Union of Utrecht (Old Catholic)
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|Union of Utrecht|
|Metropolitan of Utrecht||Bernd Wallet|
|Associations||World Council of Churches|
Anglican Communion (since 1931)
|Origin||September 1889 |
|Separated from||Roman Catholic Church|
|Separations||Union of Scranton|
The Union of Utrecht (UU), or the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches, is a federation of Old Catholic churches, nationally organised from 1870 schisms which rejected Roman Catholic doctrines of the First Vatican Council; its member churches are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
The 1889 Declaration of Utrecht is one of three founding documents together called the Convention of Utrecht. Many provinces of the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches are members of the World Council of Churches; the UU is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden, the Anglican Communion through the 1931 Bonn Agreement; and, with the Philippine Independent Church, the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church, and the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church through a 1965 extension of the Bonn Agreement.
As of 2016,[update] the UU includes six member churches: the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands (OKKN), the Catholic Diocese of the Old Catholics in Germany, the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, the Old Catholic Church of Austria, the Old Catholic Church of the Czech Republic, and the Polish Catholic Church in Poland.[a]
Theology and practices
The Old Catholic churches reject the universal jurisdiction of the pope, as well as the Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility (1870), which was used to proclaim the Roman Catholic dogmas of the Assumption of Mary (1950). While Old Catholics affirm the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, they do not emphasize transubstantiation as the sole dogmatic explanation for this presence. Old Catholics generally refrain from using the filioque and deum de deo clauses in the Nicene Creed and also reject a dogmatic understanding of Purgatory; however, they generally do recognize a purification by Christ's grace after death and include prayers for the dead in their liturgy and devotions. They maintain such basic western Catholic practices as baptism by affusion (pouring of water) and the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist. Additionally, they have many aspects in common with the Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican churches, such as optional clerical celibacy. The Old Catholic Church accepts the doctrines of the Christian Church prior to the Great Schism of A.D. 1054.
Individual Union of Utrecht member churches maintain a degree of autonomy, similar to the practice of the Anglican Communion. Each diocese of the member churches has a diocesan bishop, and countries with more than one diocese have a bishop who is appointed as "bishop in charge" or a similar title. The primate (primus inter pares leader) of the union is the Archbishop of Utrecht (not to be confused with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht). From 2000 to 2020, the archbishop was Joris Vercammen, a former Roman Catholic who served on the central committee of the World Council of Churches. In 2020, Joris Vercammen was succeeded by Bernd Wallet.
The mother church, the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands, was established in the 18th century as a result of tensions between the local Catholic hierarchy and the Roman Curia. The other churches, such as the Catholic Diocese of the Old Catholics in Germany, and the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, followed suit after the First Vatican Council, which defined the dogma of papal infallibility.
Former member churches
In former Yugoslavia, the union had three organized Old Catholic episcopal jurisdictions: Old Catholic Church of Croatia (created in 1922-1923, first bishop Marko Kalojera consecrated in 1924 in Utrecht), Old Catholic Church of Slovenia (with bishops Radovan Jošt and Anton Kovačevič), and Old Catholic Church of Serbia (with bishop Milan Dobrovoljac (1954-1966). Three churches formed "Union of Old-Catholic Churches in Yugoslavia" (1954). The Union eventually ceased to exist with break-up of Yugoslavia (1991-1992) and even before that, old-catholic bishopric in Serbia was extinguished, and same happened with bishoprics in Slovenia and Croatia. Finally, remaining old-catholic parishes in Croatia and other parts of former Yugoslavia were placed under jurisdiction of the Old Catholic Church of Austria.
The International Old Catholic Bishops' Conference stated in 1997 that the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) was not full communion with other Union of Utrecht churches because the PNCC did not accept the ordination of women. Since 1998, the PNCC did not permit IBC bishops to participate in PNCC episcopal consecrations. The IBC stated in 2003 that full communion "could not be restored" and "effectively expelled" the PNCC. The PNCC "refused to repudiate" a 1976 IBC statement opposing the ordination of women and the PNCC "indicated that any attempt to admit women to the ministerial priesthood would lead to a break in full communion with churches that adopted the practice."
The Old Catholic Church of Austria approved the blessing of same-sex unions in 1998 without IBC deliberation; in contrast, the PNCC disapproved the blessing of same sex unions in 2002 and "described homosexual practice as sinful".
The Polish National Catholic Church established the Union of Scranton in 2008. No other North American body has been recognized by the IBC.
The Old Catholic Church of Slovakia was a member church of the Union of Utrecht from 2000 but it was removed from membership in 2004.
In July 2011, the Old Catholic Church of Switzerland ended its mission to Old Catholic parishes in Italy. "In cooperation with ecumenical partner churches" the parishes were "offered a model that guarantees their continued pastoral care".
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- Guretzki, David (2009). Karl Barth on the Filioque. Barth studies. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7546-6704-9.
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The Old Catholic Church numbers about 400,000 members worldwide and compromises those churches belonging to the Union of Utrecht. These churches accept the doctrines of the Church prior to 1054 (the year of the Great Schism which divided the Eastern and Western churches) and reject more modern doctrines such as the infallibility of the pope. Clergy may marry and...
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- Hrvatska starokatolička crkva: Naša povijest
- The Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches: Member Churches
- "Communiqué of the IBC meeting in Prague/CZ, 2003" (Press release). Amersfoort: Utrechter Union der Altkatholischen Kirchen. 2003-11-29. Archived from the original on 2016-05-01. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
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- Berlis, Angela (2008). "Women's ordination in the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht". In Jones, Ian; et al. (eds.). Women and ordination in the Christian churches: international perspectives. London [u.a.]: T & T Clark. pp. 145–149. ISBN 9780567031549.
- Weyermann, Maja (2011-06-21). "International Old Catholic Bishops Conference (IBC) withdraws from the parishes in Italy" (Press release). Utrecht, NL: Utrechter Union der Altkatholischen Kirchen. Archived from the original on 2016-04-30. Retrieved 2016-04-30.