they ordained. In 1889, they formally united as part of the
Utrecht Union of Churches (UU).
Episcopal consecrations by Arnold Harris Mathew
Arnold Harris Mathew
Arnold Harris Mathew (1852-1919)
In 1908, the movement that would become
Independent Catholicism left
continental Europe when
Arnold Harris Mathew
Arnold Harris Mathew (1852-1919), a former
Roman Catholic priest, was consecrated in
Great Britain by Archbishop
Gerardus Gul (1847-1920) of the Old
Catholic Church of the
Netherlands. Mathew believed that
Old Catholicism might provide a home
Anglican clergy who reacted to
Pope Leo XIII's
Anglican orders were null and void, and Gul
incorrectly believed that Mathew had a significant following in the
United Kingdom. Two years later, in 1910, Mathew consecrated two
priests to the episcopate, without clear reasons and without
consulting the Archbishop of Utrecht, and, in response to the ensuing
protest, declared his autonomy from the
Old Catholic Church. Mathew
later consecrated several other bishops who spread through
North America. Plummer writes: "Here we begin to see the small,
endlessly multiplying groups, with a high percentage of the membership
in holy orders, which came to characterize the independent
movement." From a historical perspective, one of Mathew's most
important consecrations was of Frederick Samuel Willoughby, who in
turn consecrated James Wedgwood, the co-founder in 1918 of the Liberal
Catholic Church, an esoteric community closely aligned with the
Theosophical Society and allowing complete freedom of belief.
Episcopal consecrations by Joseph René Vilatte
Joseph René Vilatte
Joseph René Vilatte (1854-1929), an
Old Catholic priest ordained
Eduard Herzog (1841-1924) of the Old
Catholic Church in
Switzerland, is credited with being the first person to bring to
North America the movement that would result in Independent
Catholicism. In 1892, Vilatte traveled to India, where he was
consecrated Mar Timotheos by Mar Julius I (1836-1923) of the Malankara
Orthodox Syrian Church. During the following 28 years, Vilatte
consecrated "a number of men who are the episcopal ancestors of an
enormous variety of descendants" in North America.
Subsequent departures from the
Roman Catholic Church
The last century has seen a number of clergy and laity move into the
Independent Catholic movement, from the
Roman Catholic Church.
Czechoslovak Hussite Church
Perhaps the largest departure from the Roman
Catholic Church was the
Czechoslovak Hussite Church
Czechoslovak Hussite Church (CHC), which organized on January 8, 1920,
when several thousand priests and laypeople formed an independent
church in response to their deep concerns over the Roman Catholic
Church's opposition to modernism. The church's first patriarch was
Karel Farský (1880-1927), a modernist and former Roman Catholic
priest. The first bishops of the CHC were consecrated by priests
through the laying on of hands. In 1931, Louis-Charles Winnaert
(1880-1937), who was consecrated by Liberal
Catholic bishop James
Wedgwood(1883-1951), consecrated two CHC bishops, Gustav Procházka
(1872-1942) and Rostislav Stejskal (1894-1946), thus sharing apostolic
succession with the CHC. The CHC ordained its first woman priest in
1947, and it consecrated its first woman bishop in 1999. According to
Czech Republic census, 39,276 people at that time
self-identified as members of the CHC.
Episcopal consecrations by Carlos Duarte Costa
Bishop Carlos Duarte (left) at the episcopal
consecration of Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez, at the Panama Canal
Carlos Duarte Costa
Carlos Duarte Costa (1888-1961) served as a
Roman Catholic bishop in
Brazil for more than twenty years before withdrawing from the Roman
Catholic Church over his opposition to its position on clerical
celibacy, divorce, vernacular liturgy, and his suspicions of the Roman
Catholic Church's fascist sympathies during World War II. In 1945,
Duarte Costa founded the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church, and he
shared valid lines of apostolic succession with several bishops and
priests within the Independent Catholic movement. He is now revered as
"St. Charles of Brazil" in the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church,
which had grown to 560,781 members by 2010.
