FAQs
about the ECC+USA
& the Catholic Faith in general.

(Click on a question below or page down.)

[Category: General Questions about the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA]

What is the Ecumenical Catholic Church + USA?

How can you claim to be Catholic if you are not united with the pope?

Are all Christians members of the universal, “catholic” body of Christ?

OK, so you’re a catholic church, what makes you different from other churches?


[Category: Sacraments, Anointing of the Sick]

When is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick administered?


[Category: Sacraments, Baptism]

Does the ECC+USA have a rite of initiation for adults similar to the RCIA? How do adults join the church?

I was reading that your church does not accept sprinkling as an acceptable form of baptism. Does this mean that the ECC+USA does not Christen or that the Church Christens in a different manner?


[Category: Sacraments, Celebration of the Eucharist]

Why do our priests sometimes use incense at the Celebration of the Eucharist?

I understand that your masses are held in the traditional form- does this mean that they are held in Latin or that they are held in the same manner as the Roman Catholic church does currently?

What is the church's position on who is allowed to receive the Eucharist? Would a person need to be confirmed in the ECC+USA, a confirmed Catholic, or any baptized Christian?


[Category: Sacraments, Penance]

Why does the priest say “I absolve you from your sins” during the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass?

What is the ECC+USA's position on confession? Is it the same as that of the Roman Catholic Church in that it is required to receive communion?


[Category: Doctrine, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Assumption]

In the Roman Catholic Church, August 15 is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. Is the Assumption a belief of the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA?


[Category: Moral Theology]

What is the ECC+USA’s official stand on stem cell research?

How does a church decide to perform same sex marriages or unions?


[Category: Church History]

[Category: Liturgical Year, Lent]

[Category: Sacraments, Penance]

Why does the priest say “I absolve you from your sins” during the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass?


At the beginning of Mass, we prepare ourselves spiritually to listen to God’s Word in the readings and sermon. We prepare ourselves to receive Jesus, who is the Word of God, in the Holy Eucharist. During the Penitential Rite, we place ourselves in the presence of God; we recall our sins against God and neighbor; we ask God to look upon our sorrow for sins and our resolution to sin no more; and then we ask God for forgiveness. Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Penance as the tangible evidence of God’s forgiveness. At this point in the Penitential Rite, the priest says, “May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you and by his authority, I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” At that moment, we have sacramental certitude that all of our sins are forgiven.

Christ instituted the Seven Sacraments as visible signs of his action in our lives. The Sacrament of Penance makes Christ’s forgiveness present in our lives. The merits of his sacred death and resurrection are applied to us to forgive our sinfulness. Then, we can confidently say “Peace” to our neighbor at the Greeting of Peace and we can begin the litany of prayers for the whole world with, “Now in peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.”

As an aside, the Roman Catholic Church calls sacramental absolution given to a whole congregation “General Absolution”. In the Roman Catholic Church, General Absolution is administered only in very special circumstances when individual and private confession of sins is not available, and then Roman Catholics must confess the sins forgiven in General Absolution the next time they have a chance for private confession. While the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA, upon request, provides for individual and private confession of sins, General Absolution during the Penitential Rite of the Mass is the preferred method of administering this sacrament and private confession later is not considered necessary or appropriate.

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[Category: Sacraments, Anointing of the Sick]

When is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick administered?

Editor's Note: While the response to this questions was written specifically for our Sts. Peter and Paul Church, the answer has general applicability.

Beginning Sunday, June 4, 2006 – the Feast of Pentecost – and the first Sunday of each quarter, we will be including a brief Service of Healing with prayers for the sick and an invitation to anointing. We are placing this rite between the Penitential Rite and the Greeting of Peace. Participation, of course, is optional.

What is the history of Anointing? Praying for the sick and Anointing of the Sick are ancient rites in Catholic Faith tradition. In the Epistle of St. James (5:14), in a list of admonitions and advice to his readers, James writes,
Is anyone among you sick?
Then he must call for the elders of the church
and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick….


The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, referred to for centuries as Extreme Unction, is largely based on James 5:14. However, the limiting of sacramental anointing to only those in proximate danger of death seems to be an unwarranted limitation of the graces of this sacrament. The Sacrament of the Sick is one of the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and is also administered in some Protestant Churches. Anglicans are divided on the issue, as many consider it a sacrament, but the rest agree that it is at least a sacramental.

