One Lord, One Church
This Church believes in the essential unity of all Christians who teach and practice the Faith of the undivided Church. There is no Biblical support for denominations.
Jesus Christ prayed: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (St. John 17:21) Because the Church believes that Christ is God Incarnate, His words must be regarded as the revealed will of God. It must follow, then, that anything contrary is heretical and of the nature of sin. For this reason, Caritas Catholic Church regards as heretical and sinful the denial of the Sacraments to believing and practicing Christians.
Jesus said: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. (St. Mark 2:27) Christ Catholic Church says: The Church was made for man, and not man for the Church. The Church does not save it is only our Lord Jesus who can save and empower through the Holy Spirit to help us live a life in Christ and make us fit to live with Him.
History of the Church
The Church referred to in Holy Scripture as “The Kingdom of God” and “The Body of Christ,” was founded by Christ who is its only head and high priest. He empowered the Holy Apostles to carry it into all the world, led by the Holy Spirit (the “Holy Comforter”), which he sent to “guide you into Truth.” (St. John 16:13.) In the early years, the Church grew up around five historic Church centers, or Patriarchates, whose Bishops were honored and given “precedence” as “first among equals.” So the Church did not develop as a “monarchial” institution, but as “collegial,” The government of the Church was “Conciliar,” as evidenced by the Seven Ecumenical Councils which help to define the Faith of the Church between the years 325 and 787 A.D.
The unity of the Church was first broken by several groups that did not accept the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, and again in the eleventh century when the Patriarch of Rome attempted to exercise jurisdiction over all the Church. This led to the Great Schism, which divided the Eastern Orthodox Bishops from the Roman Catholic Church of the West. The Eastern Churches were primarily national Churches, and when their people joined the great flood of immigrants who came to America in the 19th and 20th centuries, they brought their Churches with them. This led to the multiplicity of Church names in America: Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, etc. They vary in cultural and ethnic traditions, but all hold to the faith of the Seven Great Councils.
The History and Development of the Christ Catholic Church
A timeline from the 18th century to the present day
Information is taken from the “Christ Catholic Church (Diocese of Boston)” printed by the St. Willibrord’s Press of Goffstown, N.H.
Since the 18th century, a growing number of Catholic Churches have separated from the Vatican. The first of these non-Papal churches developed in the Netherlands when the Dutch Catholics extended sympathy and hospitality to French Catholics denied religious liberty in France. Catholics have always held that under Christ, one finds perfect freedom. Rather than disavow their historic principles, certain Dutch Churches, under the leadership of the Archiepiscopal See of Utrecht, have maintained a separate existence from Rome since the 18th century. The following is a timeline of changes that have occurred since this first separation.
1870: The First Vatican Council proclaims the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. Since only Christ is infallible, many churches in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland separate from Rome and take the name of Old Catholic. Since these churches hold the same faith as the churches of Utrecht and are without a bishop, they come into the union under the leadership of the Archbishop of Utrecht.
1900 (approx.): In the United States, similar churches are established among Belgium immigrants under the leadership of Bishop Villatte, who was consecrated by a bishop of the ancient Mar Thomas Church in India. Other non-papal churches spring up among the Poles, Ukrainians, Greeks and Native Americans. Their orders come from various Orthodox and Old Catholic Churches.
1937: A number of independent Catholic and Orthodox Churches incorporate into the Polish Old Catholic Church. They elect Father Joseph Zielonka as their first bishop. Although they stretch as far as Tampa, Florida, most of these churches are in New Jersey, in such places as New Brunswick, South River, Dover, and Dunellen.
In 1959, a group of Polish Orthodox Catholics in the Eastern United States changed their name to Christ Catholic Church to lift barriers and to make all nationalities feel welcome. The Church grew rapidly, and in 1967, the Rev. Father Karl Pruter was elected and consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Boston.
Present day: The orders of the Christ Catholic Church are regarded as valid by the Vatican and by other Catholic and Orthodox communions. The Church has been unaffected by recent fads in theology, and while its outlook is definitely liberal, it continues to maintain the historic Catholic faith and order. The Church is an ideal home for those who want the historic faith and liturgy, in fellowship that allows the widest personal liberty consistent with good order.
