CATECHISM

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH

Chapter 1 RELIGION AND CHURCH

Q1 — What is religion?

Religion means to bind back. Bind back to whom? Bind back to God, the Maker from whom we came. Man has an innate desire to seek communion with the Divine from whence he came. Appropriate religious exercise through prayer and sacramental service has led man towards the development of an inner life and an enhanced sense of the need to develop ethical and spiritual values.

However, religious aspirations differ from group to group. Some charges see prayer as a petition to God, and hold that an intellectual and dogmatic interpretation of the Scriptures is essential in order to obtain salvation. The Liberal Catholic Church (hereafter referred to as the LCC) rather tends towards the mystical. Devotional service becomes on of the means towards the free outpouring of the soul to the Divine, seeking union with the One through religious exercise.

Q2 — What is the purpose of the Liberal Catholic Church?

The Liberal Catholic Church exists to forward the work of its Master — Christ — in the world, and to feed His flock. There is a growing awareness amongst men and women in the world today of the reality of a spiritual world, and a belief that, whilst laboring in the material world, one may attain to a greater sense of union with the Divine through a discipline of religious and spiritual exercise

The purpose of the LCC is all-encompassing, offering sacred rites and ancient teachings in a spirit of modern understanding, and aimed at meeting the demands of a growing spiritual awareness in the world of today.

Q3 — Why should the LCC be a Catholic Church?

The LCC is a Catholic church because the original Christian faith was CATHOLIC, meaning universal or general. The word has often incorrectly assumed the meaning of allegiance to Rome. The Greek katholikos referred to a faith which is all-embracing, broad-minded, tolerant and in possession of a historical and continuous tradition dating back to the Apostles, called the Apostolic Succession.

Q4 — What does Apostolic Succession mean?

This is the method, whereby the ministry of the bishops of the church is held to be derived from the Apostles by a continuous secession.

The bishops are regarded as succeeding the Apostles because:

  1. they perform the functions of the Apostles;
  2. their commission goes back to the Apostles;
  3. they succeed one another in an unbroken succession which can be traced back to the communion of the Apostles; and
  4. through their consecration to the episcopal office, they inherit from the Apostles the transmission of the Holy Ghost, which empowers them for the performance of their work.

The validity of the Apostolic Succession of the Liberal Catholic Church has indisputably been derived from the See of Rome traditionally associated with the two Apostles, St Peter and St Paul.

Q5 — From whence does the LCC derive its authority to minister as a valid Christian Church?

From the Apostolic Succession, derived from the Old Catholic Church, which in turn derived its succession from the Roman Catholic Church. It all started in 1640, when an independent catholic movement within the Roman Catholic Church came into being as a result of Jansen’s publication Augustinus, which in 1649 was condemned as heretical. The author, Cornelius Otto Jansen, Director of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Louvain and later Bishop Ypres, conceived a plan of concerted action against the Counter-Reformation, a movement within the Roman Catholic Church at that time to modernize the Catholic faith.

Many Jansenist refugees were forced to flee the Jesuit persecution in France and Belgium. With characteristic hospitality of the Dutch towards the oppressed, they were given sanctuary in the Netherlands, which in turn caused accusations of complicity being mad against the Dutch clergy. In 1724, three bishops separated from Rome and started what became known as the Church of Utrecht.

A further separation was caused when the Vatican Council of 1870 decreed the infallibility of the Pope. Many leading scholars refused to accept so serious an innovation in Doctrine. Independent congregations were formed, who took the of Old Catholic in opposition to the new Catholicism of Rome. They were able to secure opposition to the new Catholicism of Rome. They were able to secure the Apostolic Succession from the Church of Utrecht with which they became united to form the Old Catholic Church. The latter spread to other countries on the Continent and to Britain, as well as to the USA.

Q6 — How did the Liberal Catholic Church become autonomous and independent?

The LCC became independent through a reorganization of the Old Catholic movement in Britain, which in 1918 became known as _The Liberal Catholic Church (Old Catholic)_. In 1919 the Church became autonomous under the name of the Liberal Catholic Church. The LCC is therefore an independent and autonomous church, in no way subjected to the authority of, or falling under the jurisdiction of, the Roman, or any other Catholic Church.

The foundation date, the 13th February, 1916, is the date of consecration of Bishop James Ingall Wedgwood, the first Presiding Bishop under whose untiring leadership the fledgling church took shape.

Q7 — How is the LCC governed?

The LCC is governed by the General Episcopal Synod, hereafter referred to as the GES, a body consisting of all active bishops of the church who are in good standing. The Executive Head of the GES, and therefore of the worldwide church organization, is the Presiding Bishop, who is elected by, and from amongst, the members of the GES for a term of seven years.

Chapter 2 DOGMA AND DOCTRINE

Q8 — It is said that the LCC has a doctrine and no dogmas. Why?

Dogma is derived from the Greek word dokeo, meaning to “seem.” A dogma is seen as an arrogant declaration of opinion, based on what seems to be the case. In contrast to this, a doctrine is a body of teachings and is derived from the Latin word docere, meaning to “teach.” From the same root comes the word “doctor,” he who teaches and instructs, hence the reference in the Bible to the doctors of the church.

There is a subtle, although important, difference between dogma and doctrine. Dogma is prescriptive with regard to articles of belief, doctrine is instructive.

Q9 — What then is the attitude of the LCC towards dogmas of other churches?

The LCC maintains an attitude of absolute tolerance with respect to beliefs others might hold. The LCC does not see itself in competition with other Christian sects. It recognizes that each denomination fulfills a certain purpose in feeding its flock, and that each has a unique way of being a channel for Christ’s work. Many people are in need of an unquestioned acceptance of dogma whilst exploring their own route which may endow them with moral worth and spiritual qualities, and there will be denominations which may satisfy their expectations.

