The Liberal Catholic Church came into being in order that people who insist upon complete freedom of belief in their search for truth could have free access to the traditional Catholic Sacraments without having to give even lip service to creeds or dogmas to which they could, not honestly and wholeheartedly subscribe. It was the only church having the valid Apostolic Succession of Holy Orders, and therefore dispensing valid Catholic Sacraments, which welcomed to Holy Communion all reverent people of whatever denomination or religion-or of none.
The Liberal Catholic Church makes no specific demands as to belief on the part of any of its members - simply a willingness to worship together with the use of a common Liturgy in a spirit of brotherhood.
This does not imply that the Church has no philosophy which it holds to be true. It has a definite doctrine -which it teaches, but it does not insist on the acceptance of its philosophy, feeling that since it is true, all men will one day come to see its truth and order their lives thereby. We hold that "a truth is not a truth for a man, nor revelation until he sees it to be true for himself."
This philosophy postulates the existence of God manifesting as the creative Trinity; of man sharing the divine life and nature and therefore himself eternal destined to attain a glorious state of godlike perfection.
Man evolves through repeated earthly lives of experience (reincarnation) under the perfect divine law of absolute justice (karma) whereby each individual inevitably reaps the fruit of all his thoughts, feelings and actions, good or bad, life after life.
Death is followed by a time of readjustment during which the soul frees itself from any attachment to evil and then reaps the reward of its good deeds in a heaven of happiness. Realizing at length the need for more earthly experience in order to evolve further towards its goal of perfection, the soul reincarnates. Its new body and life circumstances reflect both what it has earned and what it has learned in preceding lives.
We hold that Christ established the Christian Religion, not to condemn earlier religions as erroneous, but to give a new, impetus to evolving humanity, in particular to inculcate a greater realization of human brotherhood and mutual responsibility. He established His sacramental system in order that through it He might be able to give fuller, and more direct personal help and inspiration to mankind. We feel that He wants the widest use to be made of His gifts hence our open Communion.
We feel also that through the celebration of the Eucharist in a spirit of joy and gladness, with wholehearted participation by priest and congregation aided by the Angel Hosts, a tremendous wave of quickening and spiritualizing inspiration can be spread abroad over the whole community. Believing that this aspect of the Eucharist is one which the Lord wishes emphasized for His wider work, we have made it one of the primary purposes of our Liberal Catholic worship.
THE HOLY EUCHARIST
To this end the Liturgy of the Eucharist was revised to eliminate all expressions of fear, of supposed divine wrath, all ideas of God contrary to the loving Father taught by Jesus. Our service is one of joy, of hope and gladness, expressed by priest and people in a highly congregational form of worship.
We maintain that transubstantiation is a fact; that in the act of Consecration the natural inner life or substance of the bread and wine is swept aside and replaced by the living vitality of Christ Himself-though the outward physical matter of bread and wine, remains unchanged. This Christ Life present in the Host enters each communicant, quickening his spiritual nature and making him for the time being a shining spiritual sun among men.
Wherever the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, that radiance continues to shine over the world around, and may be called upon for help and blessing by anyone., Many feel this influence when entering a church where the Host is reserved.
The formation of this Church from its inception, the revision of its Liturgy, and redevelopment of its doctrine as to the nature of the Sacraments, were guided by careful clairvoyant study of the inner working of the Catholic Religion.
Certain Theosophists-notably C. W. Leadbeater- had developed their latent powers of extrasensory perception and had been highly trained in their use while in India, -where such faculties have been know and studied for ages. The use of these faculties disclosed the realities underlying the practices of the Catholic Church and enabled scientific revision of the Eucharistic Rite to be undertaken, so as to produce a far more efficacious use of its potential in the service of God and man.
The use of these faculties also confirmed the validity of the Liberal Catholic philosophy as expressed in the Churches
"Summary of Doctrine."
The findings of the first investigators have been
confirmed and elaborated by other trained clairvoyant researchers up to the
present time. (References should be made to the monumental work, The Science of
the Sacraments by Bishop Leadbeater.)