Episcopal consecrations by Pierre Martin Ngo Dihn Thuc
From 1975 until his death in 1984, exiled
Roman Catholic Archbishop
Pierre Martin Ngo Dihn Thuc (1897-1984) of Huế, Vietnam, an older
brother of Ngo Dinh Diem, the first president of South Vietnam,
consecrated a number of bishops, first for the Palmarian Catholic
Church, then for the sedevacantists of the Tridentine Latin Rite
Catholic Church. In 1999, Pop star Sinead O'Connor (b. 1966) was
ordained a priest by
Bishop Michael Cox (b. 1945) of the Irish
Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, whose lines of apostolic
succession came through Archbishop Thuc.
Episcopal consecrations by Emmanuel Milingo
Emmanuel Milingo (b. 1930) served as
Roman Catholic Archbishop of
Lusaka, Zambia from 1969 to 1983. As such, he enjoyed valid lines of
apostolic succession from the
Roman Catholic Church, and, after
departing from the Roman
Catholic Church in 1983 over the issues of
faith healing and clerical celibacy, he formed Married Priests Now!
and consecrated four married priests as bishops: George Stallings of
Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation, Peter Paul
Brennan of the
Old Catholic Confederation, Archbishop Patrick Trujillo
of the Old
Catholic Church in America, and Archbishop Joseph Gouthro
of the Catholic Apostolic Church International. Since 2006, Milingo
has performed at least four other consecrations. In 2013, Milingo, who
still considers himself a Roman Catholic, retired from active ministry
in the Ecumenical Catholic Apostolic Church of Peace.
Independent Catholicism to Catholic and Christian
Independent Catholicism for the first time, the
questions of many individuals "are often historical: 'Where did this
come from? Who ordained you? Did you invent this?'" Many
Independent Catholics respond by emphasizing their tie to the larger
Christian tradition of which they form part, the heritage they have
received from larger, historic, mainstream churches, like the Roman
Catholic Church, and their continuity of faith and ministry with those
churches. Like Christians of the early Church, many see their
efforts as "the seeds of a new kind of ministry that can adapt itself
to the time and place of its exercise, the needs of the moment, and
the people who are actually present in that particular place at that
particular time. And yet is it so new? Is it not perhaps the very way
St. Paul set about spreading the
Gospel and building the
Many Independent Catholic communities look to the past, seeking to
create communities according to models provided by the New Testament
(e.g., home-based fellowships led by volunteer clergy) and
restoring various practices of the primitive Church, including the
creation of an inclusive community and the honoring of the place of
women and other marginalized persons within those communities. Many
also find benchmarks for their current work in the annals of Christian
history (e.g., the living of religious life, the sharing of various
spiritual traditions, or the celebration of the Tridentine liturgy).
Independent Catholic beliefs and practices
Virtually all members of the Independent Catholic movement possess "a
deep commitment to the catholic (in the broadest possible sense)
sacramental tradition" and worship according to a prescribed
liturgy, usually derived from a mainstream Christian rite (like the
Roman rite). Plummer suggests that "the most critical factor for
independent sacramental identity is the single-minded focus on
sacramental activity...[and that] very few independent communities
offer coffee hour, Sunday School, and the array of other social
programs which have come to characterize many mainstream
Like the liturgies of early Christian community, the liturgies of
Independent Catholic communities often vary widely, with each cleric
and/or community making "its own choices of emphasis in terms of
doctrine, liturgy, and other matters." In practice, Independent
Catholic polity is often essentially congregational.
