Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Point of Clarification

                     A Point of Clarification
                                     By Most Rev. Bobby C. Hall, DD

St. George Old Roman Catholic Church, located in the community of Centerton Arkansas is a parish of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church- Archdiocese of California.

The Old Roman Catholic Church, while afrming its historic continuity with the Apostolic Church of the rst century, and possessing a line of Holy Orders held in common with the Undivided Church of earlier centuries, traces its unbroken Apostolic Succession through the ancient See of Utrecht in Holland.

It is shown from Vatican records that in 1145, Pope Eugene III granted the cathedral chapter of Utrecht the right to elect it’s successors to the See without having to request permission to do so from Rome after such had been requested by the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III and Bishop Heribert of Utrecht. Later Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Debitum Pastoralis in 1520 giving extraordinary powers to Philip of Burgundy, 57th Bishop of Utrecht. By doing so this most unusual declaration essentially removed the ability of any external authority to “in the rst instance, have his cause evoked to any external tribunal, not even under pretense of any apostolic letters whatever; and that all such proceedings should be, ipso facto, null and void”

By the benevolent actions of Pope Eugene III in 1145 and Pope Leo X in 1520, Rome had effectively created a separate and undeniably valid Roman Catholic jurisdiction. Under these unique dispensations, the Archdiocese of Utrecht had become a completely self-perpetuating Catholic entity created by Papal decree, granted the full right and power to govern its self without any interference from outside sources including intrusion by Rome herself. The Archdioceses faith fully continued as devout Roman Catholics for 183 years in full communion with the Holy See.

Unfortunately starting in 1592 there began numerous instances of intrusion by the Jesuits from outside of the Archdiocese. As the result of the critical unrest produced against the Dutch Church, it all quickly coalesced in 1691. The Jesuits reportedly had found heretical content in The Augustinus, an autobiography of the now deceased Bishop Cornelius Jansen. Archbishop Petrus Codde of Utrecht refused to sign a statement condemning the publication stating; while he accepted the fact that such alleged statements were indeed heresy; they were not contained in the publication in question. Due to the insistence of the Jesuits the Archbishop was required to standing trial, not once, but twice, being found innocent each time by unanimous vote and acquitted of all charges by a tribunal of his peers. Not satised with the outcome the Jesuits in 1701 were successful in pressuring Pope Clement XI to issue a secret brief against the Archbishop removing him from ofce. By this secret act, Archbishop Codde was not aware of the names of his accusers or the alleged charges nor afforded the opportunity to offer any defense. All accomplished on the whim of the Pope in direct violation of Church Canon Law.

Throughout Europe canon lawyers and a number of the major universities met this illegal action by Pope Clement XI with great disapproval. Ultramontane canonist, Hyacinth de Archangelis, issued a formal opinion that a Vicar-Apostolic with the rights of an ordinary, as Codde undoubtedly was, could not be arbitrarily deposed. The canonical matters arising from the blatant Papal violations of Debitum Pastoralis led to the case being submitted for review to the Pontical Roman Catholic University of Leuven (Southern Brabant) in May 1717, which found in favor of the Archdiocese of Utrecht. In spite of the favorable ruling the University was unable to resolve the matter with Rome as Pope Clement XI still occupied the Chair of Peter; thus leading to the creation of a de facto autonomous Catholic church in the Netherlands. It was at this point the Archdiocese of Utrecht had no choice but to severed formal sacramental communion with the Church in Rome continuing as a separate Catholic entity.

Thus, the North American Old Roman Catholic Church Archdiocese of California having direct apostolic linage with the historic Church of Utrecht continues to serve as a valid Catholic Church in both liturgy and apostolic orders, which the Holy See recognizes as a “true particular church.” This recognition is contained in the Declaration Dominus Jesus issued on August 6, 2000 by the Holy See by then- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI, and Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone under the then-Ponticate of His Holiness John Paul II. The document states, “The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.” Additionally various recognized Catholic publications and reference sources continue to attest to the validity of its orders and Eucharist.

The North American Old Roman Catholic Church Archdiocese of California continues to adhere to the ancient practice and belief of the pre-Vatican I Roman Catholic Church that acknowledges the attribute of infallibility as the unique possession and treasure of the Church. As devout Catholics, we continue to honor the Pope as being the undisputed successor of the Blessed Apostle Peter, the traditional Bishop of Rome, rst among equals in the Christian world and pray daily in the mass for his continued good health and wellbeing.    As an apostolically valid Catholic Church, it continues to seek a return to full sacramental communion with Rome in the same manner as that of the Eastern Catholic Church.

A more detailed history of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church Archdiocese of California is at