The government of the Church is hierarchical, but it is a government by the consent of the governed. Supreme authority in matters spiritual rests with the whole body of bishops acting as a college, known as the General Episcopal Synod. This includes the administration of the Sacraments, the promulgation of Liturgy and Ritual, Statement of Principles and Summary of Doctrine, and also the Canon Law.
As far as practical all in matter of business, finance and property are placed in the hands of elected representatives of the membership.
The Synod operates under the chairmanship of its elected Presiding Bishop whose actions are always subject to its approval. New bishops are selected and consecrated by the Synod.
Appointments of bishops to Provincial or Diocesan authority are made by the Synod with the approval of the subordinate clergy. Appointment of clergy to a parish is by mutual agreement between the parish and the responsible bishop. The Synod is the final court of appeal in all matters concerning the Church and its clergy.
WHAT IS THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH?
A CEREMONIAL CHURCH
The Liberal Catholic Church is one of thirty or more Catholic Churches in the world which are independent of Rome, such as the Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Old Catholic, etc. It teaches the Christianity of the Christ and administers the seven Sacraments which are regarded as channels of His blessing.
It is a church wherein there is intellectual and religious freedom and a natural balance between ceremonial worship, devotional aspiration, scientific and mystic thought. It uses a revised Liturgy in the language of the country, a Liturgy devised to sound a note of joyous and uplifting aspiration.
The Liberal Catholic Church welcomes all and everyone to its services, those who have faith and those who have lost faith; those who believe in the literal exposition of the scriptures and those who accept the allegorical spiritual interpretation. Above all, it wishes to serve those who are earnestly seeking spiritual enlightenment.
FREEDOM OF BELIEF
The Liberal Catholic Church erects no barriers around its altars. All who come in a spirit of reverence are welcome to Holy Communion and to all other services of the Church. What opinions or beliefs an individual holds is considered to be his/her own affair. The mind that is free is in the best condition to grow. Growth into spirituality enhances the perception of truth which each one must discover for himself/herself and in his/her own way.
Anything less than full mental freedom is thought to retard progress. Thus, the difference between The Liberal Catholic Church and all other Catholic and Protestant Churches lies in the fact that with the ancient sacramental worship have been associated the widest measure of intellectual freedom and respect for the individual conscience.
The Liberal Catholic Church seeks to give the world the best elements of Catholicism with the best of Protestantism. On the Catholic side are the seven Sacraments; but these have been hedged about with all kinds of man-made dogmatic encumbrances such as creeds, rigid beliefs, the confessional, penances, indulgences, etc.
On the Protestant side we have an earnest attempt to promote religious freedom; but the reformers discarded the Sacraments, lost the Apostolic Succession and soon lost much of the intellectual emancipation they had previously gained, which development has led to the rise of innumerable sectarian movements.
ORDERS OF THE CLERGY
The orders of the clergy of The Liberal Catholic Church were derived through the Old Catholic Church of Holland which became independent from Rome over two centuries ago. Through this Apostolic Succession, unbroken since the time of Christ, The Liberal Catholic Church aligns itself with the historic church in past centuries.
The clergy are neither forbidden nor enjoined to marry. They serve without personal remuneration. The clergy claim no authority over the individual conscience; rather, stress is laid on their function as ministers of the Divine Sacraments, ready to serve those who may ask or need their help.
THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC ACT OF FAITH
We believe that God is Love and Power and Truth and Light; that perfect justice rules the world; that all His sons shall one day reach His feet, however far they stray. We hold the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of man, we know that we
do serve Him best when best we serve our brother man. So shall His blessing rest on us and peace for evermore. Amen.
THE HOLY EUCHARIST IN THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH
THE PURPOSE OF THE EUCHARIST
The Holy Eucharist or Mass is often called the Lord's Supper. It is that, but it has become More than that. Under his guidance and inspiration it has been expanded from its simple beginnings so as to serve an ever-widening circle of humanity,
It has always been the central act of Catholic worship. Designed to help those who take part therein, it is intended also to serve the surrounding world, and it summons the congregation together with the Angel Host to intelligent and energetic participation in this work.
