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Cor Sedis Nostrae

Patriarchal Encyclical on the Nature, Purpose, and Duty of the See of Saint Stephen


The heart of Our See is the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Faith, united in the Sacred Traditions of the Faith for the sake of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the eternal See of Saint Peter in Rome. The heritage of Our See is through the English Church, which has her roots in the Church of Rome; we continue the historic Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church in England prior to the Protestant Reformation and Revolution. Our See was restored to the fullness of the Catholic Faith, with a mandate of mission, service, and charity, following the example of our glorious Patron, Saint Stephen the Deacon and Protomartyr. Through this mandate, we help to maintain the patrimony and heritage of the Holy Roman Empire. In so doing, we promote and proclaim the notion that the people of God should be united and governed according to the laws of God. Through our Anglican heritage and our temporal patrimony, we both help to preserve the unique English heritage of central Italy and the Catholic heritage and patrimony of portions of the Americas under the Holy Roman Empire. All this flows from the altar of God, without which all would be for nothing. We proceed forward to carry out our mandate as faithful traditional Roman Catholics, bearing the Blessed Sacrament before us with joy, humility, and thanksgiving.


On Ultrajectine Catholicism

  Our Holy Orders stem from the See of Utrecht, which was, during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, given special autonomy by Rome. This autonomy was continuously re-affirmed by Rome and Church Councils. Then, as the subsequent "Old Catholic" movement began, largely in Utrecht, in opposition to the First Vatican Council and Papal Infallibility, it became necessary for the English Archbishop Arnold Harold Mathew to separate fromhis parent See of Utrecht and preserve that traditional Roman Catholicism so long practiced by the Ultrajectine See.

  With Mathew was not found the first usage of the term "Old Roman Catholic." When previous disputes between Utrecht and Rome arose over illegitimate, unfounded, and never-proven charges of heresy made against the Archbishop of Utrecht, and a new diocese was erected there by the Roman Communion, those of the old Ultrajectine See referred to themselves as "Roman Catholics of the Old Episcopal Order."

  It cannot be stressed enough that Old Roman Catholicism never left the Catholic Church. The political disputes that occurred over the years are most unfortunate and a mere product of the fallen state of all mankind. Furthermore, true Old Roman Catholicism has nothing to do with the schismatic nature of the aforementioned "Old Catholic" movement that gained a foothold in Utrecht and continues to reign there to this day.

  The numerous schisms among Old Roman Catholics and Old Catholics over numerous issues are lamentable. It is clear in some cases that newly-erected jurisdictions were created for reasons contrary to the Holy Gospel. This situation has resulted in great actual disunity in addition to an outward appearance of disunity, disharmony, and lack of purpose and legitimacy. Such has been exploited by modernist and liberal Catholics, secularists, and others to harm this authentic expression of Roman Catholicism.

  The See of Saint Stephen descends from the Ultrajectine See, via the line of Mathew. It is for this reason that we refer to our Patriarchate as an Old Roman Catholic Patriarchate. Indeed, We enjoy the privilege of autonomy through both Leonine Privilege and other privileges granted in the name of the Holy See. Furthermore, in addition to various Eastern and Orthodox lines, We possess the lines of Bishop Duarte-Costa in Brazil. We, therefore seek to preserve true and authentic Roman Catholicism with the Anglican patrimony that fell in part to us to preserve.

  This true Roman Catholicism is indeed "old" in that it was founded approximately two thousand years ago by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As much of the world turns from the unquestionably-authentic Catholic Faith, true Roman Catholicism is in fact becoming increasingly "old" by the day. Yet, true Roman Catholicism is not old in the sense of something that has seen its prime long ago and has faded into irrelevance. The Church of Christ knows neither time nor space. The Eternal Church and Eternal Rome, her primary See on earth, are a single continuum. The authentic liturgy is alive. It is not something fit only for a museum of Church history. It is here and there, all around us, ready to be experienced. Just as Our Lord lives, so too does the authentic liturgy of His Holy Church!


On the Novus Ordo

  It is beyond the scope of Our authority and the authority of the collective body of prelates and clergy within Our Particular Church to determine absolutely the issue of the validity of the Novus Ordo of the Roman Rite. Because of the reasonable grave doubt that We have pertaining to its authenticity as Catholic liturgy and indeed of its very validity, We do not permit its celebration within the See of Saint Stephen or any subordinate jurisdiction thereof. This grave doubt was shared by those Cardinals in Rome tasked with investigating the effects of the Novus Ordo mass and who gave their report to Pope Paul VI.

  We further discourage all within said Patriarchal See and subordinate jurisdictions from participating in Novus Ordo sacraments presented and provided by other Particular Churches.

  Notwithstanding the other aforementioned issues overall, the patrimony of Our Particular Church is such that the Novus Ordo further bears no relevance. Appearing to be an innovation of the late twentieth century with heavy influence of Protestantism and Freemasonry, there is little if anything about it that has any relation whatsoever to that which We have been entrusted to maintain. The traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Faith and the Anglican patrimony is that which we are bound to maintain.

