Revised: 18 January, A.D. 2002
In the light of the developments of previous centuries we see that the Old Roman Catholic Church received and still preserves, the seven Sacraments, the doctrines, rites, and moral teachings of the Church of Christ and the Apostles. The Church is called "Old" because she rejects Modernism and every recent innovation, while adhering faithfully to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of Apostolic times. She is called "Roman" because Her teaching is identical with that of the Holy See of Rome in the authentic exercise of Its magisterium; because the line of her Apostolic Succession from the first century until 1739 was held in common with the Roman Catholic Church; and because She uses the Roman Rite (in the form prescribed by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, and codified by Pope Saint Pius V) without addition or change, using the time honored texts of the Missale, Pontificale, and Rituale Romanum with great care and exactness as to minister, matter, form and intention in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in the administration of the Sacraments. The Church is "Catholic" because She is not confined to any one nation or place or time, teaching the same Faith once delivered by her Divine Founder, Jesus Christ to the Apostles.
The honest inquirer must be cautioned not to confuse the Old Roman Catholic Church with other groups calling themselves "Old Catholic," or with those usurping the name "Old Roman Catholic." Fostering this sort of confusion has been a favored tactic of those hoping to promote schism within the traditional Catholic resistance to Modernism. Much which in this age calls itself Old Catholic represents some compromise with Protestantism, or, in a wider digression, with the non-Christian cult theosophy, bearing little resemblance to Catholicism. (In 1870, Dr. Ignaz von Dollinger brought the Old Catholics into being to offer resistance to the dogma of Papal Infallibility. In 1873, the Church of Utrecht was, must unhappily, prevailed upon to provide these Old Catholics with a bishop. In 1889, an amalgamation took place between Utrecht and the Old Catholics. Thus the Church of Utrecht laid the foundation for her subsequent fall into Modernism.) The Old Roman Catholic Church has no connection with these "churches."
Before the great See of Utrecht abandoned her historic position, however, God in His Divine Providence provided for the continuation of Old Roman Catholicism. Though Utrecht was eventually to abandon traditional Catholicism, the Church was not to perish. On April 28, 1908, Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew of England was consecrated to the Episcopate by Archbishop Gerard Gul of Utrecht, assisted by Bishops N.B.P. Spitt of Deventer, and J.J van Thiel of Haarlam in the Netherlands, and Bishop J. Demmel of Bonn, Germany. By the end of 1910, however, the influence of the Old Catholics had proved too much for Utrecht and had overwhelmed her. So great and far reaching were the changes which she was prevailed upon to make in her formularies and doctrinal position that, on December 29, 1910, Archbishop Mathew was forced to withdraw the Old Roman Catholic Church in England from communion with Utrecht in order to preserve its orthodoxy intact.
Archbishop Mathew cited several innovations of the Old Catholics which required him to withdraw from union with Utrecht: 1) An indeterminate number of Sacraments. 2) Abandonment of auricular Confession. 3) Departure from the veneration of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. 4) Mutilation of the sacred rites and decreased devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. 5) Omission of prayers for the Pope in the Canon of the Mass. 6) Loss of devotion to daily Mass and infrequency of Holy Communion. 7) Iconoclasm. 8) Admission of non-Catholics to Holy Communion. 9) Abolition of fasting and abstinence, and of the Eucharistic fast (A.H. Mathew, Pastoral Letter of 29 December 1910). Perhaps the reader will notice a similarity between the Old Catholicism which Mathew rejected and the Modernist Catholicism which is so widely practiced today.
Utrecht is no longer Old Roman Catholic but simply Old Catholic. Thus it comes about that the ancient and glorious Church of Saint Willibrord and Saint Boniface has its continuation and perpetuation through the present Old Roman Catholic Church, which is compelled, in defense of its orthodoxy, to refuse to hold union with either Utrecht or the Old Catholics, or with their Modernist counterparts.