In our conception, worship has a three-fold aspect and purpose It is firstly the offering of 'worship' -that is, praise and honor- to almighty God. Secondly, it is intended to help the worshippers. And thirdly -and most important of all -it is intended to help the surrounding world at large, through the instrumentality of the worshippers, by pouring out upon it a great flood of spiritual power.
We may safely say that God Himself does not need our praise and certainly would not appreciate anything in the nature of adulation from those who might be expected to know better.
We feel and know, on the other hand, that it is good for us to lift up our hearts in praise and aspiration and to strive to unify ourselves more completely with the divine will.
But we may go further and say with all reverence that God does make use of our co-operation and in His plan counts on that intelligent and energetic cooperation more and more as man grows into spiritual maturity.
The Liberal Catholic Church aims at making its members strong and efficient workers in His service. It tries to help them to realize the divine light in themselves -the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, but which too often is veiled and hidden by ignorance and wrongdoing- and then to see that light in the heart of others and to help them to unveil its divine splendor.
It is intended that the public worship should be 'congregational' in character.
The 'priesthood of the laity' is no empty phrase, and expression should be given to the truth which it embodies. With the use of a liturgy in the Ianguage of the people there is no reason why the laity should not take an active part in much of the rite and follow step by step what is taking place at altar.
The liturgy of the Holy Eucharist opens with the asperges or sprinkling with consecrated water, whose purpose is to prepare the building, to purify and steady the thought and feeling of the people and to invoke the presence of an Angel to assist in the worship. The use of incense assists in the work of purification.
Then follows the preparation, consisting largely of ascription of praise to almighty God, intended to attune the worshippers to high and holy things. This is greatly helped by the confession and absolution.
The collect, epistle, gospel and creed draw out especially the thought of the people, whereas the, preceding sections have largely worked upon their devotion.
At the offertorium another phase of the liturgy is introduced. The bread and wine are now offered in the service of God as first-fruits of the earth and tokens of our worldly offerings. A little later, in the prayer, 'We lay before thee, 0 Lord,' these elements are offered as a symbol of the sacrifice of ourselves to God's service.
Very shortly, in the prayer of consecration, they will be offered as a channel for Christ's blessing and at yet a later stage as His most sacred Body and Blood, to be used by us as an aid to unite ourselves with His will. Then comes the splendid appeal to the congregation to lift up their hearts and, in company with the nine orders of Angels whose presence here is invoked, to give thanks to almighty God -the sursum corda and preface, followed by the sanctus.
THE DIVINE RESPONSE
We have now entered upon the canon, as it has been called since ancient times, the most important section. At the beginning of the prayer of consecration the celebrant proceeds to enumerate he special purposes or intentions for which the sacrifice is to be offered. Now come the words of consecration, the solemn act by which the bread and wine in their natural substance become the Body and Blood of Christ.
It may help us to understand this great mystery if we realize that our own bodies are vehicles or expressions of our consciousness, of the indwelling spirit; so that bread and wine which nourish our bodies become here the special expression or manifestation of Jesus Christ, the channel of His blessing for the nourishing of our souls.
All who are present must inevitably be uplifted by the radiation of His holy power and those who receive Holy Communion are brought by this blessed privilege into close and intimate union with our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Each communicant, enshrining within himself/herself for the time being the veritable presence of the Christ Life, can and should be a radiant sun and a blessing to all he/she goes forth into the world. Rightly do we regard this service as the supreme act of Christian worship and offer thanks to Him who gave it.
TRANSFORMING THE WORLD
All the love and devotion which have so freely been poured out during the service and the infinite abundance of spiritual power which has been called down from on high in response, are gathered together by the directing Angel and shed abroad upon the world along with the benediction given by the celebrant.
Through the ceremony of the Holy Eucharist, each time it is celebrated, there passes forth into the world a wave of peace and strength, the effect of which can hardly be overrated; and this, which is indeed the primary object of the service, is achieved at every celebration, whether the priest be alone in his private oratory or ministering to a vast congregation in some, magnificent cathedral.