For the most part, Independent Catholic communities possess a
sacramental and eucharistic spirituality, often mirroring the
sacramental life and theology of the
Roman Catholic Church. Most
possess a mediatory priesthood and an historic episcopate, which
are often the only constants amid diversity that ranges from extreme
traditionalism to radical experimentation. Whereas the western
Church and its theology have remained constant, despite changing
Independent Catholicism often possesses another model in which
"the priesthood remains constant, while the church it serves and the
theology it teaches are often in a state of flux. While some western
Christians may see this state of affairs as a distortion, it is
nonetheless the centerpiece of the independent sacramental inheritance
from the west."
Plummer aptly notes: "Independent sacramental Christians have given a
unique primacy to the priesthood, carrying the 'priesthood of all
believers' to an extent never before envisioned. In many such
churches, most or all of the members are ordained, with ordination
functioning more like [the sacrament of confirmation], rather than a
professional credential. For better or worse, there is great freedom
to create new church structures, new forms for the sacraments, and new
theologies, or at least a new synthesis of inherited elements."
Many Independent Catholic communities are small, are led by an unpaid
clergy, and lack a stable schedule and/or location. Larger
Independent Catholic communities have often resulted from schism
within the Roman
Catholic Church and/or are often led by clergy who
were formed by and formerly ministered to the
Roman Catholic Church;
these communities often resemble mainstream churches, with a larger
population of laity and a small number of paid clergy. In
Independent Catholicism, freelance ministries meeting the needs of a
small number of persons are far more common than large parishes.
While many Independent Catholic clergy and communities affirm the
Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed, with or without the filioque and
with varying interpretations, they espouse a variety of doctrines and
beliefs, ranging from neo-gnostic and theosophical beliefs allowing
for "freedom in the interpretation of scriptures, creeds, and
liturgies," or the belief in no creed at all, to extremely
Roman Catholic positions. Plummer notes: "The
nature of the movement makes it virtually impossible for there to ever
be a unified theology" among Independent Catholics.
Within the movement of Independent Catholicism, views vary widely on
such issues as the ordination of women, homosexuality, divorce, issues
of conscience, and other issues that are also controversial in other
mainstream Catholic and Christian churches. Drawing from the
Christian tradition and other religious traditions, a
growing number of Independent Catholic clergy and communities espouse
a certain universalism, believing that God's loving embrace and
forgiveness might be extended to all. Sometimes reaching beyond
the bounds of the Christian tradition, some Independent Catholic
clergy and communities feel greater liberty to incorporate into their
lives and their worship a wide ranges of elements from other spiritual
and religious traditions. Independent Catholic communities, often
being quite small, tend to be internally fairly homogeneous on these
and other issues, which means that divisions more often exist between
different Independent Catholic communities, rather than within
specific Independent Catholic communities.
Plummer suggests the following categories for Independent Catholic
communities: (1) clergy who primarily celebrate alone, (2)
traditionalists with conservative theological commitments, (3)
churches maintaining traditional liturgy but with a different social
or theological vision (e.g., full inclusion), (4) groups with a
particular focus on women's issues (e.g., the ordination of women)
and/or the recovery of the
Divine Feminine in worship, (5) groups
seeking liberal, non-dogmatic approaches to being church, with little,
if any, standards of dogmatic beliefs, and (6) fellowships with an
Hundreds of websites are devoted to Independent Catholic jurisdictions
and communities, many of which have little evident presence or
ministry outside the internet. Additionally, many Independent Catholic
clergy have no web presence at all.
