Old Roman Catholic Church Latin Rite

Archbishop Arnold H. Mathew, the organizer of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain, from whom all true Old Roman Catholics do proceed.

Faith of Our Fathers!


Old Roman Catholic Church: In the History Of The One True Catholic and Apostolic Church

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

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

When we speak of the first centuries, we speak especially of the first three. But in thought we include the next five also, because, in reality, the Church of the first eight centuries, in spite of its turmoils and its numerous dissentions, succeeded in remaining one in both East and West. It was not until the 9th Century that Pope Nicholas I fell away from the Eastern Church and cause schism. Although we are Westerners, Old Roman Catholics do not accept the inheritance of the faults of this pope. And claim to go further, by extending the hand to Christians of the East and inviting them to labour with us for the restoration of union between the Christian Churches of the East and the West.

The Old Roman Catholic Church is a legitimate part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, having provable unbroken Succession of Orders from, and teaching the full faith of the undivided Church. She adheres to the forms and formulae established by the early Church Fathers in order to preserve for succeeding generations the deposit of Faith received from our Lord and His Apostles.

The remark is often made that the clergy of the Old Roman Catholic Church lays an exaggerated stress on the validity of our orders - the underlying implication being that we are hypersensitive on the subject because of a subconscious fear regarding our standing. The explanation is quite different. The Old Roman Catholic clergy are forced by the very nature of things to present their credentials at every turn. We are few in numbers, relatively unknown by the public at large, educated or otherwise, and the rare references to us in religious publications most often than not brand us as a 'sect'. It is no wonder that our first concern be to establish our identity. There is perhaps no body of clergy in the world so well versed in the historical facts pertinent to their Apostolic Succession [see Appendix I] as is the clergy of the Old Roman Catholic Church.

We cannot deny that there have been scoundrels among the men who have received and handed down Old Roman Catholic orders. Men with no other religious purpose than to deceive the ignorant and unwary, whose sole aim in life is to profit temporarily by the privileges, honours and life of ease so easily attained by those who 'wear the cloth'. But we cannot remain silent if this is made a general accusation. The majority of Old Roman Catholic bishops and priests are men who dedicate their life to the growth of an ideal in a particularly difficult field. Let the accusers look into the history of their own religious group and they will cease throwing stones. To link holiness of life with the validity of orders is to strike at the very foundation of the Catholic structure -- in any Church.

The chain of Apostolic Succession has been dragged through the mire of worldly ambition many times in the past. That such may have been the unhappy experience of some sections of the Old Roman Catholic Church in relatively recent times does not impair the spiritual solidarity of every link. And our Church is making every effort to restore to it the shining beauty it should always have possessed, and is doing so in full acceptance of the facts, in humility and in truth.

So, as we do not attempt to whitewash some of the personages who link us with the past, neither do we attempt to explain away or conceal the evils that have disgraced the Church of Rome or the Eastern Churches. These evils had for their punishment the explosive fragmentation of Christian Europe at the Reformation. We only maintain that in spite of these weaknesses and these crimes, the Roman and Eastern Churches are to be regarded historically and until the Reformation the only legitimate messengers of the Gospel. As far as we are concerned, the history of the first eighteen centuries of the Roman Church is the history of our Church. The spiritual glory of the Roman Catholic Church of history is a glory, which we have inherited. Its Saints are our Saints.

The Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches were, until the Reformation, the only religious bodies claiming to be 'Catholic' in virtue of Apostolic Succession. They claimed to belong to the True Church of Christ because their clergy held an unbroken succession of orders back through the ages to the Apostles and to Christ. The Old Roman Catholic Church bases her own right to this exalted membership on the historical fact of the Apostolic chain of Succession uniting it, through the Roman Catholic Church of the past, to the Divine Master. [See Appendix II]