Therefore it offers to us an unequaled opportunity of becoming laborers together with God, of doing His true and laudable service by acting as channels of His wondrous power.
Established in England in 1916 through a reorganization of the former Old Catholic Church in Great Britain, the new movement quickly spread to other countries, and in 1918 adopted its distinctive name, THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Its Episcopal succession is derived from the Old Catholic Church of Holland through Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew and his Auxiliary, Bishop Frederick Samuel Willoughby, the latter having been elected and consecrated "to safeguard the Succession."
They had built up a congregation in London which was at that time (1915) the only congregation of the Old Catholic movement in England. ."
Bishop Willoughby, who had been elected from among their number by their votes, and from whom Archbishop Mathew had, passed on the Apostolic Succession, consecrated James Ingall Wedgwood to the Episcopate as Presiding Bishop of the now autonomous body, in London on February 13, 1916. He in turn consecrated Charles Webster Leadbeater to the Episcopate in Sydney, Australia in July of that year, and the Church rapidly spread over the world, being active in over 40 countries with more than 15 languages, continuing to grow in all of them. (All services are in the language of the people).
All clergy are self-supporting, receiving no financial remuneration for their work. They are free to marry if they wish.
Nowhere is the Church large as yet, but it is steadily growing. The United States of America has its complements of bishops, priests, incorporated parishes as well as unincorporated missions, various churches, church centers and private oratories.
Prior to 1916
The Old Catholic Movement
The direct origins of the Liberal Catholic Church date back to 690 AD when St. Willibrord (657-738) began a mission to the North German tribes from what is now Utrecht, Holland. In 696 St. Willibrord was consecrated a Bishop.
By 1529 the See of Utrecht was constituted an Archbishopric.
By 1704, the greater part of the Dutch Church had become separated from the Roman Pope. Why this came about has much to do with post-renaissance politics, and something to do with theology.
The Dutch Church had given succor to a group of Jansenists (accused heretics) who were fleeing from the Jesuits. The Dutch Church was punished by the Pope by having its Archbishop "deposed."
The Dutch Church has always denied that it was Jansenist (and centuries later the Roman Catholic Church finally acknowledged its innocence), but the Dutch Church did have two things in common with the Jansenists: it did not subscribe to the doctrine of Papal Infallibility being promulgated by the Jesuits, and it stood for a degree of religious freedom unusual for those times.
As a result of these events, the majority of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands was without a Bishop until 1739. In that year Dominicus Marie Varlet, the Bishop of Babylon, had sympathy for Utrecht's plight and consecrated Petrus Johannes Meindaarts as the Archbishop for the Dutch Church - without the approval of the Pope.
The Dutch succession comes through Bishop Meindaarts. Varlet's action in consecrating Meindaarts restored the full Sacramental life of the Dutch Church.
The Dutch Church continued to proclaim the Catholic Faith during the ensuing years as it had always done, yet it remained rather isolated due to its separation from Rome.
This changed, however in 1870 when the First Vatican Council defined the dogma of the Infallibility and Universal Jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff.
This teaching was considered "new," having no adequate basis in scripture and tradition.
Various national Churches in Europe were very offended by this innovation and therefore joined with the Dutch Church to form what became known as the "Old Catholic Church"--one which was truly Catholic, but without the "new" teachings.
Eventually, the Old Catholic Church became active in England. On April 28, 1908, Arnold Harris Mathew was consecrated as the Old Catholic Bishop for Great Britain and Ireland. By 1916, the movement in England had three active bishops.
By that year also, Bishop Mathew left to rejoin the Roman Catholic Church, after breaking with Utrecht over what he perceived as a tendency towards "Modernism" and Anglicanism.
One of the three bishops left was James Ingall Wedgwood (of the famous china family) who was to become the great missionary bishop of our Church.
Bishop Wedgwood was an active member of the Theosophical Society, a school of thought founded in the late 1800's to study mysticism and comparative religion. In fact, Bp. Wedgwood had been the General Secretary of the Theosophical Society.
