In the history of Christianity, the first seven
General Ecumenical Councils, from the First Council of Nicaea (325) to the Second Council of Nicaea (787), represented the efforts of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to reach orthodox consensus of faith, and to continue and develop
a unified Christendom. The East/West Schism formally dated to 1054, was still almost three centuries off from the last of these Councils.
These Councils are:
First Council of Nicaea (325)
First Council of Constantinople (381)
Council of Ephesus (431)
of Chalcedon (451)
Second Council of Constantinople
Third Council of Constantinople (680)
Second Council of Nicaea (787)
The Old Catholic Church in the United Kingdom accepts all seven of these Councils and, therefore, all of the Canons which were promulgated by them.
Old Catholic Church in the United Kingdom utilises the words ‘Old Catholic’ in It’s title as a direct reference to It’s fidelity to Catholic dogma and doctrine of this period of time in the life of the Catholic Church.
1.1 The Province of the United Kingdom and Ireland provides the jurisdiction within which The Old Catholic Church in the United Kingdom was founded.
2 These Canons may be added-to or amended as seen fit by the Sacred College of Bishops.
1.3 The Sacred College seeks to be as open and transparent as is reasonable and practical
in its day-to-day governance of the Church.
2.1 The Old Catholic Church in the United Kingdom (hereinafter ‘the Church’) proclaims the Gospel of our Lord Jesus
Christ and seeks to provide a home for Old Catholics.
2.2 For avoidance of any doubt, the Church is an Orthodox Christian denomination and part of the One, Holy, Catholic
and Apostolic Church. Members of the Church accept the Doctrines, Creeds, Canons and Sacred Tradition of the early Church and uphold Catholic Practice.
STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS
3.1 The Province and the Church are governed by the Sacred College of Bishops, advised by the Synod of Senior Clergy, namely the Vicar General, the Chancellor, and such clergy as they
may appoint, together with the Bishops making up the Provincial Council.
3.2 The Provincial Council will meet or be in contact regularly.
3.3 The Presiding Bishop is the Primate of the Church. He is a Bishop elected from among the Bishops to provide a focus of unity for the Province as a whole, and for the Episcopate in particular, and to act as
a spokesperson for the Church. He is regarded as Primus inter pares.
3.4 In the event of a dispute involving a tied vote as to the resolution of any such dispute
the Primate shall have the casting vote.
3.5 Save for that referred to in 3. 1 above, the Primate is given power among his fellow Bishops to hold Primatial authority
to ensure that all govern collegially, effectively and rightly. In effect the Primate is the ‘Chief Executive’ of the Church.
3.6 The Primate shall remain in
post for a period of five years unless he becomes physically or mentally incapacitated and unable, in the view of the College, to carry out his duties; or for good and serious reason he is deposed by agreement of the College of Bishops.
3.7 The Primate will call and chair the Provincial Council and the Bishop’s Conference. He is also a member of all diocesan bodies.
3.8 The Bishop’s Conference is the assembly of all the Bishops of the Province. It will meet regularly, and the meetings will normally be open to all members of the Church, who may speak but will not have voting rights.
3.9 The Province may organise religious organisations to enhance and further the work of the Church and this may include Religious Orders under the Patronage of the Primate.
3.10 The Province is divided into Dioceses.
3.11 Diocese are determined by the College of Bishops
in association with the Synods of the Church.
3.12 The Church’ spiritual home is the Pro-Cathedral and Priory Church of St Thomas, Rugeley, Staffordshire and is to
be supported by Clergy and lay members financially (free will offering) and practically without question and is deemed a duty and part of one’s own development and spirituality.
CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS TO OCCUK
Church tithes and offerings come under the legal rubric of “charitable contributions.”
All charitable contributions are gifts; and by definition, a gift is an “irrevocable transfer of the donor’s entire interest in the donated cash or property.” Simply stated: once a person gives money for church use, either through the Offertory
Plate or other means, it is no longer their money or property.
