Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Why is the church called the "Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite?"

1a. Why are you English Rite?
1b. Why are you Roman?
1c. Why are you Catholic?
1d. What is your relationship to the ancient Catholic Church?
1e. Is there such a thing as the Anglican Rite?
1f. What is the definition of Roman Catholicism?

2. What does it mean to be "Roman of the English Rite?"

2a. Are you Protestant?

3. Did the Old Roman Church of the English Rite ever leave the Catholic Church?

3a. How can you be autonomous and Catholic?
3b. Who granted autonomy?
3c. Did the See of Utrecht ever produce a Pope?

4. Are you "Episcopi vagantes?"

4a. Is "episcopi vagantes" a derrogatory term or hate phrase?

5, Are you a part of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops?

6, Do you recognize the USCCB?

7, Are you part of the Episcopal Church of the USA?

8. Do you recognize the Episcopal Church?

8a. What is your position on Apostolicae Curae?

9. Are you part of the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches?

9a. What is the difference between Old Roman Catholicism and Old Catholicism?
9b. Why did Archbishop Mathew separate the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain from the Utrecht Union?
9c. Can Old Roman Catholics compromise on matters of faith and doctrine?
9d. What is the Old Roman Catholic position on modernism and innovation in the Church?

10. Are you under direct Papal leadership?

10a. Are you similar to Archbishop Lefebvre?
10b. What about Papal Infallibility?

11. Doesn't "Roman" mean that you are under direct Papal administrative leadership?

11a. What is the Roman Communion?

12. Are you schismatic Roman Catholics?

12a. What is autonomy under Leonine Privilege?
12b. Does you recognize the Primacy of the Holy Father?
12c. What about the accusations of the Janenist heresy against Utrecht in the 17th century?

13. Are you part of the Continuing Anglican movement?

14. Why are you not part of the Anglican Ordinariate in the Roman Communion?

14a. Who was the Anglican Ordinariate intended for?
14b. Are Old Roman Catholic Sacraments considered valid by the Canon Law of the Catholic Church?

15. What is your position on the Declaration of Utrecht and the 14 Theses?

15a. What was the origin of the Declaration of Utrecht?

16. Why is the head of the Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite a Patriarch?

16a. How is your Patriarch chosen?
16b. Why do your Patriarch and Metropolitan use the pallium?
16c. What is the design of the pallium used by the Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite?

17. Why is your Patriarch a Cardinal?

18. I have never heard of Cardinals outside the Roman Communion. Isn't this rare?

18a. What are the Cardinals of the Cathedral of St. Paul (Church of England)?

19. I'm a Catholic in the Roman Communion. Some OHRCER and ORC customs in general seem different from what I am used to. Can you explain?

19a. Are there Roman Catholics outside the administrative structure of the Roman Communion?

20. Why are Bishops important?

21. Does the Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite teach and profess Catholic doctrine?

21a. Do you have all seven Sacraments?
21b. Is the doctrine you profess any different than that of the ancient Catholic Church?


Q: Why is the church called the "Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite?"

A: We are Old Roman Catholics in descent from the See of Utrecht who also have inherited the heritage of the English Church. ("[Utrecht] is a small independent Roman Catholic Church." Encyclopedia Britannica.) We are of the English Rite because we have heritage and additional Apostolic Succession from the ancient English (Anglican) Church, the original Anglican Rite (Use); and because some aspects of our liturgy is Anglican in style. We are Roman because we profess the same teachings as the Holy See in authentic exercise of her Magisterium; because our lines of Apostolic Succession were held in common with those of the Roman Communion until 1739, when Bishop Dominique-Marie Varlet, the Roman Catholic Titular Bishop of Ascalon, consecrated Peter John Meindaerts as Archbishop of Utrecht without Papal Bull, in accordance with the ancient Leonine Privilege; and because we use the pre-1955 Roman Rite Missale, the pre-Vatican II Rituale, and the Pontificale of Pope Leo XIII, with modifications only to include distinctly English tradition that does not conflict with the authentic teachings of the Church. While we often use the name "Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite" as a more direct translation of our Latin name, the older official English translation is "Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church." The two names are considered to be synonymous, and the use of either is considered correct.


Pope Saint Gregory the Great
sent Saint Augustine of Canterbury
to England in 595 to Christianize
the English pagan, thus establishing
the Catholic Church of England.

 

Q: Is there such a thing as the Anglican Rite?
A: Yes. The Anglican Church began when Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to England by the Pope to found the Catholic Church there in 595 A.D. The Anglican Rite was a distinct usage of the Roman Rite. (Novak, Rev. Victor E. "The Anglican Rite in Historical, Theological, and Ecumenical Perspective." Virtue Online.) In fact, several "uses" were developed in the English Church, one of the most famous of which being the Sarum Use (also known as the Sarum Rite). Within the modern Latin Rite, John Paul II established a distinct "Anglican Use" (instead of a Rite) for post-Reformation Anglicans joining the Roman Communion. This was continued by Benedict XVI and expanded into the Anglican Ordinariate (Roman Catholic - Anglican Form). Today there is no Anglican Rite within the Roman Communion.