Bishop Wedgwood was elected the Presiding Bishop, and in concert with the newly-consecrated Charles Webster Leadbeater, translated the Latin Tridentine Liturgy into English while emphasizing a joyous and uplifting approach to worship, not marred by the inclusion of expressions of the fear of God and cries for mercy that were found in the Roman Rite. Such language could, perhaps, be tolerated when recited in Latin, but became quite intolerable in English!
The Church's name was changed to the "Liberal Catholic Church" on September 6, 1918, to reflect a growing emphasis on freedom of thought.
Using the new Liturgy, featuring freedom of thought, welcoming those still working out a faith and those who held beliefs outside traditional Christianity, the Liberal Catholic Church grew steadily throughout the world.
However, in the 1940's a controversy broke out. On the surface, it appeared to be a jurisdictional dispute between the American Clergy and the then Presiding Bishop F.W. Pigott of London, England.
As part of the dispute, Bishop Pigott "suspended" the Regionary Bishop, Charles Hampton, and all the Clergy supporting him. The latter act seemed essential to Bp. Pigott because, under the Constitution of the Church, a replacement Bishop would need the approval of two-thirds of the Priests and Deacons active in the Province, and most of them supported Bishop Hampton.
This left the Church with a battle of wills: the American Province vs. most of the rest of the world. (There was also a dispute in Europe that led to a breakaway group there.)
The result of the dispute was a division of the Liberal Catholic movement into two branches - one more theosophical in its beliefs and one more orthodox.
The two branches of the Liberal Catholic movement are similar in many ways, though quite different in others. The two branches are known as the Liberal Catholic Church International (LCCI), sometimes called the International Liberal Catholic Church, and the Liberal Catholic Church (LCC).
In America, the LCCI is the legal "Liberal Catholic Church" as a result of litigation in the 1950's. The LCC in America is usually called "The Liberal Catholic Church, Province of the United States."
Both members of the Liberal Catholic movement use the same basic liturgy, although the LCCI tends to use the Tridentine version (the Full Form) while the LCC tends to use a more esoteric version (the Shorter Form).
Both Churches acknowledge the laity's freedom of belief. Both Churches accept married and celibate clergy. Both Churches will remarry divorced people. Both Churches are open to homosexuals.
January 10, 1982
The Liberal Catholic Church--Theosophia Synod.
Due to an increasing fragmentation, intrigue, and innuendo arising within the General Episcopal Synod of the Liberal Catholic Church which has led to bitter controversy among the bishops, in 1982 The Most Reverend Ernest W. +Jackson, then Regionary Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church Province of Canada, seeking to restore the original vision of our founding Bishops C.W. + Leadbeater and J.I. +Wedgewood, founded the Liberal Catholic Church--Theosophia Synod, a daughter of the original movement.
Prior to this action, motivated by political intrigue and without Bishop +Jacksons consent or foreknowledge the General Episcopal Synod had decided to dissolve the Province of Canada.
The Bishops of the Liberal Catholic Church--Theosophia Synod are committed to promoting, preserving, and nurturing the Theosophical foundations and principles upon which our founding Bishops intended our Church to function.
The primary principle is complete freedom of individual conscience and respect for individual choice, the total rejection of all forms of dogmatic authoritarianism, Teaching that the Divine Authority of the "Inner Christ" of each person with the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the only true guidance anyone needs rely on.
On January 10, 1982 Bishop + Jackson consecrated John R. +Schwarz to the Episcopate as his successor.
The Liberal Catholic Church--Theosophia Synod shares the same Liturgy, History, Teaching, and Spiritual Values as the Liberal Catholic Church International and the Liberal Catholic Church, we are identical in spirit, with an emphasis on Theosophical values as aforementioned.
We are however a separate and autonomous ecclesiastical jusridiction.
Our Valid Apostolic Succession is well documented and proven.
