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Our History

A Brief History of the Old Catholic Church


The Reformation made public worship for Catholics very difficult and often they had to "go underground" in order to survive. Eventually, the Archbishop of Utrecht and other Church leaders reached an informal agreement with civil authorities where the Catholic Church could again function openly without interference from the Reformers.

Following the First Vatican Council in 1869, where the hierarchy of the Church of Holland (Utrecht) was refused admittance, there was considerable dissent among Catholics in Holland, Poland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland over the newly-proclaimed dogma that the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) was infallible in matters of faith and morals. As a result, many formed independent communities that came to be known as Old Catholics. They were called Old Catholics because they sought to adhere to the beliefs and practices of the Church of the Apostolic Era. Eventually these independent Old Catholic communities joined together under the leadership of the Church of Holland. 
In 1908, Arnold Harris Matthew was consecrated Old Catholic Bishop of England. Thorough his efforts, the Old Catholic Church spread to United States and Canada.  In 1991, Bishop Maurice McCormick organized the Independent Old Catholic Church (IOCC) in the United States and today it has clergy in United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. The IOCC is presently led by Archbishop George H.W. LeMesurier of Ottawa, Canada.

The Diocese of Florida is led by Bishop Steven M. Harris. 

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Old Catholics accept the teachings of Scripture, the Early Church Creeds (Apostle's, Nicene and Athanasian) and the seven Ecumenical Councils of the universal Church.  Old Catholics trace their Apostolic Succession to the Apostles and participate in the full sacramental ministry of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
Old Catholics differ from Roman Catholicism in various ways:


  • Clerical celibacy is optional among Old Catholic clergy.

  • Our clergy may marry.

  • Men and women may be ordained.

  • Divorced and remarried persons are welcomed in the sacramental life of the Church.

  • Contraception is considered a personal decision and not a moral issue.  

  • Our liturgical expression/worship is a matter of discipline of local bishops, subject to the guidelines of the Canon Law of the IOCC.

  • We do not recognize the authority of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome (the Pope) in Old Catholic affairs.

  • Because the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is non-scriptural, the Old Catholic Church does not accept it.

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