they'll know we are Christians by our love

More About Independent Catholicism

We are a sacramental Christian church sharing the riches of the Catholic Christian tradition.

When people hear the word "catholic" they automatically think "Roman Catholic," and this is understandable. Most Catholics people encounter are of the Roman variety and Roman Catholicism is the largest single body of Christians in the U.S. But, in fact, Roman Catholics are not the only kind of Catholics in the world and never have been.

The most visible Catholic churches of the non-Roman variety are the many Eastern Orthodox churches, which are largely national in origin. The Russian Orthodox, the Byzantine Catholic, the Armenian Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and many others - all are Catholics, and all are completely independent of Rome. They call themselves "autocephalous" (self-headed), which simply means, "appointing its own leaders."

There are non-Roman Catholics in the West as well. The world-wide Old Catholic Communion broke from the Roman Church in 1724 and has member churches in many European countries. Similarly, the Anglican Communion of churches extends to nearly every country on earth. They have the unusual distinction of being both Protestant and completely Catholic.

Independent Catholics are the fastest-growing variety of Catholics in the West. We are found in nearly every city of every state in the U.S. and Mexico, every Province of Canada, and throughout Australia, Europe, and South America. Many pockets of Independents look very much like Romans, some very much like Orthodox, and some very much like Anglicans. And that is to be expected. Many of our members come from these various jurisdictions.

As one might expect from the label “Independent,” the Independent Catholic Movement does not come under the authority of the Pope or the Roman Catholic Church. However, independent churches still claim the label Catholic, which comes from a Greek word, katholikos. This word means ‘universal’ and describes any community that takes part in the universal church under Jesus Christ. It also often suggests a particular approach to Christianity — sacramental, ecclesial, led by bishops, and concerned with tradition in addition to Scripture. There are several precedents for this kind of autonomous Catholicism, not least of which being Eastern Orthodoxy. The Orthodox claim to be part of the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” by confessing the Nicene Creed, and they are self-governed, looking to several significant Patriarchs (especially the Patriarch of Constantinople) for guidance. The Anglican Church, which began as the Church of England under Henry VIII, is also part of the Catholic tradition and has a long history of independence from any one governing authority. Independent Catholic communities run the gamut from very conservative to very liberal, with a variety of different theologies and liturgical traditions.

Independent Catholicism is part of a much larger movement which includes Independent Orthodox and Independent Anglican churches. All three groupings are very broad, including those who have left Roman Catholicism, canonical Orthodoxy, or the Anglican Communion because they believe these churches have drifted either too far to the left, or too far to the right. However, it is also important to note that the barriers between Independent Catholicism, Independent Orthodoxy, and Independent Anglicanism are much more permeable than the borders between their canonical cousins. It is not uncommon to find priests who began as Independent Anglicans but now practice as Catholics under Independent Catholic bishops. There are also some jurisdictions and parishes that straddle the line, describing themselves as “Catholic Orthodox” and incorporating elements from both liturgical or theological traditions.

Christian unity is an important concern to Independent Catholic communities and something very much hoped for. Ecclesiastical and intercommunion agreements between the various jurisdictions are not uncommon. Because some of these groups are quite liberal, while others can be even more traditional than their mainline counterparts, these ecclesiastical affiliations do not require from either jurisdiction the acceptance of all doctrinal opinions, sacramental devotion, or liturgical practice characteristics of the other, but merely implies each believes the other to hold all essential elements of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith.

In addition to serving an unchurched public, these independent groups often provide an alternative for people from Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican traditions who feel alienated from their mother churches or who have "impediments" preventing them from receiving the sacraments. This is especially the case for those, who for whatever reason, have no church home and are in need of the services of a legally ordained member of the Catholic Clergy in valid Apostolic Succession. Most Independent Catholic Churches also wish to reach out to those from the various and sundry other Protestant and “non-Catholic” Christian traditions who are seeking to embrace a form of sacramental spirituality. The insistent emergence of those who feel rejected or alienated from mainstream Christianity dictate that we bring about revolutionary methods of ministering to those in need.

We are Catholic churches in the ancient, universal, sense of that word as well as in our form of sacramental worship. Our priests perform the liturgy and administer the seven sacraments, though each priest and bishop is given considerable flexibility in this.


O.SS.T. Priests, Brothers, and Sisters...

We lay down our lives... before God, for others.