BASIC TENETS OF THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH
BASIS OF TEACHING
The Liberal Catholic Church draws the central inspiration of its work from an earnest faith in the living Christ. It holds that the vitality of a church gains in proportion as its members not only revere and worship a Christ who lived two thousand years ago, but also strive to affirm in their lives the eternal Christ of whom St. John (VIII,58) speaks: "Before Abraham was, I am." It is the Christ who ever lives as a mighty spiritual presence in the world, guiding and sustaining His people.
The Liberal Catholic Church accepts in the plain, and literal sense the marvelous promise of Christ when on earth: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the age," (St. Matthew XXVIII,20).
Another promise he gave: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (St. Matthew XVIII,20).
It regards these promises as validating all Christian worship, of whatever kind, so long as it be earnest and true. But it further holds that while the promise of the presence with individual believers is thus effective, our Lord also appointed certain rites or sacraments, called 'mysteries' in the Eastern Church, for the greater helping of his people, to be handed down in his Church as special channels of his power and blessing.
Through these 'means of grace' he is ever present within His Church, giving to his people the wonderful privilege of fellowship and Communion with him, guiding and protecting them from birth to death.
THE SACRAMENTS AND APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION
The Liberal Catholic Church recognizes seven fundamental sacraments, which it enumerates as follows: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Absolution, Holy Unction, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders.
To ensure their efficacy to the worshipper, it guards with the greatest care the administration of all sacramental rites and has preserved an episcopal succession which is acknowledged as valid throughout the whole of those Churches of Christendom which maintain the Apostolic Succession of orders as a tenet of their faith.
SCRIPTURES AND TRADITION
Besides perpetuating these sacramental rites, Christ's immediate followers gave forth to His Church a body of teachings and certain principles of ethics. Much of this original teaching of the Christ has no doubt been lost; some of it has been obscured by the accretions of the ages. What remains is a priceless heritage, to be guarded with loving care and
The LiberaI Catholic Church regards the holy scriptures the creeds and the traditions of the church as the means by which the teachings of Christ have been handed down to his followers. It does not invest them with an idea of literal infallibility-nor in view of their contents and their historical career does it see how any other church can logically do so.
It deduces from them certain principles of belief and conduct, which it regards as fundamental, true and, while not exhaustive, sufficient as a basis of right understanding and right conduct. In the formulation of this body of teachings and ethics The Liberal Catholic Church takes what in some respects is a distinctive position among the churches of Christendom. The Christian church has always contained within itself different schools of thought.
The medieval schoolmen who systematized theology in the Western church followed the method of Aristotle; but the earliest among the Church Fathers of philosophic bent were Platonists, and The Liberal Catholic Church, while not undervaluing the clarity and precision of the scholastic theory, has much in common with the Platonic and Neo-Platonic schools of Christian tradition.
It holds that a theology can justify itself and be of permanent value only in so far as it partakes of the character of total divine wisdom.
That is to say, that while certain of its higher teachings remain within the category of revelation, because they are far beyond our grasp and attainment, others less remote are capable of re-verification, and even of development, by those who have unfolded within themselves the necessary spiritual faculties.
Man being in essence divine can ultimately know the Deity whose life he shares, and, by gradually unfolding through successive lives on earth the divine powers that are latent in him, can grow into knowledge and mastery of the universe, which is all the expression of that divine life.
This method of approach to divine truth is of ancient usage. It finds complete justification in scripture and has constantly appeared in the religious thought of both East and West denoting that both mysticism and eclectic philosophy are essential ingredients of religion. Thus, truth is recognized in all and any universal religious experience, wherever it is to be found and under whatever outer form.
THE FEMININE ASPECT OF DIVINITY
The Liberal Catholic Church recognizes and pays deep homage to the maternal aspect of divinity, the mother-nature of God.
The latter is looked upon as all-pervading, unfathomable, divine mystery. It brings forth and nourishes all created life. Its highest expression is the World Mother as represented by the Holy Lady Mary whose tender care for all women and children and for all who suffer supplements the divine ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This divine principle is shown forth on earth in the sanctity of life and the mystery of birth and by the sacrifice and love of human motherhood which call forth our deepest reverence and respect.