Why be prayed over and anointed? As the sacrament of Marriage gives grace for the married state, Anointing gives the grace needed for the state into which people enter through sickness. Through the sacrament is given a gift of the Holy Spirit that renews confidence and faith in God and strengthens against temptations to discouragement and anguish at the thought of the consequences of our health problems. It thus leads to spiritual healing and, sometimes, bodily healing as well.

How sick do I have to be to receive prayers and anointing? Anyone who is dealing with a physical, spiritual, or psychological issue may come forward to receive prayers and anointing which asks God’s blessing to help deal with these issues and, if it is God’s will, to be cured from the affliction.

This Sacrament recognizes the frailties of the human condition and extends in a special way through the prayers of our Church community and the action of Jesus, the assisting graces we need to handle our issues of physical and spiritual health.

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[Category: Sacraments, Celebration of the Eucharist]

Editor's Note: While the response to this questions was written specifically for our Sts. Peter and Paul Church, the answer has general applicability.

There are some differences between the Mass we see at Sts. Peter and Paul and Mass when we go to a Roman Catholic Church. Why are there differences since both are the Mass?

Yes, there are several differences, some in wording and some in the order of the Mass.

You will notice a difference in the wording because we use some of Mass texts from the 1964 English translation of the Latin Mass while the RCC uses the Vatican II version called the Ordo Novus. For example, we answer the priest’s greeting The Lord be with you with And with your spirit instead of And also with you as you hear in the RCC. Both are fine, but And with your spirit is more faithful to the Latin, Et cum spiritu tuo.

In the same way, as the priest gives you Holy Communion, he says, May the body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul to life everlasting. That is closer to the Latin than simply, The Body of Christ. Responding Amen to both is meaningful and appropriate.

You will note, too, that the Offertory prayers that our priest say are longer and more detailed than those presently used in the RCC. The prayers we use are from the 1964 translation.

During the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass (aka, the Canon of the Mass), our whole congregation recites several of the prayers along with the priest. While it is traditional that the priest alone recite the prayers of the Canon, we opt for congregational participation when a prayer says “we” and implies that the prayer is intended to be a prayer that includes all present.

At the beginning of the Mass, instead of the familiar In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, our priests say: Blessed be the kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and for ages unto ages. This is the Sign of the Cross prayer that is used in Orthodox Catholic Churches and it is a prayer that we use to show our ecumenical orientation.

There are three versions of the Last Blessing that we use: the standard Catholic blessing and two blessings that you often hear in the Protestant traditions. Again, we include these for ecumenical purposes.

And, we use the ecumenical version of the Our Father adding, without inserting another prayer, For the kingdom and power and glory are yours now and forever. Amen.

Now we will look at the differences in the “order” of Mass. The Mass as celebrated at Sts. Peter and Paul Church ,and several of our other congregations, begins with the penitential rite which includes time for an examination of conscience, the “I confess” prayer, and General Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Reconciliation administered for all present. (For this sacrament to be effective when administered as General Absolution or individually in the confessional, a person after their examination of conscience must be truly sorry for his/her sins and have a resolution to sin no more and intend to receive absolution.)

On designated Sundays, General Absolution is followed by offering the Sacrament of the Sick to all through the laying on of hands and anointing with Holy Oil.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Sacrament of the Sick is then followed by the “Greeting of Peace” where members of the congregation extend a sign of Christ’s peace and love to each other.

We place the Greeting of Peace toward the beginning of Mass for two reasons. The first is that extending peace to our neighbor has a logical flow after we have made our peace with God. The second is that the Greeting of Peace, which is held just before Communion in the Roman Catholic Church, seems to break the solemnity that should be observed for Christ’s Eucharistic presence on the Altar just before we receive Holy Communion.

After the Greeting of Peace the priest goes to the Altar and then begins the “Litany of Peace” which is based on the Orthodox Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (+407). This litany is really the petition prayer of the congregation and takes the place of the RCC Prayer of the Faithful which occurs after the Creed.

Other than these few changes, the ECC+USA order of the Mass is the same as most other liturgical churches which use the traditional Western Rite Eucharistic liturgy of the Catholic Faith: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and many independent Catholic churches.

 

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[Category: Doctrine, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Assumption]

In the Roman Catholic Church, August 15 is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. Is the Assumption a belief of the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA?

