The Old Roman Catholic Church

Old Roman Catholic Church in Europe


Engaged for a century and a half in a struggle of almost unparalleled inequality, where ecclesiastical power, wealth, prestige, and numbers a thousand times told, were on the one side, and simply justice and right on the other, she has come down to our own times, persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed. A taunt and a byeword to the rampant Ultramontanism of modern Europe, she has calmly and trustfully held her own, proclaimed her unshaken attachment to Catholic union and the Catholic faith, appealed, from time to time, against the unjust sentences extorted from the court of Rome, and awaits, in patience and hope, those brighter days when her appeal can be heard, when her isolation shall be removed, and her separate history again merged in the general annals of the Western Church.” Revd J M Neale

Grace and peace to you from God our Father 
and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Welcome to the website of the Metropolitan Province of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Europe, part of the international communion of orthodox canonical Old Roman Catholic Churches. Thank you for taking the time to find out more about us! We hope you will find the website interesting and informative.

Though one of the smallest denominations in the world we are also one of the oldest! The Old Roman Catholic Church, while affirming its historic continuity with the Apostolic Church of the first century, and while possessing a line of Holy Orders held in common with the Undivided Church of earlier centuries, traces its Apostolic Succession in more recent years through the ancient See of Utrecht in Holland. St. Willibrord, the Apostle of the Netherlands, was consecrated to the Episcopate by Pope Sergius I, in 696 A.D. at Rome. Upon his return to the Netherlands, he founded his See at Utrecht. One of his successors in that See was the great St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany. The Church of Utrecht also provided a worthy occupant for the Papal See in 1552 in the person of Pope Hadrian VI, while two of the most able exponents of the religious life, Geert Groote who founded the Brothers of Common Life, and Thomas a Kempis who is credited with writing the Imitation of Christ, were from the Dutch Church.

Old Roman Catholicism is the modern revival of Catholicism, as it was understood in the first centuries; not an attempt to perpetuate the faults either of doctrines or of works revealed by history in the Christian Church of the early centuries, but an endeavour, while conforming to our own times and our own countries, to be guided by the spirit of Christ, our only leader, and to labour, by this spirit, to put an end to the imperfections and vices that have defiled the Church in the course of time.

The Church is called 'Old' not to disown the improvements which reason and the Gospel declare to be necessary, but to show fundamental dependence on Christ and His Gospel. We have no intention whatever of founding a new religion or of joining one of the sects that dreams of a fanciful Christianity in the future. We are faithful to the Church founded by Christ and preached by His Apostles, as it appears in the books of the New Testament and in the Christian writings of the first centuries. We try to live by the spirit of our fathers and the saints honoured by our ancestors, and thus to unite the Christian past with the Christian present and the Christian future.

“From today’s crisis, a Church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal. She will be small and, to a large extent, will have to start from the beginning. She will no longer be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendour. Because of the smaller number of her followers, she will lose many of her privileges in society. Contrary to what has happened until now, she will present herself much more as a community of volunteers… As a small community, she will demand much more from the initiative of each of her members and she will certainly also acknowledge new forms of ministry and will raise up to the priesthood proven Christians who have other jobs… There will be an interiorised Church, which neither takes advantage of its political mandate nor flirts with the left or the right. This will be achieved with effort because the process of crystallization and clarification will demand great exertion. It will make her poor and a Church of the little people… All this will require time. The process will be slow and painful.” Glaube und Zukunft, Jospeh Ratzinger 1970

These seemingly prophetic words belong to none other than the present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, yet they describe a very real and present situation in the Western Catholic Church, a scenario that has existed for over a hundred years and whose nativity began two hundred years before then. The young Fr Jospeh Ratzinger, recorded on radio in 1969 broadcasting in Baveria and Hessen, thought he was describing a future yet to be, yet for Old Roman Catholics, he describes the Church which already exists... stripped of wordly privileges and prestige, reduced to few in number, yet full of faith, hope and love.

It is true, of course, that the then Fr Ratzinger had in his mind the future of the Roman Catholic Church of which he became Supreme Pontiff. We would not question that fact nor indeed his position, Old Roman Catholics regard the Pope as their Patriarch and the Chief Pastor of the universal Church, though our understanding of the Petrine Ministry is different from that defined as dogma by Blessed Pius IX and the First Vatican Council in 1870.

We hope that this website will provide you with information about our life and mission to serve and to proclaim Jesus Christ as Our Lord and Saviour and to maintain the original Catholic Faith for future generations.

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