Liberal Catholic Church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The names Liberal Catholic Church (LCC) and Liberal Catholic movement are used by a number of separate Independent Catholic denominations throughout the world descending from James I. Wedgwood, which combine Catholic sacramental practices with freedom of belief, and in particular openness to theosophical ideas.[1][2]



The Liberal Catholic Church was founded by J. I. Wedgwood and Charles Webster Leadbeater, two Theosophists. Wedgwood had been consecrated as a bishop in 1916 in England by Frederick Samuel Willoughby; Willoughby had been consecrated as bishop by Arnold Harris Mathew of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain, but had later been disowned by Mathew. Wedgwood then travelled to Australia and ordained and consecrated Leadbeater.[3][4][5]

Wedgwood established the Liberal Catholic Church in the USA in 1917.[3] Wedgwood says that during the existence of the early unified Liberal Catholic Church, he created the Liberal Rite.[6] Following accusations of sexual misconduct with juveniles, in 1919, Wedgwood resigned from the Theosophical Society and the Liberal Catholic Church.[7]

Liberal Catholic Church International[edit]

In 1947, a part of the LCC split due to the controversy over the suspension of an LLC bishop. This independent split is named Liberal Catholic Church International (LLCI), and despite its name it is only present in the USA.[3]

Both the LLC and the LLCI "describe themselves as the Liberal Catholic Church or the Liberal Catholic Church in the Province of the United States and both claim 'official' status as the true church. Both the LCC (the international body) and the LCCI (the American body) have similarities and differences, but the critical distinction lies in the succession of bishops".[3]

Young Rite[edit]

In 2006, former LCC Presiding Bishop Johannes van Alphen consecrated Markus van Alphen. Alphen, in turn, established the Young Rite. Bishop Johannes himself eventually joined the Young Rite, serving there until his death. Among the tenets of the Young Rite was the belief that all possessed a path to the priesthood, and anyone requesting ordination should receive it.[8] This practice was abandoned in the United States after Markus van Alphen's retirement and with the establishment of the Community of Saint George, a Young Rite jurisdiction. Young Rite USA now requires a multi-year formation program for its clergy.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Liberal Catholic Church". Oxford Reference.
  2. ^ Whalen, William J., Separated Brethren: A Survey Of Protestant, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Other Denominations in the United States, 1979, p. 153
  3. ^ a b c d Beauregard, E. E.; Hayes, P. J. (2002). "LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH". New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8: Jud-Lyo (2nd ed.). Gale. pp. 539–40.
  4. ^ "Liberal Catholic Church". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 2024-01-06.
  5. ^ Tillett, Gregory John. Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 : a biographical study. University of Sydney. p. 590.
  6. ^ Wedgwood, James Ingall (1937). The Beginnings of the Liberal Catholic Church: February 13, 1916 (3rd ed.). St. Alban Press. We set to work to eliminate the many features which from our point of view disfigure and weaken the older liturgies. References to fear of God, to His wrath and to everlasting damnation were taken out, also the constant insistence on the sinfulness and worthlessness of man and the frequent appeals for mercy. The services were made as clear and free from repetition in their structural sequence as possible. And every opportunity was given to the congregation to join in the worship with all the resources of mind and will and emotion and self-dedication they were able to command. The sentiments put into the mouth of the worshiper are such as those who are filled with the spirit of devotion and service can honestly and sincerely utter.... It stresses the idea of co-operation with the Divine Father rather than that of supplication, and being outward-turned in the service of God and His world soon enables a man to realize something of the boundless resources of his own being. They are his by right and not simply by grace.
  7. ^ Tillett, Gregory (2016) [1982]. The Elder Brother: A Biography of Charles Webster Leadbeater. Routledge. pp. 192–193. ISBN 978-1-317-31132-4.
  8. ^ Bate, Alistair (2009). A Strange Vocation: Independent Bishops Tell Their Stories. Berkeley, CA: The Apocryphile Press. ISBN 978-1933993751.
  9. ^ "Education (Celebrants)". YoungRiteUSA. Retrieved 2023-02-28.

Further reading[edit]