Q: What is the definition of Roman Catholicism?
A: "The largest of the Christian denominations is the Roman Catholic church. As an institution it has existed since the 1st century AD...The name of the church is derived from its base in Rome and from a Greek term meaning 'universal.' The word Catholic refers to the wholeness of the church, and for many centuries the Roman church claimed to be the only true Christian denomination." (Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1996)

"Christian church characterized by its uniform, highly developed doctoral and organizational structure that traces its history to the apostles of Jesus Christ in the 1st century C.E." (Marriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions © 1999, page 938)

"The Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church recognizes the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ on this earth, and as the Head of the Church. It traces its origin from the naming of the Apostles Peter by Jesus as the chief of the Apostles . The authority of Peter as head of the Church is exercised by his successors as the Bishops of Rome. The doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church come from the faith given by Christ to his Apostles." (World Religions, By Benson Y. Landis, © 1957 Page 110)

Saint Augustine of Canterbury

Q: What does it mean to be "Roman of the English Rite?"
A: We are an Anglo-Roman Particular Church. We are not a Protestant community, separate church, or denomination. We reject modernism and every innovation, adhering instead to the historic doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church in the Apostolic period. We are Catholic by Leonine Privilege, by special favor of the Church, and because we derive our authority from Jesus Christ in unbroken succession from the Apostles through the Bishops; because our communion is confined neither to time nor space; and because we teach, profess, and preserve the Faith once delivered by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the Apostles.

Q: Did the Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite (or other Old Roman Catholic Churches) ever leave the Catholic Church?

A: Absolutely not. As Old Roman Catholics, we descend from the See of Utrecht, which was granted autonomy in 1145 by Pope Eugene III and confirmed in 1520 by Pope Leo X in the Bull Debitum Pastoralis, this right becoming known as the Leonine Privilege. The Church Councils in 1215 and 1717 further confirmed this right. It has also been confirmed by several more recent affirmations. Indeed, the See of Utrecht, from which we descend, provided a Pope, Hadrian VI, in 1522. For more on the Old Roman Catholic Church, please read this article.


The See of Utrecht was
first granted autonomy in 1145
by Blessed Pope Eugene III

Q: Are you "Episcopi vagantes?"
A: No. That term, meaning "wandering bishops," is often applied in a derogatory fashion against Old Roman Catholics and Old Catholics who do not know any better and sometimes even by those who ought to know better. Based on the autonomy granted to the See of Utrecht and further recognition of the status of that See and Old Roman Catholics, Old Roman Catholics continue rightly to claim licitness under Canon Law. Therefore, it is inappropriate to apply the term "episcopi vagantes" to Old Roman Catholic Bishops.

Q: Are you a part of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops?
A: No. We, as Roman Catholics stemming from the See of Utrecht with an historic independence of government, are not part of the USCCB.

Q: Do you recognize the USCCB?
A: Of course. We recognize the Bishops, clergy, and faithful under the USCCB as brother Catholics. We always seek a cooperative relationship wherever possible.

Q: Are you part of the Episcopal Church of the USA?
A: No. While the Episcopal Church includes the largest body of Anglican Churches in the USA, several Anglican jurisdictions continue legitimately to exercise their unique independent authority. Also, the Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite, while in the Anglican tradition due to parts of its specific heritage, is an Old Roman Catholic Patriarchate.

Q: Do you recognize the Episcopal Church?
A: Of course. Although Leo XIII declared purely Anglican orders to be null and void in Apostolicae Curae, we nevertheless recognize the members of the Episcopal Church as brothers in the Anglican tradition. We always seek a cooperative relationship wherever possible.


Pope Leo XIII

Q: Are you part of the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches?

A: No. We are in succession from Archbishop Mathew of England, consecrated in 1909 by Geraldus Gul, Archbishop of Utrecht, who separated from the Utrecht Union in order to preserve the orthodoxy of the Catholic Faith within Old Roman Catholicism. This was due to attacks within Utrecht against the Catholic Faith and in opposition to the decrees of the First Vatican Council. While "Old Catholic" is often used as a short version of "Old Roman Catholic," the term "Old Catholic" also refers to the movement begun in 1870 against, among other things, Papal Infallibility. This resulted in an eventual split between the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain and continental Old Catholics, which had caused the See of Utrecht to descend into modernism. Thus Utrecht was overwhelmed and forced to adopt many modernist practices and doctrines inconsistent with traditional Catholicism. True Old Roman Catholicism, the fruit of the venerable Church that was home to Saint Willibrord and Saint Boniface, lives on to this day. She does not adopt modernist doctrine and practices, compromise with Protestant theology, or compromise with or adopt non-Christian practices. Indeed, there is much similarity between the "Old Catholicism" from which Archbishop Mathew separated and the modernist form of Catholicism widely practiced today. (Read Archbishop Mathew's letter separating the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain from the Utrecht Union.)