With men of old it is held that there are three truths which are absolute and which cannot be lost, for they are eternal in their divine message:
"The soul of man is immortal and its future is the future of a thing
whose growth and splendor have no limit.
"The principle which gives life dwells in us and -without us, is
undying, and eternally beneficent, is not seen or heard or felt, but is
perceived by the man who desires perception.
"Each man is his own absolute law giver, the dispenser of glory or gloom
to himself, the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.
"These truths, which are as great as life itself, are as simple as the
simplest mind of men. Feed the hungry with them."
UNITY OF ALL RELIGIONS
The Liberal Catholic Church believes that there is a body of doctrine and mystical experience common to all the great religions of the world and which cannot be claimed as the exclusive possession of any.
Moving within the orbit of Christianity and regarding itself as a distinctive Christian church it nevertheless holds that the other great religions of the world are also divinely inspired and that all proceed from a common source, though different religions stress different aspects of the various teachings and some aspects may even temporarily be ignored.
These teachings, as facts in nature, rest on their own intrinsic merit. They form that true catholic faith which is catholic because it is the statement of universal principles.
Well did St. Augustine say: "The identical thing that we now call the Christian religion existed among the ancients and has not been lacking from the beginnings of the human race until the coming of Christ in the flesh, from which moment on the true religion, which already existed, began to be called Christian." (Retract I. XIII,3).
And the same principle was in reality involved in the well-known declaration of St. Vincent of Lerins: "That let us hold which everywhere, always and by all has been believed: for this is truly and rightly catholic."
The Liberal Catholic Church, therefore, does not seek to convert people from one religion to another.
DOCTRINE OF THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH
"The LiberaI Catholic Church believes that there is body of doctrine and mystical experience common to all the great religions of the world and which cannot be claimed as the exclusive possession of any.
Moving within the orbit of Christianity and regarding itself as a distinctively Christian church it nevertheless holds that the other great religions of the world are divinely inspired and that all proceed from a common source, though different religions stress different aspects of this teaching and some aspects may even temporarily drop out of recognition.
These teachings, as facts in nature, rest in their own intrinsic merit. They form that true Catholic faith, which is Catholic because It the statement of universal principles in nature.' -from The Statement of Principles.
The following Summary of Doctrine is a concise official statement of what the bishops of the Church have from its beginning unanimously held to be such universal principles in nature, which, while of course not exhaustive, forms the only basis of a rational universe, the creation or emanation of a universal Deity who is the source and embodiment of Love, Compassion, Immutable Law and Eternal Life.
While the bishops, who feel that they have been entrusted by our Lord with the guidance of this New Reformation in His Church, believe that these Doctrines are Eternal Truth and that all men must and will eventually come to accept them and live in accordance with them, they make no demand that anyone accept any of them as a condition of membership or of communion; however, as pointed out in the final paragraph, candidates for the priesthood who are to be leaders in the Church will be selected only from among men who have already come, through their own intuition to accept these doctrines in their general sense as being truths which they can honestly teach to others who are seeking Truth.
SUMMARY OF DOCTRINE
1. The existence of God, infinite, eternal, transcendent and immanent. He is the one existence from which all other existence derived. 'In him we live and move and have our being.' (Acts xvii, 28).
2. The manifestation of God in the universe under a triplicity called in the Christian religion, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three Persons in one God, co-equal, co-eternal, the Son alone-born' of the Father, the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. The Father, the source of all; the Son, 'The Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us'; the Holy Spirit, the lifegiver, the inspirer and sanctfier.
3. Man, made in the image of God, is himself divine in essence- a spark of the divine fire. Sharing God's nature, he cannot cease to exist, therefore he is eternal and his future is one whose glory and splendor have no limit.
4. Christ ever lives as a mighty spiritual presence in the world, guiding and sustaining his people. The divinity that was manifest in him is gradually being unfolded in every man, until each shall come 'unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.' (Eph. iv, 13).
