Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Old Roman Catholic Church: Current Developments

Revised:  18 January, A.D. 2002
St. Peter's Chair at Rome
St. Prisca, Virgin & Martyr

    By the middle of this century, during the reign of the saintly Pope Pius XII, the intellectual climate had changed and there was no longer any any demand by the Holy See for unreasoned condemnations of third parties. Jansenism had long been reduced to a footnote in the history texts,1 and post-war Rome seemed to have lost interest in perpetuating the theoretical conflict that caused it to originate the separation in the 17th century. Seemingly having lost its reason for existence, the Old Roman Catholic hierarchy determined that no new priests would be ordained and no bishops would be consecrated -- on the assumption that Roman priests and bishops would provide for the spiritual needs of all the Faithful. At their beginnings, the pontificate of Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council were viewed as favorable signs.2

    Regrettably, however, Vatican II and its postconciliar developments were a serious disappointment to all those Catholics concerned with preserving the Deposit of Faith and Morals given to Peter and the Apostles by our Lord.3   The greatest tragedy was the disruption of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other Sacraments. Radically corrupted by "ecumenism," and poorly translated into modern languages, the liturgical books no longer guarantee the Catholic Faith. The "law of prayer being the law of belief," many modern Catholics are unaware of (or positively disbelieve) the sacrificial nature of the Mass and the Real Presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament -- the Sunday morning service has been reduced to a communal gathering. And, thirty-odd years later there is no sign that any of the errors of the Council are to be corrected. From the highest to the lowest levels of the hierarchy, the only prescription for the few evils that are admitted to be plaguing the Mystical Body is another infusion of what afflicted It to begin with -- all that anything needs is a little bit more of "the correct interpretation of the principles of Vatican II"!

    Among the Vatican II era bishops there were only a handful who resisted the movement away from Catholicism. In the early days of the resistance there were a fair number of priests who remained orthodox, a number of Catholic men hoping to study for the priesthood, and even a bishop or two who promised to ordain them. But no conciliar bishop was willing to provide for the Church's future by consecrating truly Catholic bishops. One European bishop tried to arrange for an Old Catholic bishop to ordain the future priests of his Society (an idea quickly rejected by his membership). An Asian bishop found a mad man or two upon whom to lay hands; quickly retreating back to the New Order as one of his creations claimed then to be pope!4

    Some rethinking of the decision to leave everything in the hands of Rome was obviously in order. Modernism had clearly replaced Jansenism as the topic of the discussion -- and if there is a "left" and a "right" to such things, Rome was clearly leaning toward the left. If nothing else, provision had to be made to secure the Mass and the Sacraments, along with the principles of faith and morals, for future generations of the Catholic people.

    To this end, Archbishop Gerard G. Shelley, head of the Old Roman Catholic Church, together with his priests and bishops, approved a new Constitution to renew the Old Roman Catholic Church and allow it to cope with its contemporary mission. This Constitution, ratified in 1976, and subsequently amended, reaffirms our acceptance of traditional Catholic doctrine, morals, and worship. Through it, we acknowledge the primacy and infallibility of the Holy Father, while providing for the Faithful who wish to maintain the traditions of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

    Archbishop Shelley's intentions are clearly seen in the mandate that he issued for the consecration of his successor, the current titular Archbishop of Caer Glow and Bishop of Florida:

    In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
By these presents be it known to all concerned that in view of the ever-growing spiritual needs of the historic and canonical Old Roman Catholic Church in the ecclesiastical Province of Florida, which by the will of God in fulfillment of the inscrutable designs of His providence, has brought together in wondrous fashion an ever-increasing number of the Faithful who ardently desire to maintain the fullness of the traditional Catholic faith and practice, it has become incumbent upon the Bishops of the Church to take these paramount needs into consideration and to provide for the future of the Church in the Apostolic manner. Accordingly, after due reflection in humble submission to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the Bishops of the Primatial Synod, rejoicing with the angels of Heaven at the steadfast fidelity of so many devout persons to the ancient and ever-living traditions of the true Catholic Faith and practice, have deemed it necessary to meet these paramount and to raise to the sacred order of the Episcopate their beloved priest and brother in Christ, the Right Reverend John J. Humphreys, investing him with full jurisdiction in the ecclesiastical Province of Florida, and in any other area of North America, should existing circumstances require, to the honor and glory of God and the benefit of His holy Church.5

    The doctrinal position of the Old Roman Catholic Church has often been unknown, misunderstood, or misrepresented by many who are not of this Communion. There have even been those who have deliberately distorted our theological and canonical position -- for reasons known only to themselves. To correct any misinterpretation of what we Old Roman Catholics believe, our bishops and priests, meeting as the Twelfth General Council of the Old Roman Catholic Church, held at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Paul (Roman Catholic) in Newton, New Jersey, on April 27-28, 1973, made the following unanimous declaration:

    This General Council reaffirms that it holds and teaches all that is held and taught by the Roman Catholic Church on matters of Faith and morals.

    Clearly, then, lest there be further misunderstanding, we hold and teach the Catholic Faith without any reservations, condemning all heresies condemned by Rome, and teaching even those doctrines which have been declared by Roman Pontiffs since this Communion has been cut off from the spiritual ministrations of our Holy Father the Pope: The Immaculate Conception of our Lady, and Papal Infallibility, and the Assumption of our Lady.

    (1) Paradoxically, the last remaining bastions of Jansenism are found among some of those claiming to be "traditionalists," and who are among our most vocal critics.
    (2) A realistic evaluation of Vatican II and the postconciliar era is found in the Christian Counter-Revolution Bulletin, Box 369, Lake Worth, FL 33460. 
(3) In retrospect it has been seen that Vatican Council II itself, and certain of its pronouncements, particularly those dealing with religious liberty, ecumenical relations, and the nature of Christian Marriage, are highly suspect, but that is beyond the scope of this writing. 
(4) Belatedly, both of these bishops consecrated relatively sane men to the episcopate, but the delay itself caused innumerable schisms to form within the Catholic resistance.
(5) Gerard G. Shelly, Apostolic Mandate, 20 May 1975.

Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
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