There is nothing directly stated in Sacred Scriptures about this belief. There is, however, a long tradition in both the Eastern and Western manifestations of the Catholic Faith that support this belief. That Mary was taken to Heaven at the end of her earthly life is a belief based on Catholic Faith Tradition that has roots in the writings and teachings of the early Church Fathers.

In the Eastern Church, this belief is celebrated as the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. (Dormition means “sleep”; Theotokos mean “God bearer”.)

In this tradition, Mary’s earthly passing is referred to as sleep rather than death. The theology is that the sinless and immaculate Mother of God would not be subjected to death which is the consequence of Adam and Eve’s sinfulness. So, Mary went to sleep and was taken up to Heaven. There are several pious stories in early Church writings which detail the story of Mary’s passing. The Byzantine Emperor Mauritius (582-602 AD) established the Feast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some historians speculate that the celebration was already widespread before the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD.

By the end of the sixth century, the Western Church likewise celebrated the feast under the title of the “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Given this long standing and common belief in the East and West, Pope Pius XII infallibly defined for Roman Catholics on November 1, 1950 that “the Immaculate Mother of God having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” Note that Pius nicely avoided the issue between the Eastern and Western traditions on whether Mary died before being taken up to Heaven by simply saying after “the course of her earthly life.”

So what does all of this mean for us? Well, first we (members of the ECC+USA) are not held by any belief statements or infallible definitions of individual Churches of the Catholic Faith which followed the last Ecumenical Council of the undivided Catholic Faith. That last council was the Council of Nicea II in 787 AD. So, since the undivided Catholic Faith has not defined the belief in the Dormition/Assumption as a Doctrine of Faith, we are not held to assent to the doctrine. Simply put, we don’t have to believe it.

However, the fact that Mary’s Dormition/Assumption was held in the early centuries of the Catholic Faith and has persisted through at least 1,600 years as a stable traditional belief in both the East and West, should lead us to approach it with great respect and reverence. Once we accept Mary’s pivotal role in Christ’s redemption of humankind, it really is not a big leap of faith to be able to understand Mary’s Dormition/Assumption as a perk that Jesus has given to his mother, Mary the God-bearer (Mary the Theotokos).

The Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA does celebrate the Feast of the Dormition/Assumption of Mary on the traditional day for both the East and West, August 15.

 

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[Category: Moral Theology, Stem Cell Research]

What is the ECC+USA’s official stand on stem cell research?

The Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA does not have an “official” position concerning stem cell research. We believe that standing before God, we each must arrive at a decision that is congruent with our personal belief system as formed by the teachings of the Judeo-Christian Tradition, our own study of Sacred Scripture and science, and openness to God’s grace as he enables humankind to move into new understandings of creation and its capabilities.

The reality is that good people of all faith traditions are arriving at differing positions on this , and indeed, many moral issues, as scientific understanding of medical possibilities changes and grows. Some Christians are finding that the paradigms of past beliefs no longer exactly fit the rapid growth of scientific and medical advances and possibilities. Other Christians are firmly committed to what they consider immutable truths.

Our Church has a great deal of respect for the primacy of individual conscience with the caveat that each of us has the responsibility to seek out what is the truth and what is God’s will, both for us personally and for society in general. We believe that each of us will stand at the end of our life and be accountable for our moral decisions by a God who understands clearly how we formed our conscience and how we lived our lives.

There is a certain simplicity about being a member of a church that provides all the answers over a plethora of moral issues. It is much more difficult to take on the responsibility of our own conscience. That is precisely what our Church asks its members to do.

May God’s blessed grace that enables understanding be with you as you form your conscience on this and other important issues which face our rapidly changing world.

 

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[Category: Church History]

In some of your literature, you talk about Eastern and Western Catholic Church. What is that all about and where does the ECC+USA fit in?

The answer to this question covers a lot of interesting Church History. Understand that here I will only be able to present a sketchy summary – perhaps a jumping off point for your further study.

