Old Catholics

A denomination resulting from the refusal of certain Catholics to accept the decree of papal infallibility as set forth by the Vatican Council in 1870. Their use of the term “old” Catholic indicates their contention that they are standing for the ancient faith, while the Council had added something thereto. Their principal strength has always been in Germany and Switzerland, (Christian Catholic Church), though they have spread to various other countries. They obtained their episcopal succession through the Jansenists of Bolland, and they have been particularly generous in passing it on, creating great confusion as to who are really entitled to be classed as Old Catholics. They set themselves up to accomplish reform in doctrine, discipline, and theology, most of which has been in the direction of Protestantism. It would be difficult to give a complete account of these changes, as Old Catholic sects vary from a rigid orthodoxy to positions which are scarcely recognisable as Christian at all. Of late years they have come into contact with Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy and in some cases have formed partial unions with these. There are three bodies of Old Catholics in America, in agreement with the Old Catholic churches of Europe: the Catholic Church of North America organized at Chicago; the American Catholic Church, independent of the Old Catholic Church in America; and the Old Catholic Church in America.