Autocephalous nature of Independent Catholicism
Independent Catholic clergy do not fall under the jurisdiction of the
Roman Catholic Church. Rather, the bishops of the Independent Catholic
movement are autocephalous or self-governing. At present, there is no
single unifying structure for the many clergy and laity who make up
Independent Catholicism, and no reliable, centralized
record-keeping. Independent Catholic communities are often small
and extremely fluid. Various directories of Independent Catholic
clergy have been attempted through the years, much of the information
is provided by subjects, often with little verification, and most
such directories contain hardly more than the quickly-outdated contact
information of individual clerics, with little information on
jurisdictions, communities, apostolic succession, and forms of
Importance of apostolic succession in Independent Catholicism
The notion of apostolic succession, the ability of a bishop to trace
his/her spiritual ancestry through a purportedly unbroken line of
bishops back to the original faith established by
Jesus of Nazareth
and his apostles, has played an important role in the history of the
western Church since the
Donatist controversy in the fourth and fifth
centuries A.D. The traditional Catholic position holds that a
validly-consecrated bishop shares apostolic succession with the
bishops he consecrates and the priests and deacons he ordains,
regardless of any heresy and/or schism he may have committed. Some
theologians argue that this view is mechanical and reductionist, and
that episcopal consecration is for service within a specific Christian
community; according to this view, the consecration or ordination of
an individual with no reference to a community is without effect. Many
Independent Catholic clergy reject this view, arguing that bishops are
consecrated for service, and that priests and deacons are ordained for
the service of others, whether they are part of a defined community or
jurisdiction, or more broadly defined. Independent Catholics tend to
share the view that "whatever else we may disagree about, we all
believe earnestly in apostolic succession!"
Many persons who possess valid lines of apostolic succession within
the Independent Catholic movement received them from the Roman
Catholic Church or from the lines of apostolic succession shared by
Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa,
Roman Catholic Archbishop
Pierre Martin Ngo Dihn Thuc, and
Roman Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel
Milingo, who validly, even if not licitly, consecrated and ordained
individuals outside the
Roman Catholic Church.
Some within the Roman
Catholic Church have argued against the
consecrations and ordinations that have been celebrated within the
Independent Catholic movement, saying that they are "without canonical
effect" (i.e., that they do not change the legal status of the
recipient from lay person to cleric in the
Roman Catholic Church). The
Roman Catholic Church, however, has refrained from pronouncing these
consecrations and ordinations invalid. Canonically, the Roman Catholic
Church has said "...the [Roman] Church does not recognise their
ordination nor shall it do so, and she considers them, as regards all
legal effects, in the state which each one had beforehand..."
The clause "in the state which each one had beforehand" suggests that
Catholic Church views these consecrated and ordained
individuals as lay persons – rather than as the clergy they are
within the Independent Catholic tradition – whose claim to be clergy
is based on the ordination in question and whether the individual was
ordained and/or consecrated by a bishop with valid lines of apostolic
Conditional consecrations and ordinations
Because the claim of apostolic succession has traditionally been
viewed as a primary determinant of the validity of the Church's
sacraments, some Independent Catholic clergy, particularly in the
early days of the movement, underwent more than one ordination or
consecration, to ensure the possession of valid lines of apostolic
succession. According to liturgical theology, these lines of apostolic
succession are shared by bishops with the persons consecrated or
ordained by them, and, due to the indelible nature of the sacrament of
Holy Orders, once a person is ordained or consecrated, s/he can never
be ordained or consecrated again (nor can his/her orders be taken away
from him/her). Rather, subsequent ordinations and/or consecrations are
considered "conditional" (or sub conditione) and have no effect unless
no valid ordination or consecration was previously received by the
These conditional consecrations and ordinations complicate
conversations on the historical origins of the Independent Catholic
movement and its communities. Plummer writes: "Many independent
bishops have been consecrated multiple times, in an effort to ensure
sacramental validity and consolidate claims to the historic
episcopate. Such consecrations, in which literally dozens of
'lineages' can be transmitted from one bishop to another, only
increase the difficulty of accurately describing the ancestry of any
given group." He notes that this "crossbreeding of ecclesiastical
lineage" has reached such a point that most Independent Catholic
clergy share most or all of their heritage in common, even if this
shard heritage has not contributed in any way toward jurisdictional
Independent Catholic clergy
Independent Catholicism comprises a wide variety of clergy, many of
whom are "primarily ritually focused" and possess "a particularly
strong attachment to the liturgical aspect of being Christian."