Let me start at the beginning. At the first Pentecost, the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus received the Holy Spirit and began preaching about Jesus locally in Jerusalem and they began to travel around the known world. According to church tradition, the Apostle James founded the first Christian community at Jerusalem and became its first elder – a position we would now call “bishop”. Bartholemew preached the Gospel in Lycaonia, India, and Armenia; Andrew visited Russia as far as the city of Kiev; Jude preached in Syria and Edessa; Matthew preached to the Jews first, then traveled to Ethiopia, Macedonia, Syria, and Persia; Peter preached and was martyred in Rome; and Paul preached to the Gentiles eventually ending up in Rome where he was martyred. The point here is that each of the Apostles and many of the Disciples of Jesus went to various parts of the world where they preached and set up Christian communities. Some of these churches grew into significantly large communities and became seats (sees) of Christianity with their own head bishop who was called their Patriarch.

The Patriarchial Sees developed in periods of persecution and toleration during the first two centuries. During this time, Rome was the center of the Roman Empire and the center of Christianity. Two things happen in the first quarter of the 4th Century that would begin the long process of separating the Church that Christ founded into Eastern and Western divisions. In 313 AD, the Emperor Constantine, following a vision of a cross in the sky with the inscription In this sign conquer, made the cross the insignia of his military, he defeated a rival army, and subsequently became the first Emperor to embrace Christianity. He then proclaimed an official tolerance of the Christian faith. In 324 AD, the second event occurred, Constantine moved his imperial capital from Rome to Byzantium which he named in his own honor “Constantinople”. And thus, Constantinople (the East) became the counterpoint to Rome (the West) as the seat of both civil and Church authority.

Constantine called the first ecumenical council of the undivided Church at Nicea in 325 AD. The Partriarchs and their bishops came to this first council united in faith and with shared authority over the Church. However, as the Church developed in future councils, not all the Patriarchs considered themselves just to be equals.

Well, so much for the first three hundred years of the Catholic Faith, now we continue with a look at the first seven councils of the Church as we move toward the political and doctrinal separation of Christianity in the East and West.

Strictly speaking, there have only been seven ecumenical councils of the Catholic Faith. Ecumenical refers to “totality” and thus an Ecumenical Council is a meeting of the totality of the Catholic Church. Well, that has not happened at least since 1054 AD when the Eastern and Western patriarchs excommunicated each other and formed a Catholic Church of the East (referred to as Orthodox Catholic Church) and the Catholic Church of the West (referred to as the Roman Catholic Church with the Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, as its head).

The Council of Jerusalem, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 15),
set the ground work to establishing that in council the members of the Church can together claim an authority of teaching and decision-making which individually none of them possess. The Seven Ecumenical Councils which met in the period from 325 to 787 AD performed two basic tasks: 1) They formulated the visible, ecclesiastical organization of the Church by establishing the ranking of the five Patriarchates; and 2) they defined, usually in response to heresy, the teachings of the Church by formulating the basic dogmas concerning the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of the Son.

The teachings of the Seven Councils, very briefly:
Nicea I (325 AD)
Doctrine: the Son is one in essence with the Father;
Polity: Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch recognized as the great Sees.

Constantinople I (381 AD)
Doctrine: the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and is equal to Father and Son.
Polity: Constantinople should have the place of honor after Rome.

Ephesus (431 AD)
Doctrine: Mary is mother of Jesus who was both God and man.

Chalcedon (451 AD)
Doctrine: Jesus is truly God and truly man; two natures unconfused, unchanged, undivided and inseparable.
Polity: The place of Constantinople after Rome was confirmed.

Constantinople II (553 AD)
Doctrine: Jesus, the Son of God, is one of the Holy Trinity.

Constantinople III (681 AD)

Doctrine: Christ has two natures, and two wills – human and divine.

Nicea II (787 AD)
Doctrine: Veneration of Holy Icons (and by extension statues) is not idolatry and is useful in prayer and understanding of the Incarnation.

Next came the Great Schism. The year of the Great Schism, 1054 AD, is a most significant date for independent Catholics Churches like the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA. Firm, undeniable beliefs are set at that date because after the split of East and West there can be no truly ecumenical council of the Catholic Faith. So, the beliefs of our Church are based on the beliefs established by the undivided Catholic Faith before that date.

A second major date for us, jumping ahead six centuries, is 1870 AD when the Old Catholic Church was established. At the First Vatican Council (which the RCC erroneously calls an Ecumenical Council) in 1870, the bishops defined that the Pope of Rome is infallible when he speaks officially as Pope in matters of faith and morals. Not all the bishops, particularly the bishops of Holland, accepted that doctrine. As a result, the Old Catholic Church was established as a schismatic church and continues to this day. While not specifically recognized by the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht, the ECC+USA is a spiritual descendent of that Church because our bishops have Apostolic Succession through the Old Catholic Church.