5. The world is the theatre of an ordered plan, according to which the spirit of man, by repeatedly expressing himself in varying conditions of life and experience, continually unfolds his powers. That evolution or spiritual unfoldment takes place under an inviolable law of cause and effect. 'Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall be also reap.' (Gal. vi, 6). His doings in each physical incarnation largely determine his experience after death in the intermediate world (or world of purgation) and the heavenly world and greatly influence the circumstances of his next birth. Man is a link in a vast chain of life extending from the highest to the lowest.
As he helps those below him, so also he is helped by those who stand above him on the ladder of lives, receiving thus a 'free gift of grace'. There is a 'communion of saints' of 'just men made perfect' or holy ones, who help mankind. There is a ministry of angels.
6. Man has ethical duties to himself and to others, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment, and the second like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.' (Matt. 22, 37-40)
It is the duty of man to learn to discern the divine light in himself and others-that light 'which lighteth every man (St. John i, 9).
Because men are sons of God they are brothers and inseparably linked together. That which harms one harms the entire brotherhood.
Hence a man owes it as duty to the God within himself and others: first, to endeavor constantly to live up to the highest that is in him, thereby enabling that God within himself to become more perfectly manifest, and, secondly, to recognize the fact of that brotherhood by constant effort towards unselfishness, love, consideration for, service of, his fellowman.
Service of humanity and the sacrifice of the lower self to the higher are laws of spiritual growth.
7. Christ instituted various sacraments in which 'an inward and spiritual grace' is given unto us through 'an outward and visible sign.'
There are seven of these rites which may be ranked as sacraments, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Absolution, Holy Unction, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders.
The doctrine of these sacraments is sufficiently set forth in the authorized liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the living head of the church which he founded is the true minister of all sacraments.
EMBODIMENT OF DOCTRINE
Inasmuch as the Liberal Catholic Church welcomes to its membership all who are seeking truth, it does not require its members to accept this statement of doctrine, but the statement is to be regarded as embodying the distinctive contribution of the Liberal Catholic Church to Christian thought, and the bishops of the church are prepared to accept as candidates for ordination only those who find themselves in general agreement with it.
LIBERAL CATHOLIC AFFRIMATIONS
1. We affirm a loving church where the equality of all the faithful is respected, the gulf between clergy and laity is bridged and the People of God participate in the process of selecting their bishops and pastors.
2. We affirm a church where priests may choose either a celibate or non-celibate way of life, where the right of a congregation to the Eucharist and pastoral care is more important than a rule of canon law.
3. We affirm a church which upholds the goodness and sanctity of sexuality, the primacy of conscience in deciding issues of sexual morality (for example: birth control), the human rights of all persons regardless of sexual orientation, and the importance and urgency of issues other than sexual morality (for example: peace and non-violence,harmlessness, social justice, and preservation of the environment).
5. We affirm a church which uplifts people rather than condemns them, respects primacy of conscience in all moral decision-making, embraces and welcomes those to FULL fellowship who are divorced and remarried, married priests, theologians and others who exercise freedom of speech and conscience.
6. We affirm the primacy of the "Inner Christ" of each person and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all decisions of morality and spirituality. We reject totally ipso facto the claimed authority of any canon, heirarch, or external influence which would seek to supervene the Divine Authority of the "Inner Christ." "Look Within You, The Kingdom of Heaven Is Within."
7. We affirm that "All his sons and daughters will one day reach his feet, however far they stray."
8. We affirm that "We Do Serve Him Best, When Best We Serve Our Fellow Men."
The Wisdom of Theosophy points out and gives Witness to the literal reality of the Resurrection. Liberal Catholics are a People of the Resurrection, and acknowledge the Living Presence of Christ at work in the world.
+ The Liberal Catholic Church - Theosophia Synod affirms
Diversity, Inclusion, Complete Freedom of Conscience for all members, and
Respect for Individual Choice.
We are a Church of Loving Hearts & Open Arms. We invite You to experience the Warmth & Grace of Fellowship by participating in our Parish Community.
HOLY MASS every SUNDAY 10:00 A.M.
~TRULY CATHOLIC ~TRULY FREE
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A. M. D. G.
Ad Majoriam Dei Gloriam