Designated and Undesignated:
is particularly true in the case of what are called “undesignated gifts.” Undesignated gifts are your regular tithes and/or freewill offerings that you place in the offering plate or occasionally give or send to the Church Treasurer
All such giving is unconditional and therefore the church is under no legal obligation whatsoever to refund any undesignated contributions.
"Designated Gifts” are slightly different. For example, if you decide to give, say, £1000 towards your church for a specific project, the church is obligated to use the money for specifically that purpose.
The implied understanding is that the church holds the gift in trust for that designated purpose. As long as the church uses the money for the designated purpose, there is no obligation
on its part to refund such moneys.
However, church plans and programs sometimes do change. When they do, the church is under obligation to notify the giver or donor
of the change. It is up to the giver/donor to then instruct the church on what to do with the funds. He or she may request a refund. Or they may just transfer that amount into the church’s general-purpose fund. The latter is in fact how most serious
and faithful Christians treat such situations.
CLERGY AND ORDINANDS
At any time, as the Church needs, any person may submit the name of a cleric to be considered for the Episcopate to the College of Bishops. Such persons should normally be over 35 years of age. Candidates for Ordination to the Diaconate should normally be
21 years of age or over. Candidates for Ordination to the Priesthood should normally be 25 years of age or over.
4.2 All who are to be Ordinands must hold to the Sacred Orders
of Bishop, Priest and Deacon, and believe, according to the Holy Bible and the Sacred Tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church, that all who hold these orders must be men of demonstrable high moral character.
4.3 All Rites used in Diaconal and Priestly Ordination, or the Consecration to the Episcopate, must be those accepted by the Church which has a proven Apostolic Tradition.
4.4 Clerics who have been already ordained according to Apostolic Tradition in any valid Catholic Church, may be incardinated into the Church and licensed for ministry. These will need to provide the documentation
required by the Church authorities at that time. These documents will normally include the Church application process, letters of Ordination and an Enhanced Disclosure/Police Check to ensure that there have been no offences against minors or any other serious
offences. If there is doubt as to the validity of their Orders, ordination sub- conditione may be advised.
4.5 Only a baptised man can validly receive ordination
to the Diaconate and Priesthood, and consecration to the Episcopate.
4.6 Candidates for ordination must submit documentation of their baptism and confirmation, accompanied
by the Church’s application documents.
4.7 A priest should: daily offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the Church, for the world and the Church Suffering, but he
is obliged on all Sundays to offer Mass pro populo (for the people); he is to administer the holy Sacraments (except for Confirmation and Ordination), and recite daily the three Offices of Lauds, Vespers and Compline. The priest will keep
proper and full registers of baptisms, marriages, funerals and any other services conducted. He is to ensure that all entries are accurately made. Certificates should be issued to the recipients if requested.
At all times, and in all places, a Bishop, Priest, Deacon and Sub-Deacon are to demonstrate a countenance and demeanour worthy of the Gospel ethic and an ambassador of OCCUK. Any behaviour which is considered to be unacceptable
by the College of Bishops will be dealt with by the College and appropriate sanctions given. Any behaviour which is criminal, or considered to be of a serious nature, will be immediately reported to the relevant authorities. If a Cleric or Religious acts in
such a way that brings the Church into disrepute, or acts in a manner not befitting Holy Orders or otherwise, termination may be authorised by the College of Bishop’s. Clerics who are guilty of a criminal offence will not be supported financially in
their defence, and may also face suspension, or even ex-communication, from the Old Catholic Church UK as determined by the College.
4.8 The Bishop, Priest, Deacon and Sub-Deacon
are at all times and in all places to speak, preach and teach the Gospel in both word and action. They are to always pay due respect and veneration to the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Married clergy are to be faithful to their spouse. They
will endeavour to continue their training and learning of the Church, of Sacred Tradition and of Holy Scripture, so as to be always ready to give answer to any questions regarding the beliefs of the Church. They are to endeavour to enrich their spirituality
by prayer, devotions and self-discipline.