A third significant date for us, is May 29, 1892. On that day, Joseph René Vilatte was consecrated a bishop by the Syrian Jacobite Church in Ceylon. Our bishops are consecrated in Vilatte’s line of Apostolic Succession.

A fourth important date for us, is the episcopal consecration of Carlos Duarte-Costa on December 8, 1924. In 1945, Costa being separated from the Roman Catholic Church founded the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil. Our bishops are also consecrated in his line of Apostolic Succession.

A final momentous date for us is November 1, 2001. On that date our Church was founded at a synod of bishops, priests and laity in Milltown, New Jersey. From that event we were joined spiritually with the hundreds of other independent Catholic Faith splinter groups in the United States and throughout the world.

So, at last, where do we fit in? We are a Church of the Catholic Faith. We are faithful to the teachings and traditions of the early Church and the seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Catholic Faith. Our bishops were consecrated in the lines of Apostolic Succession through at least three credible sources: Old Catholic, Vilatte, and Duarte-Costa. So, our Church is ONE with the Catholic Faith, HOLY because it believes, teaches, and lives the mercy of Christ, and APOSTOLIC because its source of authority is Jesus through his Apostles.

 

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[Category: Sacraments, Celebration of the Eucharist, Liturgy]

Why do our priests sometimes use incense at the Celebration of the Eucharist?

Like many of the symbols that surround the Celebration of the Eucharist (Mass), incense is intended to involve our senses in the ritual. We see vestments, sacred vessels, and the altar; processions, standing, sitting, kneeling, involve kinesthetic sense; listening to music, readings and bells focuses hearing; we taste bread and wine; and, we smell the fragrance of incense. The liturgy aims to wrap us completely in the worship of Almighty God.

While incense can be used at every celebration of Mass, it is generally reserved to add more solemnity to major feasts and major gathering of the Christian community such as the Sunday Eucharist. The use of incense is required by ancient Catholic Tradition for certain services, such as Benediction and blessing the body of the deceased at funerals.
The use of incense at worship services has roots in the Old Testament accounts of the Levitical priesthood at the Temple in Jerusalem (see Exodus 30:34-36). Throughout Sacred Scripture, the presence and glory of God are represented by a cloud of smoke (see Exodus 14:19 and 16:10). Even in the time of Christ the glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud. The account of the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35) speaks of the cloud overshadowing Peter, James, and John and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And from that cloud came the voice of God proclaiming that Jesus was his son. Finally, in the Book of Revelation (15:8) the temple of God is filled with smoke from the censors as angels worship God’s presence.

So, incense reminds us of the presence of God in our midst. Incense is also used to represent our prayers; when the priest incenses the altar, he prays “Let our prayers rise before you, O Lord, as incense in your sight.”

“Incensing” is intended to respect the holiness of that which is incensed. At Mass, the altar is incensed at the beginning of Mass; the celebrant is incensed; the book of the Gospels is incensed before it is read to the congregation; the gifts of bread and wine which are symbols of the work of humankind that will be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ are incensed; then the People of God, the congregation, is incensed; and finally, the Eucharist is incensed as the priest lifts the consecrated bread and wine immediately after the consecration.

As the priest follows the ancient ritual of incensing the bread and wine at the offertory, he says, “May this incense ascend up to you, O Lord, and may your mercy come down upon us.”

 

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[Category: Liturgical Year, Lent]

Does the ECC+USA have any regulations for Lent?


As Christians and members of the Catholic Faith, we should get involved with the Lenten spirit. First, you need to know that the ECC+USA has no formal regulations regarding fasting and abstaining from meat during Lent. However, as a church of the Catholic Faith tradition, each of us should take Lent seriously and fulfill the purpose of Lent as an important part of our personal spiritual life.

The purpose of Lent is to prepare our minds, hearts, and spirit to celebrate again the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Easter is the cornerstone feast in the Christian faith because Jesus overcame death and rose to the fullness of life. Further, it is the guarantee that we too shall have eternal life with God. Easter is a feast worthy of our spiritual preparation; and that is the purpose of Lent.

Before they began their public ministry, the Old Testament prophets went into the desert for 40 days to fast and pray so that they would have the strength to endure the problems which they would find as they preached to call God’s people back from their evil ways. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert in fasting and prayer preparing to begin his mission of saving humankind from the effects of sinfulness.

