TERM I: The Liberal Catholics Catechism

Why – you might ask – are we discussing the Liberal Catholic Church, as a subject in a Seminary of an Old Catholic Apostolic Church?… Actually, the answer is relatively simple. The Liberal Catholic Church was born as a spin off the Old Catholic Church. We will dedicate our chapter to the Catechism, however you need to understand a little of the historical journey, to better appreciate how we arrived where we are in this moment in History.

First, let’s explain how Wedgwood ended up as a Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church. Rev. James Ingall Wedgwood (a member of the famous Wedgwood Porcelain Manufacture family owners) was an Anglican Priest, incardinated in the Church of England. He left the Church of England because of theosophical concerns in 1904/05 and joined the Old Catholic Church at some point between that year and the year he was ordained as an Old Catholic Priest, of which we know the date for certain, the 22nd of July 1913, by Bishop Arnold Harris Mathew. Harris Mathew had been a Roman Catholic Priest, but left with many others in 1873, when the Holy See put its foot in and declared that His Holiness the Pope was infallible (in Faith matters). Upon joining the Old Catholic Movement, Harris was consecrated a Bishop. This journey is one of the reasons Old Catholics – and by extension Liberal Catholics – claim the validity of their Apostolic Succession fully tracing it back to the Holy See.

Because theosophist views were contentious, among other matters, Bishop Harris Mathew sought to dissolve the Old Catholic Church in Britain and return to the Latin Rite, in effect leaving James Ingall Wedgwood Episcopal consecration somewhat in limbo.

Wedgwood thus sought to secure a consecration that was valid and from an Apostolic Succession, bullet-proof. The Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht, Gerardus Gul, who had originally consecrated Arnold Harris Mathew, came to Wedgwood’s assistance. James Ingall Wedgwood was validly consecrated Bishop by the Archbishop of Utrecht and by Bishop Frederick James.

So – you now may ask – why is all this relevant to the discussion of the Catechism of the Liberal Catholic Church, in the context of our Old Catholic Apostolic Church seminary teachings?… It is relevant because it was by virtue of this shared journey from the Old Catholic Church to James Wedgwood and his launch of the Liberal Catholic Church, together with Bishop CW Leadbeater, on one hand; and the parenthood – as it were – of the Old Catholic Church, on the other, that historically and to the present day, Liberal Catholics and Old Catholics share to some extent, a common heritage.

Above: Priestly Ordination of a Liberal Catholic Deacon, sharing a Liturgy similar to the Old Catholic Church, as well as the Roman Catholic Church, for example.

Today, Liberal Catholics moved back towards Old Catholicism, as much as Old Catholics turned out to move across to the Liberal Catholic Church. There is an undeniable fluidity up to a point, which renders the Liberal Catholic Church Catechism a fundamental point of reference to both Old Catholics and Liberal Catholics. Indeed, the current edition of the Liberal Catholic Catechism was penned by a former Liberal Catholic Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Wynn Wagner, who was in fact, at the time of writing the Catechism, the Old Catholic Church Archbishop of Dallas, Texas, back in 2008. There is no better example of this fluidity between Liberal and Old Catholics.

Exploring further…

Books (amazon uk)

Catechism of the Liberal Catholic Church
Pilgrims’ Guide to the Old Catholic Church
Catechism of the Old Catholic Church
Catholic But Not Roman, Orthodox But Not Eastern
Understanding Catholicism (for Non-Catholics or Former Roman Catholics)
The Catholic Catechism on Freemasonry

Documents

  1. Catholics Survival Tactics in Utrecht 1620-1670 by Prof. Dr. Genji Yasuhira; 1989, Kobe, Japan.
  2. The Early Church as Ideal – Old Catholic Theology Beyond the Basics; University of Utrecht Summer School, Course Summary.
  3. Old Catholic Theology in its Ecumenical Context; University of Utrecht Summer School, Course Summary.
  4. Anglicans & Old Catholics in Portugal, Spain and Europe, Lisbon Conferences 2015, by Antonio Manuel S.P. Silva, Jorge de Pina Cabral, Joris Vercammen, Carlos Lozano, Fernando Soares and Jenny Knudsen.
  5. Catholics without Popes, by Julie Byrne, March 2013.
  6. What Is the Spirit Saying to the Churches? – Dissertation Towards a Contemporary Ecumenical Pneumatology, by Prof. Dr. Eric William Hendry, University of Duquesne, May 2011.

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