  We are most sympathetic to those who must face the choice of attending a Novus Ordo mass or the traditional Mass of the Ages. Such is not an easy choice, but it is ultimately a simple choice. While we cannot be sure about the Novus Ordo mass, we have no doubts about those masses that follow the timeless principles of the Tridentine liturgical tradition.

  We in the Stephenian Patriarchate continue, firm in Faith, to preserve the traditional liturgy and Sacraments of the Church. We do this without regard to numbers, for we recall the words of Saint Athanasius, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church, that those Catholics, even if reduced to a handful, who maintain the traditions of the Catholic Church are the true Catholic Church. We do not presume to state that we and only we are the true Catholic Church, but firmly maintain that we are indeed a part of it. We must and will maintain that sacred liturgy and deposit of the Faith that is our solemn duty to maintain. It is not Our mere opinion or Our mere desire, but rather the words of Saints that have proclaimed the traditional liturgy. Rather, it is Our steadfast desire to subordinate Our will to that of God and humbly follow what has been codified and promulgated by Saints.

  We commend those other jurisdictions, communities, and Particular Churches that maintain the traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. Our prayers are extended to those who carry out this liturgy even amidst hostility from the liberals and modernists of the Church.


On the See of Saint Peter

  There are certainly many who, in the wake of the abuses following the Second Vatican Council, maintain that the See of Saint Peter is vacant since Pius XII. While We are sympathetic to those who hold this position, it is Our official position, which we are bound by the laws of Our office to maintain, that the See of Saint Peter is not vacant. We acknowledge that the Supreme Pontiff is, as a man, capable of committing heresy. We further acknowledge that there are mechanisms that exist to remove a Pope from office and do not presume take this decision upon Ourselves. We also acknowledge that a Pope, as a man, may sin and be forgiven of those sins through the same sacraments by which we may all obtain absolution from Almighty God.

  We reaffirm our belief in the Dogma of Papal Infallibility and acknowledge that it has been used only twice, both instances being used to define specific dogmae of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. (And it is further noted that, while the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined by Pius IX prior to the formal definition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility, it was, nevertheless, defined in a manner consistent with the prevailing beliefs of Infallibility that would eventually be formally defined by Pius IX himself.)

  We acknowledge the Bishop of Rome by his common reference title of Pope, and as the Supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ, and all his other titles. Our privilege of administrative independence does not deny or diminish our loyalty to the Eternal See of Peter, which is above and more than any one individual who may currently occupy the Chair. We, therefore, display the portrait of the reigning Supreme Pontiff within Our See and remember the reigning Pontiff at mass as a reminder of Eternal Rome.

  With regard to the recent canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II, we note that the Church does not "make" Saints, but merely recognizes those whom she reasonably believes indeed to meet the requirements for Sainthood. It is further beyond the scope of Our authority to rule on matters of Sainthood within the universal Church. Therefore, within Our See, We permit the veneration of both John XXIII and John Paul II. However, as neither is included within the liturgical calendar, said veneration is clearly an option, and therefore the issue of their canonization is entirely moot.

  We as Patriarch and all our successors take an oath of loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff. This we do in the sense of Eternal Rome. This very same oath charges us to carry out the duties we have been given. These duties are well outlined for Our office. These duties include vigilance against modernism, liberalism, and other heresy, and thus we cannot succumb to modernism, liberalism, and other heresy without violating that same oath that We took on Our knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, the very living Body of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


On the Roman Communion

  The Roman Communion is that body of Particular Churches under the direct administrative authority and control of the Bishop of Rome. This is regularly known as the Roman Catholic Church, and while we are content in general to assent to this vernacular terminology, with Our See being known as Old Roman Catholic or Anglican Rite Roman Catholic, We nevertheless remind all that We never left the Roman Catholic Church and remain faithful Roman Catholics. We simply are not administratively affiliated with the Roman Communion.

  We ever seek to maintain positive relations with the jurisdictions of the Roman Communion, including those that maintain the Novus Ordo. Any such disputes should not result in a loss of desire for eventual unity when such unity becomes legitimately possible, i.e., when all may once again be united under the banner of Christ and in the Blessed Sacrament through liturgy consistent with the traditions of the Church. In all cases We seek and promote charity and brotherhood with our brothers and sisters in Christ.


On the Doctrine of the Faith

  It is not for Our Patriarchate or any jurisdiction that enjoys legitimate autonomy of government to determine the Doctrine of the Faith. Rather, we are bound to follow the traditional Doctrine of the Faith and not impart our own ideas or innovations. Autonomy of government is never an excuse or license for modification of doctrine. As it is Our solemn duty to maintain the traditional liturgy of the Church, so too it is Our solemn duty to maintain the traditional Doctrine of the Faith upon which the liturgy is founded.

Given at the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham on the Feast of Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church, the 13th day of May in the two thousand fourteenth year of the Incarnation of Our Lord.

+Rutherford c.p.p. I



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