Many Independent Catholic clergy and their communities are "those who
have felt themselves excluded from the mainstream liturgical churches
due to gender, sexuality, race, culture, style of worship...or
theology." Plummer notes that within the Independent Sacramental
Movement, which includes Independent Catholicism, "ordination is often
open to a much larger percentage of the membership than in mainstream
churches. Thus, those who want to become priests can generally do so.
In the case of women and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered
persons, there is a redemptive reversal in which those who were denied
a public role in the church's sacramental life have assumed the
previously forbidden place at the altar. Persons from ethnic or
cultural minority groups who have been denied leadership positions, or
who feel that their culture has been stifled, can work to more fully
integrate their cultural identity and their faith....Thus, we have
those who have been excluded from the church's sacramental life, for
whatever reasons, taking ownership of the liturgical traditions, and
creatively innovating to form new communities." Many Independent
Catholics see this spirit of inclusiveness as being in line with St.
Paul's vision of an inclusive community and with Jesus'
reconciliation of all on the cross, with the subsequent rending of the
Temple veil, thus granting access by all to the Holy of Holies. As
a result, an increasing number of Independent Catholics find it
difficult to justify how a church following in the footsteps of Jesus
might justify withholding the sacrament of
Holy Orders from women and
sexual minorities, and the sacrament of Marriage from same-sex
Outside of mainstream churches, Plummer says, such clergy "have often
been accused of 'playing church.' Perhaps there is a grain of truth in
that barb, as there is a touch of a playful attitude, when all these
unlikely folks process into the church's sanctuary."
Independent Catholic clergy have been described as "often very
attached to their individual views of theology, liturgy, and other
matters...and would rather belong to minuscule groups which more
closely approximate their vision of Christianity." Plummer shares:
"Many independent clergy, perhaps a majority, at least theoretically
subscribe to fairly standard Roman/Orthodox/
Anglican theology, with
few distinctive beyond, for instance, the rejection of papal
infallibility. Most spent many years within those mainstream
jurisdictions...[and now as Independent Catholic clergy] they have
often expended great energy in appearing 'real,' and 'just like' the
larger liturgical churches, with only one or two adjustments."
Many Independent Catholic clergy are "essentially alone in their
priestly practice" and exercise a primarily solitary vocation,
with many of their family members and friends not even knowing of
their clerical status. In line with Jesus' command to pray to God
in secret and with the monastic tradition of hermit priests (e.g.,
Roman Catholic Carthusians) praying alone but in mystical union with
the entire church and interceding for the entire world, much of their
worship is performed in private. Plummer suggests: "A growing
number of clergy are comfortable with private celebration, when a
community is not available, or if they have discerned that their
vocation is largely a hidden one....Private celebration is often
grounded in a deep conviction of the objective reality and efficacy of
the sacraments. From such a perspective, even a mass said in one's
living room unknown to any other soul, is still a radiant gift to the
world, and a powerful prayer for those held in mind and heart. On a
less exalted level, private masses for those without a community
enforce one's priestly identity, which may be outwardly expressed in
less obvious ways." Practically speaking, Plummer says, "viable
independent communities are not always easily created, and these
clergy would deprive themselves of the benefits of communion, and of
the joining of themselves to Christ in his sacrifice, if they waited
for the presence of others in order to approach the altar." When
engaged in ministry with others, Independent Catholic priests often
see themselves as missionaries, freely sharing the grace of the
Church's sacraments with those who may not regularly participate in a
Often volunteering their time in ministry, many Independent Catholic
bishops, priests and deacons are a "working clergy" who support
themselves and their ministries with jobs outside their ministries. As
such, many often struggle to integrate their secular jobs and
"ordinary" lives with their vocations and ministries.
