The Community Catholic
 Church of Canada

An Inclusive and Progressive Community in the Catholic/Anglican Tradition


A little Background



Prepared by the Most Rev. Arthur C. Keating

1. I’ve heard of Roman Catholics and Ukrainian Catholics, but the Community Catholic Church is new to me.

The Community Catholic Church of Canada finds its roots in the tradition of the Old Catholic Church, a network of  autonomous churches brought together in the Union of Utrecht (1889) after their break from the Roman Church because of innovations introduced by that church. Many also trace their origin from the many ethnic Eastern (Oriental) Catholic Churches which separated from the Church of Rome by the schism of 1054.
        The Christian church was called “catholic” because, first, it was not intended to be confined to one place, time or nation, and, secondly, because it was meant to comprise and embrace all correct teaching received by it from the Apostles and to be preserved by the Church for all times. Today, the word “orthodox” meaning correct teachings is often placed before the word “catholic” to distinguish those churches which have held that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all, from the Roman Catholic Church, which they feel has deviated from the true teachings.

2. What are these orthodox teachings?

We worship God in the Trinity, glorifying equally the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, begotten before all ages,
and that he is of one essence with the Father. We believe that Christ incarnate is
truly man, like us in all respects except sin. We worship the Holy Spirit as Lord
and Life-giver, who proceeds from the Father, 

We honour and venerate the saints and ask their intercession before God. Of
the saints, Mary, the Holy Mother of God (Holy Theotokas), holds a special place.

We recognize seven sacraments (or mysteries):

Baptism and Confirmation (Chrismation) are the two sacraments essential for
full acceptance into the Church of Christ.

In the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist we partake in the true body and blood of
Christ in the forms of bread and wine for the remission of sins, the healing of body
and soul, and for eternal life. 

 Confession is the fourth essential sacrament in the life of all Christians. In the
sacrament of Confession, Christ gives us the forgiveness of sins after Baptism
if we truly repent of them. Absolution for minor transgressions may be obtained
during the penitential rite at the Holy Eucharist and at other services. 

 Holy Ordination, Holy Matrimony and Holy Unction complete the seven. By the
laying-on-of-hands, a Bishop transmits Divine Grace to the individual being ordained,
linking him through the continuing flow of grace that descended on the Apostles at
Pentecost, to the uninterrupted succession of clergy of the one, holy, apostolic,
orthodox and catholic Church. By Holy Unction the priest asks God to send down
healing power upon the body and soul of an individual.

3. In answer to my first question you mentioned the Union of Utrecht,
 what was that?

In the latter part of the seventeenth century the Church of Utrecht in the Netherlands
as engaged in a political struggle with the Jesuit order. It is alleged that this order
was trying to gain control of the church as their own “missionary territory” by accusing
it of the heresy “Jansenism”. 

Jansenism was based on a book called The Augustinius; or the Doctrine of St. Augustine
on the Health, Sickness and Medicine of the Soul
(1640) in which the author, Bishop
Cornelius Jansen, a Flemish theologian, had taken to task the teaching of a Spanish
Jesuit Molina (1558). When Bishop van Neercassel of the See of Utrecht died in 1686,
his position was left vacant by Rome for a lengthy period with no bishop to administer confirmation or to ordain new clergy. 

The true break with Rome came in 1713 when the Papal Bull “Unigenitus” by Pope
Clement XI was issued. The Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht in 1723 elected Cornelius
van Steenover, who was then consecrated in 1724 by Dominic Marie Varlet, the Bishop
of Babylon, who was staying in the Netherlands. 

This was the beginning of what was called “The Roman Catholic Church of the Old
Episcopal Party”, to be later known as “The Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands”.

 In 1870, when the First Vatican Council ended abruptly, many German, Swiss and
Austrian groups opposed to the declaration of Papal infallibility, looked to the Old
Catholic Church in Holland for support, leadership and Episcopal orders and formed
with the Church of Utrecht the “Union of Utrecht”. In later years other churches
became “Old Catholic” joining or receiving Apostolic Succession from churches in
the Union, which they believed followed the true or orthodox catholic faith.

4. How was the Community Catholic Church of Canada formed?

The Community Catholic Church of Canada traces its Apostolic Succession
from the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands as well as the Syrian Orthodox Catholic
Church of Antioch. The church arose from groups meeting in Hamilton beginning in
1934 which were affiliated with the Liberal Catholic Church and the North American
Old Catholic Church. 

