Skip to comments.'Catholic' Parishes Independent Of Rome: Are They An Oddity Or A Looming Threat?
Posted on 05/12/2003 8:31:44 AM PDT by NYer
There it was, just outside of Albany, New York, a brand new church dedicated to the Virgin of Czestochowa.
Save for the fact that there was no cross on the steeple, it looked like an ordinary, even devout church: stained windows, rosaries in a basket as you entered, a crucifix, a Risen Jesus behind the altar, and to the side, angels and a statue of the Sorrowful Mother.
From all appearances Our Lady of Czestochowa was the model of a new church (there's even bingo) -- until one noticed that the nameplate did not say "Roman Catholic." This one said, "National Catholic Church."
Actually, it's the Polish National Catholic Church, and when the lone person there, a custodian, let me in, he handed me literature that spelled out the difference: clergy in this church are allowed to marry; parishioners attend Confession only until the age of 16 (thereafter participating in penance granted at each Mass in general form); birth control is left up to the parishioner; and when it's time for a new bishop, both laymen and clergy have a vote.
There are 156 similar parishes in the U.S.; the church, built in 1999, is part of a network of "national catholic churches" (they often choose not to capitalize "Catholic"). In downtown Albany is another known as Holy Trinity that has no ethnic distinction and is headed by the "most reverend" Richard G. Roy -- who "recognizes the special position of the Bishop of Rome [Pope] as 'first among equals' with other bishops, holding primacy of honor, but not primacy of jurisdiction over the entire Church." In other words, they do not answer to Rome; they have their own "bishops." Unlike its Polish cousin (which states no specific position on the subject), the National Catholic Church based at Holy Trinity is an open advocate of homosexuality. While such independent denominations date back at least to the 18th century, and while the Polish version declares its origin as 1907 (thusly known to some as "old catholic"), the National Catholic Church based at Holy Trinity formed in 1998 as sort of a gay version of Catholicism. "We affirm and celebrate the love which can exist between persons of the same gender," says its official website. "Bishop Roy has been active in AIDS ministry and serves as pastor of Holy Trinity National Catholic Church in Albany, where he makes his home with Brother Stephen K. Peterson, OSJD, his partner since 1975."
There always have been renegade churches, but the way they are beginning to meld with the desires of certain mainstream Roman Catholic parishes gives me concern. While at the other end of the socio-political spectrum there is the schism with certain ultra-conservative, "traditionalist" parishes that have broken with Rome, this is not as worrisome because such parishes adhere to fundamental teachings and are not expanding. The liberal National Catholic ideas, on the other hand, find a great reservoir of agreement among many typical Sunday Catholics and especially the tens of millions of liberal Catholics who no longer regularly attend Mass. Already there has been an infiltration of heresies into institutions that still call themselves Roman Catholic.
What do I mean about "infiltration"?
In California is a witch named "Starhawk" who gives seminars and has instructed "dozens" of mainstream Catholic priests. In Notre Dame, Indiana, are complaints that a Catholic women's college allows in witchcraft (or "wicca"). While the Catechism was not allowed as part of religious studies there, pagan literature was reportedly required in a literature course (or so we are informed). You can find all kinds of other instances in an excellent book called Ungodly Rage.
And then there is Cleveland, Ohio: here is based an organization called Future Church that is directly and blatantly trying to integrate the radicalism engendered by the National Catholic Church into mainstream Catholicism -- openly fighting for women priests and married clergy, plus advocating "openness" to homosexuality. At one recent meeting, more than a dozen Roman Catholic priests from the Cleveland area attended.
And that may be the danger: it's not just the "national" churches. They are simply incorporating attitudes that pervade segments of the formal Roman Church itself -- and may thus set a pattern for future schism.
It's hard to say how much they will grow, but the ideas are already widespread among many Catholics and thus the existence of such organizations could help spark significant division -- an ecclesiastic firestorm.