 

 


Archbishop
Arnold Harris Mathew

Q: Are you under direct administrative Papal leadership?
A: No, we have independence of ecclesiastical government, as we descend from the See of Utrecht, which was granted autonomy in 1145 by Pope Eugene III and confirmed in 1520 by Pope Leo, this right becoming known as the Leonine Privilege. The Church Councils in 1215 and 1717 further confirmed this right. It has also been confirmed by several more recent affirmations. We do, however, profess a spiritual unity with Rome and accept the Bishop of Rome as First Among Equals, Vicar of Christ, Patriarch of the West, and head of the Universal Church on earth.

Q: Doesn't "Roman Catholic" mean that you are under direct administrative Papal leadership?

A: No. Today, the term "Roman Communion" has indeed come to mean churches administered directly by the Pope. However, Churches of the Old Roman Catholic tradition still exist that are not under administrative Papal direction. These Old Roman Catholic Churches descend from the See of Utrecht, which was granted independence of government by the Holy See in 1145. The Old Roman Church of the English Rite likewise descends from the See of Utrecht. Although the Old Roman Church of the English Rite is thus not part of the administrative structure of the Roman Communion, it recognizes the primacy of the Holy Father. This is quite different from the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches, which formally split from Rome in the East-West Schism, and the Old Catholic schism at the time of the First Vatican Council.


Pope Leo X, who confirmed the
autonomy of the See of Utrecht,
which then became known
as Leonine Privilege.


Saint Willibrord, First Bishop
of Utrecht, was consecrated
by Pope Sergius I.

Q: Are you schismatic Roman Catholics?
A: No. Most who make this argument do not understand the history. Neither are we ex-Catholics, former Catholics, or non-Catholics. Old Roman Catholicism is not, nor has it ever been, a sect or schism of the Catholic Church. Autonomy was granted to the See of Utrecht, from which we descend, in 1145 and confirmed many times since. Some, however, claim that Old Roman Catholics are heretics or schismatics, usually due to an accusation of the Jansenist heresy in the 17th century against Archbishop Codde, the Archbishop of Utrecht, by the Jesuits. Despite the fact this claim was never proven and Archbishop Codde was declared innocent, the baseless accusations continued. Through pressure of the Jesuits, Archbishop Codde was dismissed, which not only threatened the independence granted under Leonine Privilege by previous Popes and Councils, it caused division and misinformation at that time and which abounds to this day (The New Schaff-Herzog of Religious Knowledge). The Old Roman Church of the English Rite recognizes the primacy of the Pope as the head of the Church. Our priests pray for the Holy Father in the Canon of the Mass. We do, however, maintain our rights under Leonine Privilege as given and confirmed by Popes, Ecumenical Councils, and special favor of the Church. (For more information on the politics and situation of the accusations of the Jansenist heresy and Utrecht, please see H. Daniel-Rops. The Church in the Seventeenth Century. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1963)

Q: Are you part of the Continuing Anglican movement?
A: No. While our parent Anglican diocese was originally part of that movement in 1978, it has since embraced the fullness of the Catholic Faith through Old Roman Catholicism and is not a part of or associated with the Continuing Anglican movement or the Traditional Anglican movement, both of which typically reject the tenets of Roman Catholicism.

Q: Why are you not part of the Anglican Ordinariate in the Roman Communion?
A: The Ordinariate (Roman Catholic - Anglican Form) was created as a mechanism for corporate conversion by Anglicans, whose Holy Orders and Sacraments are not recognized as valid by the Holy See (see Apostolicae Curae, Leo XIII). Our Church is part of the Old Roman Catholic tradition, stemming from the See of Utrecht, with Holy Orders recognized as valid by the Holy See. (See Dominus Iesus, 2000, the Concordat of 1976, and Canon 844 Sec. 2).

Q: What is your position on the Declaration of Utrecht and the 14 Theses?
A: We adhere to traditional Roman Catholic doctrine and principles. Our guiding principles are Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the authentic Teaching Authority of the Universal Church. However, the Declaration is useful to study to gain understanding of conflicts arising in Catholicism after the First Vatican Council. Our Apostolic lineage in the Old Catholic line extends to before the Declaration in 1889, and our Particular Church has worked to reconcile the ultramontanist and the ultrajectine positions.