So then, the 40 days of Lent are for us to prepare ourselves to be more like Jesus and to prepare ourselves to bring Jesus into this world of ours. The usual Lenten traditions are increased prayer, doing acts of charity, joining the church community at the Celebration of the Eucharist more frequently, and not eating (abstaining) from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.

Violet (purple) colored vestments are worn by the priest during the Masses of Lent. Seeing this color of penance helps us keep in mind that Lent is a time of penance for our failings. After a well-spent Lent, we will be ready symbolically and liturgically to rise to the newness of life in Jesus our Risen Savior both on this Easter Sunday and at the end of our earthly lives.

 

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[Category: General Questions about the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA]

What is the Ecumenical Catholic Church + USA?

It has been said that the ECC+USA is “an ancient church with a modern perspective.” We share historical roots and a common appreciation of liturgical rites and religious practices with churches as the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches and the Old Catholic Churches. We are, however, not in any way associated with or under any form of jurisdiction by Roman Catholic Church.

One might rightly consider our faith community as an "atmosphere of ecumenical grace", embracing all Christian believers and the un-churched, aiding them in their journey into the Divine.

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[Category: General Questions about the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA]
How can you claim to be Catholic if you are not united with the pope?

Those Christians united with the bishop of Rome (the Pope) are what is commonly referred to as Roman Catholics. However, there is a much larger Catholic Church. Taken from the Greek katholikos meaning “universal,” the word catholic was first used by church father St. Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Smyrneans in the year 110 AD.


"Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church.”

 

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[Category: General Questions about the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA]

Are all Christians members of the universal, “catholic” body of Christ?

All Christians are indeed members of the universal “body of Christ.” There are many manifestations of the Catholic Faith. The Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and many other churches who profess the Catholic Faith in doctrine and liturgy are among the many heirs to the ancient universal Church begun by Christ and his apostles. As a matter of fact, millions of Roman Catholics and non-Roman Catholics proclaim their membership to the universal church of Christ each Sunday when reciting the Apostle’s Creed.


"… I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen."

 

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[Category: General Questions about the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA]

OK, so you’re a catholic church, what makes you different from other churches?


Being a theologically open and ecumenical church, we make all sacraments available to anyone who believes in the divinity and teachings of Jesus Christ. Specifically, the sacrament of Holy Orders at all levels (deacon, priest, bishop) is open to both men and women (married or single). Indeed, women who are ordained as deacons, priests and bishops serve with the same rights, privileges, responsibilities, and obligations as our male deacons, priests, and bishops. Each of our clergy holds a full time job through which he/she supports his/her family and ministry.

In the ECC+USA considerable decision making responsibilities rest with the church members themselves. This not only includes direct input into local parish dealings, but also with the selection of church pastors and church bishops.

All members of our church have a right and responsibility to answer their individual vocation. A call to ministry ranges from parent to pastor, and everything in between!
The ECC+USA is a special place. It is a home where all spiritual gifts are welcomed and encouraged to fully mature. Each one of us is just as important and responsible as the next.

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[Category: Sacraments, Baptism]

Does the ECC+USA have a rite of initiation for adults similar to the RCIA? How do adults join the church?

We do not have a formal RCIA program. Our priests provide instruction based on the background and interest of the individual person and then the person is simply received, Baptized if necessary, Confirmed when appropriate. Remember that we are a small Church will only several formal congregations — and they are small with the largest being about 60 people. After a newly baptized person has practice his/her new faith for awhile, we will offer him/her the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Our Church Law states the following in Chapter 2, Section 1: Membership in the Church.

A necessary and sufficient condition for membership in this church is to believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to be configured to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, through the Sacrament of Baptism. So, any Baptized Christian is welcomed to membership in this church and invited to full participation in the sacraments, ministry, and polity of the church.

Reception into membership in the church is through the local congregation or, in its place, through a clergyperson of the church.

 

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[Category: Sacraments, Celebration of the Eucharist]

I understand that your masses are held in the traditional form- does this mean that they are held in Latin or that they are held in the same manner as the Roman Catholic church does currently?