Are such movements and churches really a threat? Yes. They leave the door open to actual paganism. They invite in sin. And they threaten the primacy of Rome. Coupled with the priest-abuse scandal, which has eroded confidence in mainstream Catholicism, these movements, still on the far fringe, are moving closer and are now more than blips on the radar.
Colleen, you may want to email Mike Brown that link to your post. You can email him from the http://www.spiritdaily.com web site.
They all share one of two general backgrounds:
(1) A group of clergy and laity dissenting from the Church split off and found their own little group;
(2) A single priest leaves the Church and starts his own parish based on his own dissent.
All of these Churches have one thing in common: the sexual incontinence of their founders.
They all either (a) ordain married men, (b) allow divorce or (c) permit sodomy. Usually all three.
These groups usually last as long as the pastor is alive - when he dies the "flock" such as it is finds a new group more or less to its liking.
The Polish National Catholic Church has only lasted as long as it has because it is specifically ethnic - it does not exist purely for the sexual license of its clergy and laity, it also exists to bolster their feelings of ethnic chauvinism and particularity.
There is a long list of now defunct denominations like this, or denominations which once numbered in the tens of thousands and now number in the hundreds: The Traditional Catholic Church, the Orthodox Roman Church, The Apostolic Catholic Church, The Liberal Catholic Church, The Old Catholic Church of America, The Old Catholic Church of the United States, The Independent Catholic Church of America, etc.
Almost all of them can trace their ordinations and consecrations back to one mentally disturbed individual: Arnold Matthew.
In the East we have similar problems with pseudo-Orthodox groups, though for the most part ours are analogous to the Lefebrites rather than either the Old Catholics or the flakes (though there are flaky New-Ageish pseudo-Orthodox groups as well).
The Old Catholics have gone liberal of late (the main reason our reunion talks with them, which had yielded subtantial agreement on most doctrinal issues, have ground to a halt). I believe most of them are in communion with the Anglicans now (and we know what that means if you take intercommunion as a sign of common faith), though I'm not sure about the PNCC.
I disagree. These "flaky" groups and the Old Catholics of Utrecht have very close ties of doctrinal and personal kinship.
Only a subset of the original Old Catholic movement had anything much more in common with Orthodoxy than they did with Anglicanism or Lutheranism.
I am informed that the 'national' so-called 'church' was a Communist instigated attempt to divide Roman Catholics in Poland during the late 1940's-early 50's. Had the author of this superficial 'news' story had the integrity to research the so-called 'Polish National Catholic Church' to its communist Polish roots, he would have no basis from which to attack the Roman Catholic faith - his obvious intent.
That this fraud employs the name of a sacred site in Poland for its paper-mâché 'church' further underlines the hate this pitiful and pathetic 'national church' has for the Roman Catholic faith.
The Holy Mother of God is the Patron Saint of Poland, and when her name is invoked in conjunction with Czestochowa, Our Lady of Czestochowa is respectfully and universally referenced.
The other were the renegade priests from Poland who chose Stalin over Christ.
Nowadays they make quite a pair.
I know the author personally. Perhaps his phrasing in the story is not clear. If nothing else, this man is a devoted catholic. He conducts trips to Marian shrines around the world.
I live here and I didn't know she was teaching priests. She is prominent in Northern California. I believe her branch of Wicca is Dianic (lesbian, goddess worship).
......and Hitler was once an alter boy as well. That your friend is, from your perspective, a "....devote catholic....", I will pray the Holy Ghost guides his pen in the future.
Nonethless, I think for historical clarity the distinction could have been better drawn.
Few will argue the "catholicity" of the Orthodox Churches, the Coptics, the Syriacs. There truly was an old english catholic church that was reaffirmed when the anglican church returned to its roots. There are anglican bodies that truly desire to be true to those catholic roots. (Bishoprics in Africa and the Anglican CAtholic Church -- ACC -- that broke from the better known, modern Anglican church because of it's heretical ordination of woman and flirtation with homosexual ordination.)
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