Q: Why is the head of the Old Roman Church of the English Rite a Patriarch?
A: A Patriarch is the senior-most bishop, providing pastoral leadership to all in his jurisdiction.

Q: How is your Patriarch chosen?
A: The Patriarch is elected by the Patriarchal Electors in accordance with the Code of Particular Canon Law. The Electors are prelates appointed by the Patriarch.

Q: Why do your Patriarch and Metropolitans use the pallium?

A: The pallium is a symbol of a Metropolitan or the Patriarch being in spiritual unity with the Apostolic See and sharing in the spiritual and jurisdictional authority of the Pope by having jurisdiction over a Particular Church.

Q: What is the design of your pallium?
A: The pallium in use by the Holy Roman Church of the English Rite is a white circular band that lays flat on the shoulder with lapits in the front and back, the ends of which are black. There are twelve black crosses embroidered on the pallium. Additionally, pallia granted by the Patriarchal See are third class relics of Saint Peter the Apostle, thus giving a direct sacred link to the Prince of the Apostles and the Apostolic See; of Blessed John Paul II, thereby furthering the Petrine linkage; and of Saint Stephen the Deacon and Protomartyr, thus providing a direct link to the Patron of our See.

Q: Why is the Patriarch a Cardinal?

A: Every branch of the Church follows its own customs in accordance with tradition. By the Code of Particular Canon Law, our Patriarch always holds the rank of Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria Antiqua in camera persona. The phrase in camera persona means that it is a special rank particular to this Church. Just as a Metropolitan historically shares in the authority of the Pope through the administration of a province, a Cardinal Patriarch similarly shares at the highest level. The physical Diaconal Church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome is an historic Roman Catholic church in the Roman Forum and no longer under direct Papal administrative jurisdiction. Click here for more about historic Cardinals of the Anglican Church.


Antonio Cardinal Barberini, source of the principal line of Apostolic Succession of the Old Roman Church of the English Rite, was created
Cardinal at age 20.

Q: I have never heard of Cardinals outside the administrative framework of the Roman Communion. Isn't this unique?

A: Cardinals are indeed found in Old Roman Catholicism. It is also not uncommon for Old Roman Catholic Patriarchs to use the styles and identical scarlet dress of a Cardinal, whether or not they hold that specific title. This is seen among certaain Prince Archbishops and Primates within the Roman Communion as well. Noteworthy among these is the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg. Also worth noting is that, until the late middle ages, principal priests in churches outside Rome also used the style of Cardinal. Cardinals in fact become Cardinals immediately upon publication of their elevation in any form (Pius V. 1571; Gregory XV Decet, Bullarium Romanum, XII) Read more about that and more in the history of Cardinals.


The future Pope Julius II seen here (left) at age 34
as a Cardinal with his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV (right).
It was Julius II who granted Henry VIII's dispensation to
marry his brother's widow, Catharine of Aragon, and who
later refused Henry VIII's petition to annul his marriage.

Q: What are the Cardinals of the Cathedral of St. Paul (Church of England)?
A: The two senior-most minor canons of the Cathedral of St. Paul in London, which is now part of the post-Reformation Church of England, are titled as Cardinal. There is a Senior Cardinal and a Junior Cardinal. See more here.

Q: I'm a Catholic in the Roman Communion. Some customs of the Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite and of Old Roman Catholicism in general seem different from what I am used to. Can you explain?
A: Old Roman Catholicism is currently a relative minority within worldwide Catholicism. Thus, some Roman Catholics within the Roman Communion may not be aware that there are Roman Catholics outside the Roman Communion. Unfortunately human nature is such that people often focus on superficial differences and use them to create disunity and conflict. Church traditions naturally grow and evolve, sometimes into different branches with similar basic tenets and sufficiently different customs that make them unique. Liturgical practices of the Old Roman Church of the English Rite are virtually identical to those of the Tridentine Rite, with the inclusion of certain distinct aspects of Anglican tradition.

Q: Why are Bishops important?
A: Because they are the successors of the Apostles, and they possess the fullness of Christ's Priesthood. Our Church is organized like the historic Church has always been, and that is top down. You can have a Church with one Bishop and no other clergy, but even a church of 100 priests would be a highly deficient church if there was no Bishop. All authority to minister in the local Church stems from the Bishop under whom the priests function.

Q: Does the Old Roman Church of the English Rite teach and profess Catholic doctrine?
A: Yes. In particular, our principal Catechism, the Southwest Anglo-Catholic Catechism (also known as the Catechism of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church), is based on the Baltimore Catechism, a standard catechism of the Roman Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council. As Old Roman Catholics who received and inherited the true doctrine of Catholicism, the Old Roman Church of the English Rite preserves that doctrine, as well as the seven Sacraments of the Holy Mass, Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Penance, Matrimony, and Unction.

 

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