The Old Roman Catholic Church

Old Roman Catholic Church in Europe

About us

The Old Roman Catholic Church in Europe is a Province currently consisting of eight dioceses serving sixteen countries across the European continent. The ORCCE enjoys fellowship with the Universal Church through the International Council of Community Churches, the World Council of Churches and various other international ecumenical bodies. In 1911 the Old Roman Catholic Church was recognised as an autocephalous Church by the Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria

Our vision, mission and purpose...

The Province of Europe seeks to draw Old Roman Catholic jurisdictions a mutual communion through the love of the Lord Jesus. To become together a single, visible communion able to interact, cooperate and collectively represent orthodox Old Roman Catholicism to other churches and the world. Through the accidents of history and human frailty and the ravages of time, Old Roman Catholic communities became disassociated from each other. The Province of Europe is an opportunity to overcome the practicalities of distance and difference, embracing contemporary communication technologies to reconnect our dispersed brethren and attempt to rebuild the familial ties that ought to exist between brothers of the same inheritance, of the same faith and of the same mission. Thus together, to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation and preach the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

An invitation...

Bishops and churches in Europe, who have an historic connection to Old Roman Catholicism through verifiable Apostolic succession, and who have retained orthodoxy in faith and praxis, are cordially invited to contact the ORCCE Chancery to discuss intercommunion or union with the Old Roman Catholic Church and membership of / partnership with, the Province of Europe.

Summary history...

The Old Roman Catholic Church is the continuation of the original and ancient See of Utrecht founded in 695AD when St Willibrord was consecrated Bishop for the Frisians in Rome by Pope Sergius I. In 1024 the Bishops were made "Princes" of the Holy Roman Empire and until 1122 were appointed by the Emperor. In 1145, of the five collegiate chapters in Utrecht, Blessed Pope Eugene III granted the Cathedral Chapter the perpetual right to elect the Bishop. This right was later ratified by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. In 1520, Pope Leo X in a bull "Debitum Pastoralis" granted the Clergy and faithful of the See of Utrecht immunity from external ecclesiastical prosecution. In 1559 the See was elevated to an Archdiocese with six suffragan Sees. But in 1580 when the Principality was lost by the Hapsburgs at the Reformation, the public exercise of the Catholic religion was forbidden and the church went "underground". During this time "Apostolic Vicars" were appointed by the exiled Spanish government of the Empire but titled "Archiepiscopus Titularis" so as not to provoke the Protestant Government of the Republic. In 1691 Petrus Codde, the Apostolic Vicar was falsely accused of the Jansenist heresy by the Jesuits who wanted free-reign in the ecclesiastical territory. He was tried in Rome despite the protection of "Debitum Pastoralis" but was cleared of all charges. However, relations between the See of Utrecht and the Holy See became strained by the interference and influence of the zealous Jesuits. 

After the death of Peter Codde in 1723 the Cathedral Chapter proceeded to elect a new Archbishop with approbation from the Dutch Republic but not the Holy See. The Chapter asserted their ancient right and privilege granted by Blessed Pope Eugene III, but incurred the disfavour of the growing ultramontane Papacy. In 1853, despite attempts at reconciliation, Blessed Pope Pius IX instituted a new hierarchy in Holland and the original See became known as the "Old" Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. From 1853 the Old Roman Catholic Church continued unabated to preserve the Catholic Faith as it had always been believed until in 1870 it was petitioned for episcopal oversight by disaffected Roman Catholics unable to accept the definition of Papal Infallibility introduced by the First Vatican Council. These "Old" Catholics established parishes and churches across the continent but gradually began to stray from traditional Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, influenced by the theology of "Reformation". So it was in 1910 that the Regionary Bishop for Great Britain, Arnold Harris Mathew, was forced in order to preserve the received traditional Roman Catholic faith, to declare independence from Utrecht who were now adopting these "reformed" ideas and practices. In August 5th, 1911 under Msgr Mathew, the Old Roman Catholic Church was received into communion with the Orthodox Patriarch and Holy Synod of Antioch and the East (a precursor to the later Western Rite Antiochian Orthodox) and in 1912 with the Pope & Patriarchate of Alexandria and was formally recognised as an autocephalous jurisdiction.

In 1913 Msgr Mathew consecrated Prince Rudolph de Landas-Berghes as a Bishop who, in 1916 assisted by the British Government, emigrated to America and there founded the Old Roman Catholic Church in North America. The Church in Britain barely survived both World Wars and by the 1950's was reduced to a small but faithful remnant. Attempts at revival were made with help from the Church in North America, the first under Archbishop Marchenna who consecrated Msgr George Shelley in 1950 for the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain. Then in 2011, assistance was provided by Archbishop Boniface Grosvold for the faithful who had formed since 2000 the Old Roman Catholic Church in Europe;  consecrating our first Metropolitan Archbishop of Europe, Msgr Jerome Lloyd OSJV in 2012. Since then Old Roman Catholic churches and faithful across the continent have been re-establishing contacts in a reinvigorated zeal for unity in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and preserving the ancient Apostolic Faith.

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