The Old Catholic Church became autonomous in 1948 with the consecration of Bishop
George Davis and was incorporated as an independent national church in 1960.
The Presiding Bishop is The Most Rev. Deborah Vaughan.

5. Are there other independent catholic churches in Canada?

Yes, there are several Old Catholic groups in Canada. The better known are the  Polish
National Catholic Church, and the Liberal Catholic Church of Ontario, now functioning
under the umbrella of Christ Catholic Church International.

6. I’m a divorced Roman Catholic, would I be able to receive the
sacraments in the Community Catholic Church of Canada?

The Chapter of Bishops has seen no reason to withhold the sacraments to a sincere
 believer who has been validly baptized. Using the principle of the Roman Catholic
“internal forum solution”, Old Catholic priests will remarry those who have had a
civil divorce, but will draw the line if the person has been through the divorce courts
 several times.

This means that in good conscience and in good faith, after considering
all the factors, the divorced person(s) is (are) convinced that the first marriage was
not a sacrament and therefore he or she would be free to contract the sacrament validly.

7. I’m a single mother who has approached several Roman Catholic priests
to have my child baptized and have been refused each time. Will a
Community Catholic priest do this for my child?

The Roman Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared on
October 20, 1980 that a priest cannot refuse to baptize a child without delay. In 
the Community Catholic Church of Canada you would not be met with such a refusal.

8. I had my child baptized by a Community Catholic priest, but when I
went to the Catholic (Roman) School to enroll my child they wouldn’t
accept the baptismal certificate and sent me to the parish priest, who
wouldn’t accept it either. Why was this?

While it is acceptable for the Catholic elementary school staff not to be familiar with
their Church’s Canon Law, the same is not acceptable for a priest. He should know that
all valid baptisms are recognized by the Roman Church, even those of some Protestant
churches, and a baptism is ordinarily proved by a baptismal certificate.

Rome regards Old Catholic Churches in the same manner as it views the Eastern
Orthodox Churches; their sacraments are valid
. It is important to take note however
that the RomanCatholic schools are only mandated to accept Roman Catholic students,
members of the Community Catholic church are not necessarily eligible for admission

9. Are your priests permitted to marry?

In 305 A.D. the Council of Elvira in Spain, while not forbidding marriage, passed the
first decree on celibacy for all bishops, priests and those who served on the altar.
Pope Siricius in 385, commanded celibacy for bishops, priests and deacons. 

Then in 1123, the First Lateran Council forbade clergy to marry and decreed that
those who had must dissolve their unions. None of these edicts were decisions by an
ecumenical council of all the Christian Churches in Apostolic Succession. In fact the
ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 decided not to ban priests from marriage. 

All clergy in the Community Catholic Church of Canada may marry if they wish to do so, either before or after ordination or consecration. 

10. Do you have religious orders?

As in the Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches we too permit the formations of groups or open societies of religious. Both orders or societies are “mixed” rather than “contemplative”, that is engaged in prayer and other works.

11. We are a married Catholic working couple in our late twenties and are saving for a down payment on a house, so we practice birth control. Would we be denied the sacraments in your Church for continuing this?

No, The Community Catholic Church of Canada, being far less restrictive, believes that family planning by mutual consent is a matter of individual mind and conscience.

12. What is your Church’s attitude towards dancing, gambling and alcoholic beverages?

The Church is non-puritianical in most respects believing that Almighty God intended men and women to enjoy life in all its aspects without such excesses that would harm or bring disrepute to themselves or to others.

13. What is your Church’s stand on homosexuality?

God created all people. They are all aspects of His creation and Christ taught that the quality of our relationship with one another is the important thing.

The Church was not founded by Christ to judge an individual’s worthiness but to remind mankind that each one is responsible to Almighty God for one’s own conduct with the proper use of one’s conscience and intellect. Read Matthew 7:1,2; John 7:24; the First Letter of our teacher Paul to the Corinthians 4;3,4; and, his Letter to the Romans 2:1.

The Community Catholic Church of Canada allows gays and lesbians to participate fully in and receive all the sacraments of the church including Holy Ordination and Holy Matrimony. 