The Constitution and Canons establishing Christ Catholic Church as an independent and autocephalous (self-governing) jurisdiction were approved the following year. The consecrators of Bishop Karl were Archbishops Peter Zurawetzky and Uladyslau Ryzi-Riski. These Bishops held valid apostolic orders stemming from Russian and Greek Orthodox jurisdictions.
Although still a small communion, Christ Catholic Church has experienced steady growth. It has been very attractive to many Christians unhappy with modern aberrations in faith and practice, and who long for the traditional, Apostolic Faith. Because its heritage is from the undivided Church, Christ Catholic Church considers itself to be Orthodox-Catholic. The hyphen is used to differentiate this communion from other Churches which may use one or both terms in their names.
The Faith and the Church are inseparable. But Christ Catholic Church does not believe a Church should be judged by the beauty of its edifices and the weight of its bricks and mortar. The Church is, first of all, a family, a support group in which each member must help other Christians work toward that perfection which our Lord set as a goal for our lives in his Sermon on the Mount. Therefore, the Church approves and blesses small groups of Christians working together, and often worshiping together at an altar in a private home.
The Meaning of Orthodox The word Orthodox as used by the Church is very ancient and has two meanings which are closely related.
- The first definition is true belief. Christ Catholic Church maintains and teaches the Faith of the Holy Scriptures and of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils as accepted by the undivided Church. It rejects the additions to that Faith which have occurred in both the East and the West and the distortions of separatists who seek to interpret Holy Scripture without reference to the Faith and traditions of the undivided Church.
- The second definition is true worship. Holy Scripture tells us that the three thousand who were added to the Church on that first Day of Pentecost “continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers and great and mighty signs by the Apostles.” (Acts 2:42)
Worship is the life of the Church, and its central act of worship is the Divine Liturgy, established at the Last Supper by our Lord himself. Christ Catholic Church believes that the ancient Liturgies which developed in the richness of Faith expressed by the Seven Great Councils represent true forms of worship, and that modern variation too often water down or obscure the spirituality which is our true heritage from the Apostolic Church.
The Meaning of Catholic
The word Catholic may be found in the writings of the Fathers of the Church in the second century, and is embodied in the Nicene Creed, which acknowledges: “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Catholic means that the Church is universal, that she includes persons of all races and cultures, and that she has preserved the fullness of the Christian Faith.
What about today?
It was recently voted by the majority of the Bishops and Clergy of Christ Catholic Church to merge with RRCAC or the Reformed Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. Due to the lack of consensual unity and many concerns, several bishops have remained true to the History of Christ Catholic Church International
Those Bishops have gathered to maintain what remains of that historical vision of Christ Catholic Church and form a new synod with a new name and vision:
Caritas Catholic Church International
(Caritas being the Latin word for Agape or God’s love.)
The following scripture passages are considered by many to be creeds or declarations of faith. These are taken from both Lieth’s Schaff’s books.
Deut. 6:4: Hear O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD alone.
1 Kings. 18:39: And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.”
Matt. 16:16: Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Matt. 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
John 1:49: Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
John 6:68-69: Simon Peter answered him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 20:28: Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Acts 8:36-37: And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Acts 16:31: And they said, “Belief in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
1 Cor. 8:6: Yet for us, there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through who are all things and through whom we exist.
1 Cor. 12:3: Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor. 15:3-7: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
Phil. 2:6-11: who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1 Tim. 3:16: Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Heb. 6:1-2: Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
1 John 4:2: By this, you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.
There are also several early summaries of the Christian faith which predate the creeds, such as the “Rule of Faith” as recorded by Irenaeus:
“… this faith: in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven and the earth and the seas and all the things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who made known through the prophets the plan of salvation, and the coming, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and his future appearing from heaven in the glory of the Father to sum up all things and to raise anew all flesh of the whole human race …”
And Hippolytus’ account of the baptismal service:
“When the person being baptized goes down into the water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say: ‘Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?’ And the person being baptized shall say: ‘I believe.’ Then holding his hand on his head, he shall baptize him once.
“And then he shall say: ‘Do you believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the living and the dead?’
“And when he says: ‘I believe,’ he is baptized again. And again he shall say: ‘Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy church, and the resurrection of the body?’ The person being baptized shall say: ‘I believe,’ and then he is baptized a third time.”
– Hippolytus, early third century
Both the “Rule” as recorded by Irenaeus and the baptismal service as recorded by Hippolytus bear very close similarities to the Apostles’ Creed.