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Independent Catholicism

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Independent Catholicism is a branch of the Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM) comprised of individuals and organizations that self-identify as Catholic but without any formal relationship with or recognition by the Roman Catholic Church. The term "Independent Catholic" derives from the fact that "these denominations affirm both their belonging to the Catholic tradition as well as their independence from Rome."[1] In many cases, Independent Catholic clergy possess lines of apostolic succession and share valid Catholic sacraments. Most adherents choose Independent Catholicism as an alternative way to live and express their Catholic faith outside the structures and strictures of the Roman Catholic Church, rejecting certain traditional Catholic teachings, including papal infallibility and the universal jurisdiction of the pope, and adopting beliefs and practices that differ from those of the Roman Catholic Church.

Some clergy within Independent Catholicism self-identify as Old Catholic, despite a lack of affiliation with the Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches. In many cases, these clergy believe themselves to be living the spirit of Old Catholicism and/or use this as a way of explaining how they are "Catholic-but-not-Roman-Catholic." The critique is often made that Independent Catholicism, like Independent Orthodoxy and Independent Anglicanism, negatively defines itself, as "independent" from that which it is not (viz., Roman Catholicism). As a result, Independent Catholics choose a variety of ways of expressing their identity, often employing phases like American Catholic, Apostolic Catholic, Ecumenical Catholic, Free Catholic, Inclusive Catholic, Old Catholic, Old Roman Catholic, Progressive Catholic or Reformed Catholic. Various traditionalist movements that have separated from the Roman Catholic Church (e.g., Society of Saint Pius X) do not self-identify as Independent Catholic or as part of the Independent Sacramental Movement; instead many of these groups see themselves as maintaining the true Catholic faith vis-a-vis the Roman Catholic Church's novelties and, in some cases, heresies.

Largely due to the movement's "working clergy" and lack of resources, Independent Catholicism is constantly in flux, as clergy flow in and out of the movement. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, which is centered in its hierarchy, Independent Catholicism possesses no uniting structure, and most clergy are quite independent from one another and from other Independent Catholic communities and jurisdictions. Many Independent Catholics are largely unaware of the larger context of Independent Catholicism and of the Independent Sacramental Movement, thus possessing little knowledge of Independent Orthodoxy, Independent Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, Celtic Christianity, Esoteric expressions of Christianity, and other Christian clergy and communities that possess apostolic succession.

Independent Catholicism is comprised of:


Independent Catholic Resources:

  1. Mauro Castagnaro, foreword in Edward Jarvis (2019), Carlos Duarte Costa: Testament of a Socialist Bishop, Berkeley CA: The Apocryphile Press, ISBN 978-1-94964323-7.