While all religious traditions contain examples of unhealthy
individuals and of clergy misconduct, critics often draw attention
to the personalities and idiosyncrasies of Independent Catholic
Similar to the
Roman Catholic Church, which possesses a rich tradition
of varied religious orders,
Independent Catholicism also consists of a
diversity of religious communities. Most often, these communities and
their jurisdictions resemble their
Roman Catholic counterparts.
Some Independent Catholic religious communities are founded by and are
exclusively for the members of particular jurisdictions; others are
open to all who wish to live and grow in the spirituality of the
religious community. Many religious communities within the Independent
Catholic tradition are less structured than
Roman Catholic religious
orders, with their members making certain vows (that may be
interpreted differently than the traditional evangelical counsels),
living a lifestyle in line with the spirituality of the tradition, and
sharing the charism of their religious order with the world.
Formation of clergy
Apart from those members of the clergy who were formed within the
seminary system of the Roman
Catholic Church or of a similar
mainstream church, very few Independent Catholic clergy have received
a formal theological education. Independent Catholic clergy "are
not usually specialized professionals, but volunteers who hopefully
know at least enough to celebrate the sacraments for themselves and
those around them....Such radically different models of Christian
priesthood raise questions of what sort of clergy training is needed,
and offered within these communities." Plummer shares interviewee
feedback suggesting that "the challenge of clergy training...was cited
as the most important challenge facing the movement."
Resources for the formation and education of Independent Catholic
clergy and seminarians are sparse, many Independent Catholic
seminarians lack the financial and personal resources to be full-time
seminarians, and many are not "willing to go to such lengths, and
incur such debt [for a graduate degree], with no prospect of paid
ministry." Instead, many Independent Catholic seminarians work
full-time at secular jobs and do not have the leisure to pursue
full-time studies. Independent Catholic clergy have established a
number of seminaries, most featuring distance learning and/or
mentoring programs that vary considerably in quality, but very few
of which grant legitimate degrees, possess meaningful accreditation,
or could lead to a paycheck and/or a reasonably well-assured career
path. More common is the mentoring and training of candidates by
bishops and priests who have few if any clear guidelines or
expectations for ordinands and instead adjust training requirements to
meet the needs of the ordinand's vocation. Plummer concludes:
"Mentoring will likely continue to be the primary means of clergy
training in the independent sacramental movement, due in part to the
extremely flexible, anarchic nature of the movement, which works
against the creation of formalized seminary programs."
Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that many clergy within the
Independent Catholic movement have been ordained and/or consecrated
with insufficient theological preparation, thus raising difficult
questions about the nature of ministry. Some are ordained and/or
consecrated to various orders in a matter of a few days, and "some
received no advance preparation, and admit that they did not really
understand what they were doing. Clearly, problems can erupt from
clergy who grasp neither their spiritual commitments nor their
role." As a result, some bishops limit the faculties of their
priests and deacons, allowing them to perform only those functions for
which they are adequately prepared (e.g., with the ability to
celebrate the Eucharist in private, but not to preach or to celebrate
the sacrament of Reconciliation), but the limiting of such faculties
is the exception.
The grace of God in the sacrament of
Holy Orders is often freely
shared within Independent Catholicism, thus leading to such
characterizations as that of the young and ministerially-unprepared
teenager whom poet Robert Kelly (b. 1935) says he once was: "A
Unitarian I came into the world in Pride's Crossing, Massachusetts,
and a Unitarian I shall leave it, notwithstanding my daily practice of
Vedic sacrifices, my twenty-year long pursuit of ritual magic,
the fact that I am technically a Muslim, and the more resplendent fact
that I awoke from a teenage binge one day to find myself consecrated
bishop of the Primitive Restored Old
Catholic Church of North
America." Plummer concludes: "It is very difficult to know what to
do about such untrained clergy. Some provide themselves the training
they did not receive from their bishop, and serve admirably well,
perhaps better than some of their formally educated peers. Others are
walking disasters, spiraling into psychological distortions that
injure themselves and others, or ignoring their ordained status
Most writings and liturgical rites within the Independent Catholic
movement are self-published at best, and are often directed by
Independent Catholic clergy toward other Independent Catholic
clergy. Sustained theological reflection in the future might be
expected from clergy and communities with greater theological
formation and/or from larger, more stable communities that have
survived into their second or third generation. In the meantime,
"as independent clergy are most often volunteers with secular jobs,
and little formal theological training, they lack both the time and
the tools helpful to the development of a fully imagined
Academic literature on
Independent Catholicism is relatively sparse
and not generally sympathetic.