The LCC Believes that it should provide a doctrine, which is distinctive and unique, and which encourages the individual to search beyond restrictions imposed by dogmas.

Q10 — What is the Liberal Catholic doctrine?

It is contained in the Statement of Principles and Summary of Doctrine, which should be studied in detail. Briefly, the Liberal Catholic doctrine is set out in seven points:

  1. The existence of God, infinite, eternal, transcendent, and immanent.
  2. The manifestation of God under the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit).
  3. Man made in the image of God is himself divine in essence – a spark of the divine fire.
  4. Christ ever lives as a mighty spiritual presence, guiding and sustaining His people.
  5. The world is the theater of an ordered plan. There is evolution, or spiritual unfoldment, a Communion of Saints, and a Ministry of Angels. The spirit of man, by repeatedly expressing himself in varying conditions of life, incarnation after incarnation, is given the opportunity of furthering the development of his spiritual powers.
  6. Man has ethical duties to himself and to others. 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 and inward and spiritual grace is given unto man through an outward and visible sign.

Q11 — Is one required to believe this statement of doctrine?

Inasmuch as the Liberal Catholic Church welcomes to its membership all who are seeking spiritual unfoldment, it does not require its members to accept the statement of doctrine. Members of the clergy are expected to be in general agreement with the Statement, even though they may hold divergent views on specific points.

Q12 — Does the statement that there is a ‘Ministry of Angels" imply that one is expected to believe in angels?

Angels are mentioned in the Bible numerous times, being described as mighty and powerful beings. The word comes from the Greek Angeloi, meaning “messenger.”

In the Catholic faith, angels have been known as taking part in ceremonial church worship, whether private of public, although the LCC does not share the traditional orthodox view that they are being called upon for their intercession for man. As much as we are part of a human kingdom, experiencing the pains and achievements of its evolution, although perhaps in a way that differs from ours.

However, whether one believes in angels or not, this is secondary to the intention and devotion with which one should take part in the service.

Chapter 3 THE SACRAMENTS

Q13 — What is a sacrament?

A sacrament is said to be an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace ordained by Christ himself. The seven traditional sacraments are: Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Absolution, Holy Communion, Holy Unction (Healing), Holy Matrimony, and Holy Orders.

The word sacramentum, which signifies an oath of allegiance, was used to render a Latin equivalent of the Greek mysterion.

Q14 — Is then the sacrament a mystery?

Indeed it is. The Greek mystes refers to an initiated person, derived from the root myo (close eyes or lips). A sacrament is therefore an inner experience, truly a mystical event of which one becomes part in an atmosphere of inner quiet and peace.

Q15 — Who may receive a sacrament?

The LCC welcomes to its altars all who reverently and sincerely approach them.

Chapter 4 RELIGIOUS PRACTICE

Q16 — Why is ritual regarded as being so fundamental a feature of catholic worship?

Ritual is to religion what habit is to life. It is for instance a matter of good manners that before a meal, one should wash one’s hands, wait for one another, perhaps say grace or observe a moment of silence, and then partake of the food. From a biological point of view, such preparation is hardly necessary. But ritual imputes a spiritual quality, the magic of enjoying companionship and well-being, of accepting a commitment to belong and to share.

Q17 — The liturgy tells when to sit, stand, or kneel. Why?

Posture is important. Sitting is a posture of attention, standing a posture of joyous participation, kneeling a posture of devotional offering. The effect of these postures is greatly enhanced when the liturgical actions are performed in unison by all present.

Q18 — Is the making of the sign of a cross of particular significance?

The sign of the cross is a sign of power. The priest makes the sign over the elements in accordance with the liturgy by which they are made over oneself, it is a sign of commitment.

Chapter 5 ETHICS

Q19 — What are the ethical ideals which one should work towards?

It is believed that ancient mystery schools set certain ethical standards as a necessary discipline to achieve these objectives, such as:

Chapter 6 POLITICS

Q20 — Does the LCC see politics as part of Christian ethics?

The LCC takes a strong stand in not permitting the church to become involved in politics in any way. The LCC regards man’s capability to think and decide for himself as his most precious good.

Q21 — But during Holy Eucharist, the priest prays for the head of state. If he or she is a politically appointed person, does the church not set a political precedent?

During the preparation for the most holy moment of Consecration of the Elements, a moment is set aside to share the tremendous forces gathered in the Church with others in the world. The prayer for the country’s leader is that he may be guided by wisdom and statesmanship in governing the land, not for any political views he may hold.

Chapter 7 MEMBERSHIP

Q22 — Who are members of the church?

Anyone who has either been baptized or confirmed in the LCC is a member of the church. Those validly baptized in another church denomination may join the LCC by a short ceremony of formal admission.

Q23 — Can the church require of its members financial pledges?

All contributions, whether by collection or by pledge, are voluntary. The church does not provide financial support towards the livelihood of its clergy. For the type of work done in the LCC, it is essential that one offers oneself to the best of one’s ability without depending upon, or needing support from, the church. Members of the clergy are required to be of independent means and may under no circumstance derive benefits from the church.

Q24 — Does the church engage itself in collections for charitable or missionary purposes?

It is the responsibility of each individual to make his contribution towards the upliftment of the peoples of Thine earth. It is not believed that a church should be engaged in fund raising for charitable or missionary purposes. The church is the temple in which the door is open to all who seek solace, peace, hope and spiritual upliftment. Religious exercise should be free from suggestions or insinuations as to how the individual should exercise his spiritual duty with respect to alleviating the many needs which beset mankind.

Q25 — Are bequests accepted by the church?

They are gratefully accepted but not solicited.


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