Sometimes we have some sung parts of the Mass in Latin, but normally our Mass is in English. Our priests and their congregations may use any of the traditional Catholic liturgies either in the original language or the vernacular. Several congregations use an adapted version of the English translation of the 1964 Roman Missal (this is the Liturgy of St. Gregory; also called the Roman Liturgy and sometimes the Trendentine Mass.) Some of our priests use the RCC’s current Mass called the Ordo Novus. One of our priests uses the Liturgy of St. Basil which is found in the Orthodox tradition; another uses a more modern Eastern Rite Mass (Meronite Liturgy in the Lebanese Tradition.)

In sum, we can use any Mass liturgy which meets the traditional standards of the Catholic Faith. Our Church Law, available on our website, gives the details about selecting and using liturgies. Practically speaking, using the liturgy of the RCC, Anglican, and Episcopal Church are the most convenient because they all have printed readings, missals and prayerbooks which we can buy and use with our congregations.

 

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[Category: Sacraments, Celebration of the Eucharist]

What is the church's position on who is allowed to receive the Eucharist? Would a person need to be confirmed in the ECC+USA, a confirmed Catholic, or any baptized Christian?

All baptized Christians who believe that Jesus in present in the Eucharist are invited and welcome to receive Holy Communion at our altars. While the RCC requires that Roman Catholics believe that Christ is present as defined by the doctrine of Transubstantiation, we do not ask people to explain “how” they believe that Christ is present. We believe that Christ is really present, but the “how” is a “great mystery” as the Orthodox Church teaches. We do believe that Christ is really and truly present in the Eucharist and not simply symbolically present as some churches believe. Those of us from the RCC tradition (and we do currently have four former RCC priests and and three former RCC seminarians who were ordained in our Church) have been raised in the Transubstantiation traditional belief so we have no problem accepting it as the “how” Christ is present in the Eucharist. But, belief that Christ is present and not dealing with the issue of how, is sufficient to receive Holy Communion in our Church. We have never asked anyone to explain their belief on how Christ is present. It is the great mystery of the Catholic Faith.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is not required to receive the Eucharist in Catholic Faith tradition.

 

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[Category: Sacraments, Baptism]

I was reading that your church does not accept sprinkling as an acceptable form of baptism. Does this mean that the ECC+USA does not Christen or that the Church Christens in a different manner?

There are three ways that Christians Churches generally administer Baptism: sprinkling, pouring, and emersion. The Catholic Faith has always required that water flow over the person as the minister says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In sprinkling, water may or may not flow over the person; so it is considered unacceptable within the Catholic Faith Tradition and consequently, by our Church. When water is poured over a person’s head, water flows and thus that criterion is met. When a person is dipped under water as in emersion, water obviously flows and the criterion of flowing water is met. Both pouring and emersion are used and accepted as valid by our Church and by all other churches in the Catholic Faith tradition. . A couple of our clergy from the Orthodox Catholic tradition prefer and use emersion. Those of us from the RCC tradition generally use pouring as the more convenient form of administering the Sacrament of Baptism.

 

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[Category: Sacraments, Penance]

What is the ECC+USA's position on confession? Is it the same as that of the Roman Catholic Church in that it is required to receive communion?

We each need to make our peace with Almighty God before receiving Holy Communion. However, sacramental Confession is not required (and, by the way, it is not required in the RCC unless the person has committed what the RCC considers a Mortal Sin).

We include the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) as part of the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass. While the RCC rarely uses what is called General Absolution (that is, sacramental absolution without the individual telling his/her sins to a priest), we administer General Absolution as part of the beginning of Mass. While our priests can provide for the individual confession of sins followed by individual absolution, it is not the preferred option in our Church. Also, unlike the RCC we do not require that a person later make an individual confession of his/her sins to a priest after receiving General Absolution.

 

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[Category: Intercommunion, Roman Catholics at Old Catholic Churches]

Can Roman Catholics attend Old Catholic Mass and Receive their Sacraments?

[Note: The question was asked by one of our priests who serves as a chaplain at a nursing home in his community. At the nursing home, some of the Eucharistic ministers from the local Roman Catholic Church who bring communion once a week have told residents they should not attend this priest's masses and that he was not really an ordained priest and couldn't consecrate the Eucharist. The question was directed to a Roman Catholic Canon Lawyer and this is his response on July 26, 2006.]

Thank you for asking about Eucharistic sharing by Catholic patients at a Mass celebrated by an Old Catholic priest.