List of Independent Catholic denominations
^ Plummer, p. 86.
^ a b Plummer, p. 3.
^ Plummer, p. 5.
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^ Plummer, p. 13.
^ Plummer, p. 15.
^ Bain, p. 16.
^ Plummer, p. 77.
^ a b Plummer, p. 70.
^ a b c d Plummer, p. 37.
^ Plummer, p. 91.
^ Plummer, p. 1.
^ a b Plummer, p. 128.
^ a b Plummer, p. 25.
^ Plummer, pp. 1 & 3.
^ Plummer, p. 112.
^ Plummer, p. 113.
Liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Church, p. 196.
^ Plummer, p. 101.
^ Plummer, p. 102.
^ Plummer, pp. 70-71.
^ Plummer, p. 85.
^ Plummer, p. 40.
^ Plummer, p. 4.
^ Plummer, p. 7.
^ a b c Plummer, p. 14.
^ Plummer, p. 10.
^ Plummer, p. 9.
^ Sacra Congregatio pro doctrina Fidei (1976-09-17). "Decretum circa
quasdam illegitimas ordinationes presbyterales et episcopales" (PDF).
Acta Apostolicae Sedis (in Latin) (published 1976-10-31). 68 (10):
623. ISSN 0001-5199. Translated in Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith (1976-09-17). "Decree concerning certain
unlawful priestly and episcopal ordinations". L'Osservatore Romano
(published 1976-09-30). p. 1. Archived from the original on
2012-01-04. Retrieved 2014-06-15 – via vatican.va.
^ Sacra Congregatio Sancti Officii (1951-04-09). "Decretum de
consecratione episcopi sine canonica provisione" (PDF). Acta
Apostolicae Sedis (in Latin) (published 1951-04-21). 43 (5):
217–218. ISSN 0001-5199.
^ Plummer, p. 127.
^ a b c Plummer, p. 67.
^ Plummer, p. 66.
^ Plummer, pp. 66-68.
^ Galatians 3:28.
^ Mark 15:38; Matthew 27:51; Luke 23:45.
^ Plummer, pp. 2-3.
^ a b Plummer, p. 69.
^ Plummer, p. 64.
^ Plummer, p. 2.
^ Matthew 6:6.
^ Plummer p. 92.
^ Plummer, pp. 64-65.
^ Plummer, pp. 114-115.
^ Plummer, p. 119.
^ Plummer, p. 117.
^ Plummer, pp. 104-105.
^ a b c Plummer, p. 105.
^ Plummer, p. 122.
^ a b Plummer, p. 120.
^ Plummer, p. 125.
^ http://www.lumen.org/intros/intro37.html, as cited in Plummer, p.
^ Plummer, p. 106.
^ Plummer, pp. 3-4.
^ Plummer, pp. 10.
^ Plummer, p. 6.
Bain, Alan (1985). Bishops Irregular: An International Directory of
Independent Bishops. Bristol: A.M. Bain. ISBN 0951029800.
Moss, Claude Beaufort (2005) . The
Old Catholic Movement: Its
Origins and History (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: The Apocryphile Press.
Plummer, John P. (2004). The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental
Movement. Berkeley, CA: The Apocryphile Press.
Byrne, Julie (2016-05-24). The Other Catholics: Remaking America's
Largest Religion. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231541701.
Retrieved 27 March 2018.
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