14. How does the Community Catholic Church of Canada view the Scriptures?

I take it that by Scriptures you mean what we call The Holy Bible with Apocrypha. Today, the various translations published reflect a high degree of scholarship and contain fewer errors of translation that they did in the past. Therefore, which edition of The Bible does not matter as much as it did. The Community Catholic Church of Canada encourages the search for meaning through Biblical exegesis and the reading of the works of the Fathers of the Church. It does not support the so-called “scientific creationists” who attempt to distort scientific findings to mirror the Book of Genesis, but supports the “theistic evolutionists”, who believe that God is the ultimate creator and evolution the process through which his creation is manifest.

15. What is your Church’s attitude towards war?

We concede with the Church Father, St. Augustine, who differentiated just from unjust wars by condemning aggressive wars for territorial expansion and by insisting that war is morally defensible only when it is waged for the common good and to achieve peace.

16. Can the children of “Old Catholics” attend Roman Catholic schools?

We cannot give a “yes” or a “no” response because it depends on the school laws in the particular province in which you reside. In Ontario, if one of the parents is “Roman Catholic” and the parents pay separate school taxes - “yes”.

17. Do your Churches use the Roman Catholic Missal for its Services?

Each parish community determines its style and liturgical practice. The services or Liturgy are based on the Tridentine Roman Ritual, the Service Books of the Eastern Church, or the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, usually in the language of the majority of the people attending. Latin may be used for those from the Roman Ritual and Greek is permitted for Eastern Rite services.

18. Are holy water and incense used in your services?

Holy water may be used at certain times during the Holy Eucharist and other services, as a symbol of cleansing as well as a reminder of how we were cleansed from sin at baptism.
Incense has been and is used in the religious ceremonies of both non-Christian and Christian religions. It was used in ancient Egypt, in Israel, in China, and in the rituals of the Babylonians, Hindus and Buddhists. Since the fourth century it has been employed in orthodox churches both Eastern and Western, as symbolic cleansing and symbolic prayer rising up to Heaven.

19. How does your church view abortion?

This is a difficult, complex question to answer. As does every Christian Church we teach against the deliberate killing of another human being and the termination of a pregnancy as a means of family planning. In each case, the term “abortion” has to be defined precisely and the circumstances have to be assessed medically as well as theologically when making ethical decisions.

The Church was not founded by Christ to judge an individual’s worthiness but to remind humankind that each one is responsible to Almighty God for one’s own conduct with the proper use of one’s conscience and intellect. Read Matthew 7:1,2; John 7:24; the First Letter of our teacher Paul to the Corinthians 4:3,4; and his Letter to the Romans 2:1.

20. Can I obtain an indulgence by special devotions?

We reject as having no warrant from either tradition or the Holy Bible, the Roman Catholic teachings about indulgences or a treasury of merit.

21. May women be ordained priests in your Church?

The first women priest in the OCCC was ordained on March 29, 1999. Like many other Old Catholic Churches we could find no theological or scriptural reasons for not ordaining women who had the necessary education and training.

The Mother Church, the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands ordained a woman to the priesthood the same year. Dr. Joan Morris, an historian, found that several Popes in the medieval times permitted the ordination and consecration of women. Dr. Ilda Raming, another historical scholar, found that the ecclesiastical law restricting ordination baptized males was based on forgeries, mistaken identities and suppression of historical facts by male-centred curia in Rome.

22. If you don’t believe in “papal infallibility” how can you call yourselves “Catholic”?

 In the early days of Christianity in the cities of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and later on Constantinople, were founded “families” of the Christian Church by various apostles. The bishops of these cities were in time called “patriarchs” (the head of families). Before the schism of 1054 between east (Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem) and west (Rome) by divine right all of the bishops were inherently equal.

All of them in council decided on all matters relating to teaching, faith and morals not the Pope (Father) of Rome who was but considered to be “the first among equals”. That the Pope of Rome is the “supreme pontiff (bishop)” is an invention of Rome to usurp power.

23. What are the orthodox catholic teachings regarding the Immaculate Conception and the Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary?

There is no tradition in the Eastern Churches for the belief that the Holy Mother was born without original sin, although the Eastern tradition tends to the belief that she committed no voluntary sin during her lifetime.

The bodily assumption of the Blessed Mother is a reverent and pious tradition which many in the orthodox catholic churches respect. However, neither the Immaculate Conception nor the Bodily Assumption are recognized as dogmas, that is, required to be believed for our salvation.