Are you schismatic Roman Catholics?
When first coming into contact with the Old Roman Catholic Church many devout Catholics
immediately inquire, "Are you a valid Catholic Church or schismatic Catholics?
Old Roman Catholicism is neither a sect nor schism as some of its self-constituted enemies may
claim. Old Roman Catholics acknowledge the Bishop of Rome historically and spiritually as the
Patriarch of the West and our priests continue to pray for the Pope in the Canon of the Mass to
express the desire for unity which should exist amongst all Western Catholics. A thorough
reading of history clearly indicates that the Old Roman Catholics did nothing of a schismatic
nature to warrant Pope Pius IX's uncanonical institution of a new hierarchy in the See of Utrecht
in 1853, which was erected in parallel opposition to the historic hierarchy of the existing Old
Roman Catholic Church, an act in flagrant violation of the ancient historic canons of the
undivided Church, nor had the Old Roman Catholics taught anything that had not always been
considered to be totally Catholic in either Faith or practice.
In 1145 Blessed Pope Eugene III granted to the Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht the right to elect
successors to the See in times of vacancy. This meant that, unlike most other Sees in the Roman
Catholic Church, the Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht could elect their own bishops without
permission or approval from the Pope. This had been the universal practice in the early Church.
In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council (Canons 23 and 24) again confirmed this privilege. It must be
noted that there is no record of these or any other granted privileges being withdrawn.
Another significant right granted to the Church of The Netherlands was the privilege of hearing
and adjudicating all of its canonical issues and matters within its own ecclesiastical courts
without the necessity of referring them to Rome or any other court of canon law constituted
outside of the Metropolitan See of Utrecht, either for an initial adjudication nor for any
subsequent appeals. In 1520, Pope Leo X decreed in the papal bull Debitum Pastoralis that the
Bishop of Utrecht, his successors, his clergy, and his laity should never be tried by an external
tribunal of canon law. If any such proceedings did take place they were null and void. This
extraordinary right had been granted by Pope Leo X at the request of Philip of Burgundy, who was
the reigning prince-bishop of Utrecht at the time. Again there is no record of these specific rights
ever being rescinded, simply ignored by the most egregious and uncanonical actions Pope Pius IX.
In 1691, the Jesuits falsely accused Archbishop Peter Codde, the occupant of of the See of
Utrecht, of favoring the so-called Jansenist heresy. We say so-called Jansenist heresy because no
one has ever yet succeeded in finding the repudiated heretical statements, either in substance or
in form, in The Augustinus of Bishop Cornelius Jansenius, where the Jesuits pretended to have
discovered them. Archbishop Codde was ordered to stand trial in Rome despite the special
privilege and Papal dispensation from such a trial (see above re: Debitum Pastoralis). Despite the
Archbishop being proven innocent of heresy, the influence of the Jesuits was so great that they
persuaded the Pope to issue a secret brief suspending and deposing Archbishop Codde. Neither
the names of his accusers, nor the charges made against him, were ever made known to him, nor
was he permitted to offer any defense. All accomplished on the whim of the Pope in direct
violation of Church Canon Law. Throughout Europe canon lawyers and a number of the major
universities met this illegal action by Pope Clement XI with great disapproval. The Papal
Ultramontane canonist, Hyacinth de Archangelis, issued a formal opinion that a Vicar-Apostolic
with the rights of an ordinary, as Codde undoubtedly was, could not be arbitrarily deposed. The
canonical matters arising from the blatant Papal violations of Debitum Pastoralis led to the case
being submitted for review to the Pontifical Roman Catholic University of Leuven (Southern
Brabant) in May 1717, which found in favor of the Archdiocese of Utrecht. In spite of the favorable
ruling the University was unable to resolve the matter with Rome as Pope Clement XI still
occupied the Chair of Peter; thus leading to the creation of a de facto autonomous Catholic church
in the Netherlands. It was at this point the Archdiocese of Utrecht had no choice but to sever
formal sacramental communion with the Church in Rome continuing as a separate, apostolically
valid, Roman Catholic entity.
This breach has never healed, although Pope Clement XIV was favorably disposed towards the
grievously wronged Church of Utrecht.
We believe and continue to maintain, as we have always done since 1691, that these irregular
proceedings against the Church of Utrecht, based, as they were, upon charges which were proved
at the time to have been groundless, were therefore null and void and in direct contravention of
the privileged rights of the See of Utrecht for immunity from prosecution outside her territory.
Add to all of this the uncanonical actions of Pope Pius IX in 1853, again contravening the ancient
historic canons, as well as the privilege granted the See of Utrecht in 1145 regarding the election
and appointment of her own Bishops and despite the majority opinion of the vast number of
Catholic canon lawyers and academics being in favor of the Church of Utrecht, the actions of the
See of Rome can be viewed in no other light than to declare them patently unjust, uncanonical
and utterly null and void. Thus it is that we have faithfully remained, and are still in actual
technical canonical fact, and not according to any fanciful or far-fetched theory, continue as part
and parcel of the Roman Catholic Church, despite her refusal to acknowledge or honor our
historic and canonically proven position as true Roman Catholics.
It is the continued goal of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church - Archdiocese to
return to sacramental communion with the Holy See. Unfortunately through out the years there
are those nay sayers who continue to say this Jurisdiction is a non-valid church. We challenge
them following the Roman canon law of 1717 and those Papal dispensations in effect at that time
to disprove forever the apostolic validity of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church -
Utrecht Succession, Archdiocese of California.
Having failed to so do, in this Year of Mercy, let us then work together for the salvation of souls
and the spread of Christ's kingdom.