4.9 Priests, Deacons and Sub-Deacons will submit themselves to the authority of the Primate and their own Diocesan Bishop.
4.10 Deacons may proclaim the Gospel, preach, baptize, conduct funerals, assist the celebrant during Mass and any other service authorized by the Ordinary.
4.11 Sub-Deacons may serve at the Altar, read the Lessons, and serve the Deacon, the Priest and the Bishop in whatever is necessary for them to do.
4.11 The Clergy of the Church may work in full-time ministry or may have secular employment. They will receive no stipend. They may charge for clerical work outside of the Sacraments, but the Sacraments are to be a free gift from God. They
may, however, accept offerings for their work, as this is regarded as a gift from the recipient to aid the ministerial expenses which help others. The cleric must keep proper accounts and submit as required to the taxation laws.
4.12 Those Priests who are also Companions of Jesus are to endeavour to offer Mass daily, pray the daily prayers of the Companions of Jesus, daily to read a portion of Scripture (not counting the readings at Mass
and the Offices) and a portion of the Rule of St. Benedict. Those Companions of Jesus who are Sub-Deacons, Deacons or Religious, are to endeavour to attend daily Mass, are obliged to attend Mass on Sundays, should recite daily the prayers of the Companions
of Jesus, and daily to read a portion of Scripture (not counting the readings at Mass and the Offices) and a portion of the Rule of St. Benedict/St. Francis.
4 13 All Priests,
Deacons and Sub-Deacons are to receive an annual appraisal from their superior. The Bishops will receive their annual appraisal within the College forum.
4.14 Celibacy is
not required of any person in the Church but may be adopted as a personal choice by an Ordinand, Cleric or Religious; as also continence after Ordination is a personal choice agreed between husband and wife.
4.15 Priestly vocation is a life-long commitment. Resignation within the Old Catholic Church in the United Kingdom is explored by counsel and support with the Ordinary or his delegate; failing this, a period of sabbatical
would be recommended, then finally in the submitting a letter of resignation.
THE SACRED LITURGY AND SACRAMENTS
5. The authorised Rites of Sacred Liturgy:
The Mathew Rite: the Tridentine Rite of Ages of the authorised Archbishop Mathew English translation
The OCCUK Common Rite 2017: the adapted translation of the Mathew Rite.
Catholic Rites, only as and when approved and authorised by the Sacred College.
5.2 Any other Rites (eg. Marriage, Funerals, Absolution, Ordinations, Exorcisms, etc.) must
be those authorised by the College of Bishops.
5.3 The Rites of Holy Mother Church are to be refused to no-one who is dying. Similarly, a Catholic/Christian burial is to
be refused to no-one who requests it.
in the Old Catholic Church: is also called holy matrimony and is the covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership for the whole of their earthly life. It
is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, and which has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between baptised
people. Marriage then is a free mutual agreement or contract, between one man, as husband and one women, as wife for the whole of their earthly lives together.
The intimate community of life and love which constitutes
the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws and God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator.
Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics.
Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely
bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.
The Church attaches
great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage
will be an efficacious sign of Christ's presence. In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning and permission given by Moses to divorce one's wife was a concession
to those who displayed hardness of hearts. The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it 'what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder'. This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of
the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original
order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God.
the reality that some marital bonds may dissolve and cannot be reconciled, the Church does not believe that the Sacramental Grace can remain present in a marital relationship in which there is emotional or physical violence, permanent abandonment,
or the proven inability to maintain marital fidelity. The Grace of the Sacrament is not present in such relationships of pain and misery. Thus, the Church must allow persons the freedom to leave such relationships and to permit such persons
the opportunity to invite Christ into a spirit-filled Marriage. Therefore, a person may petition the Bishops of the Church to declare a Marriage non-binding and nullified for the following conditions:
i Physical violence.
ii Psychological violence.
iv Proven inability to maintain marital fidelity.
v Realization of true sexual orientation incompatible with the form of the Marriage.