The Code of Canon Law published in 1983 under Pope John Paul II and the Ecumenical Directory published in 1993 are quite clear on the question you asked. (This is canon 844 in the new code.) After stating that Catholics may receive the sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and Eucharist from Orthodox priests,
“whenever necessity requires or genuine spiritual advantage suggest, and provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, it is lawful for the faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and the anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose churches these sacraments are valid....) (Canon 844# 2).

In the following paragraph (Canon 844#3) the code says: Catholic ministers may licitly administer the sacraments...to members of the oriental churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, --- if they ask on their own for the sacraments and are properly disposed.

This holds also for members of other churches, which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition as the oriental churches as far as these sacraments are concerned. (Canon 844#3) --- (See also the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism #123 ff.)

The validity of the sacraments of the Old Catholics and their ordination is clearly found in other documentation, especially in official dialogues on this question. They would fall under the description in Canon 844#3.

The institution is right in saying they approve of the ministry of the gentleman in question. The Eucharistic ministers need to consult appropriate literature on the matter.

 

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[Category: Intercommunion, ECC+USA members receiving Holy Communion in a Roman Catholic Church]

There is no ECC+USA congregation near where I live. I would like to continue receiving communion. Would I be allowed to receive it in a Roman Catholic church? I also would like to remain active in a local Community of believers.

There is no reason, as far as we are concerned, that you can not receive Holy Communion in a Roman Catholic Church. I do receive Holy Communion when I attend an RC Church for a wedding or a funeral. I also receive Holy Communion in the Episcopal Church when I attend.

Is your concern that the RCC would not want you to receive Holy Communion in its churches because you are not a Roman Catholic?

If so, two things. First, we believe that no church owns the Sacraments to the point that it can control who may or may not receive a sacrament. Jesus gave the sacraments to all humankind to aid us in our spiritual efforts to configure our lives to his. So, in our opinion, there is no reason that you could not go into any church in the Catholic Faith tradition to receive the Holy Eucharist. Just do what all the other worshippers do.

When we receive Holy Communion in an RC church, we do not make a big deal that we are not Roman Catholic, etc. That would be disrespectful to their traditions and would also cause the priest to tell us that we are not welcome because that is either his belief or at least the directive from his superiors. There just is no point to make a scene or cause a problem, that would not reflect reverence for the Sacrament.

Many other churches of the Catholic Faith welcome visitors and non members to receive Holy Communion at their services.

There is also no requirement in our church that you disassociate yourself with the social and worship aspects of other churches. We value and believe in the doctrines and traditions of the Catholic Faith, however, we have a great deal of respect for all other churches and, particularly in the absence of having one of our congregations available, we would bless your efforts to stay involved with a local community of believers.

 

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[Category: Intercommunion, ECC+USA members receiving Holy Communion in a Roman Catholic Church]

There is no ECC+USA congregation near where I live. I would like to continue receiving communion. Would I be allowed to receive it in a Roman Catholic church? I also would like to remain active in a local Community of believers.

There is no reason, as far as we are concerned, that you can not receive Holy Communion in a Roman Catholic Church. I do receive Holy Communion when I attend an RC Church for a wedding or a funeral. I also receive Holy Communion in the Episcopal Church when I attend.

Is your concern that the RCC would not want you to receive Holy Communion in its churches because you are not a Roman Catholic?

If so, two things. First, we believe that no church owns the Sacraments to the point that it can control who may or may not receive a sacrament. Jesus gave the sacraments to all humankind to aid us in our spiritual efforts to configure our lives to his. So, in our opinion, there is no reason that you could not go into any church in the Catholic Faith tradition to receive the Holy Eucharist. Just do what all the other worshippers do.

When we receive Holy Communion in an RC church, we do not make a big deal that we are not Roman Catholic, etc. That would be disrespectful to their traditions and would also cause the priest to tell us that we are not welcome because that is either his belief or at least the directive from his superiors. There just is no point to make a scene or cause a problem, that would not reflect reverence for the Sacrament.

Many other churches of the Catholic Faith welcome visitors and non members to receive Holy Communion at their services.

There is also no requirement in our church that you disassociate yourself with the social and worship aspects of other churches. We value and believe in the doctrines and traditions of the Catholic Faith, however, we have a great deal of respect for all other churches and, particularly in the absence of having one of our congregations available, we would bless your efforts to stay involved with a local community of believers.

 

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