Union of Utrecht (Old Catholic)
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|Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches|
|Leader||Archbishop Joris Vercammen, Metropolitan of Utrecht|
|Associations||Anglican Communion (since 1931)|
|Separated from||Roman Catholic Church|
The Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches (UU) 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. The UU is in full communion with 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 Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility and reject Roman Catholic ex cathedra dogmas, namely the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. 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 basic Roman Catholic practices such 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 and Anglican churches and Eastern-rite Catholicism, such as optional clerical celibacy.
UU member churches tend to maintain a more liberal theological anthropology than the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, many UU member churches ordain women to the priesthood. Angela Berlis was the first woman priest in the union, ordained in 1996 for the Catholic Diocese of the Old Catholics in Germany. In addition, the churches of the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland offer the blessing of same-sex unions. The individual's primacy of conscience in ethical matters is stressed. Private confession is not mandatory, though it is practiced, and decisions regarding the use of artificial contraception are individual and discretionary.
Individual UU member churches maintain a degree of autonomy, similar to the practice of the Anglican Communion. Each diocese of UU 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 UU is the Archbishop of Utrecht (not to be confused with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht). The current primate, Since 2000[update], is Joris Vercammen, a former Roman Catholic and served on the central committee of the World Council of Churches.
The mother church, the OKKN, 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, UU 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 IBC stated in 1997 that the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) was not full communion with other UU member 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 PNCC established the Union of Scranton in 2008. No other North American body has been recognized by the IBC.
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".
- "History". utrechter-union.org. Utrecht, NL: Utrechter Union der Altkatholischen Kirchen. Archived from the original on 2016-03-22.
- "Catholic Diocese of the Old-Catholics in Germany". oikoumene.org. Geneva: World Council of Churches. Archived from the original on 2016-02-20. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
- "Old-Catholic Church in Austria". oikoumene.org. Geneva: World Council of Churches. Archived from the original on 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
- "Old-Catholic Church in the Netherlands". oikoumene.org. Geneva: World Council of Churches. Archived from the original on 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
- "Old-Catholic Church of Switzerland". oikoumene.org. Geneva: World Council of Churches. Archived from the original on 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
- "Polish Catholic Church in Poland". oikoumene.org. Geneva: World Council of Churches. Archived from the original on 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
- Berlis, Angela (n.d.). "Relations with the Anglican Church". utrechter-union.org. Translated by Conklin, Daniel G. Utrecht, NL: Utrechter Union der Altkatholischen Kirchen. Archived from the original on 2016-04-28. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
- "Member Churches". utrechter-union.org. Utrecht, NL: Utrechter Union der Altkatholischen Kirchen. Archived from the original on 2016-04-10. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
- Guretzki, David (2009). Karl Barth on the Filioque. Barth studies. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7546-6704-9.
- "Communiqué of the IBC meeting in Breslau/PL 2000" (Press release). Utrecht, NL: Utrechter Union der Altkatholischen Kirchen. 2000-07-29. Archived from the original on 2016-05-02. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- "Archbishop Joris Vercammen". oikoumene.org. World Council of Churches. Archived from the original on 2008-07-09.
- 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.
- Orzell, Laurence J. (May 2004). "Disunion of Utrecht: Old Catholics fall out over new doctrines". Touchstone. Chicago: Fellowship of St. James. 17 (4). ISSN 0897-327X. Archived from the original on 2004-08-30.
- Berlis, Angela (2008). "Women's ordination in the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht". In Jones, Ian; et al. 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.