What are Ecumenical Catholic Churches?
We are independent Catholic faith communities in that we are not under the jurisdiction of the Pope nor are we subject to the canon law or the guidelines of the Roman Catholic Church. We share common roots of the same Bishop, The Most Reverend Peter E. Hickman, also the Pastor of Saint Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Church
, located in the city of Orange, CA. Though we also share a common Catholic theology and liturgical tradition, we differ significantly in many of the disciplines and rules that govern the Roman Catholic Church. Take a look at the Distinctives
for specific details.
How is the ECC a catholic church?
We uphold our catholic tradition with respect to the following principles:
- The teachings and person of Jesus Christ
- The New Testament
- The Nicene Creed
- The Sacramental & Liturgical tradition practiced
- Apostolic Tradition and Succession affirmed
Our Communion unites authentic Catholic faith communities that stretch across the United States. We are a communion of communities which are ecumenical and catholic in that we celebrate a characteristically Catholic faith tradition that is not sectarian.
We share a common theology and liturgical tradition with the Catholic Church. Our deacons, priests and bishops participate in the same historic apostolic succession as do the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and other apostolic Churches. We share the same historical developments as Western Christianity.
We trace our modern roots to the emergence of the Old Catholic movement which began in 1870 as a response to the first Vatican Council's pronouncement of Papal Infallibility and the primacy of papal jurisdiction.
For more detailed information, see Distinctives
What does the word "ecumenical" mean?
We understand the word ecumenical, as it is expressed within our ecclesial community, in four ways:
- We recognize that the body of Christ, the Universal Church, includes all baptized Christians regardless of denominational affiliation. All those who have followed the Lord Jesus in baptism are regarded as members of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church."
- We are actively engaged in promoting Christian unity. Therefore, we seek to join together with all of our Christian brothers and sisters in the proclamation of the Gospel, in the celebration of the liturgy and the realization of the life of Christ.
- We recognize the presence of the Spirit at work throughout the world in the faith experience of people of other religions. We recognize the divine presence in every human heart, believing that all people are the beloved of God. Therefore, we seek mutual understanding and respect with those of other religions through dialogue and we seek mutual cooperation in the endeavor for peace and justice in our world.
- Webster defines it as: universal.
Does the ECC support the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood and why?
Absolutely! In the ECC, women are encouraged to respond to a genuine vocation and to participate in all levels of ministry, lay or ordained. As St. Paul writes: "there is neither jew nor greek, slave nor free, male nor female, all are one in Christ Jesus."
Pastoral Letter on Women's Ordination
What is the ECC's understanding of same-gender sexual relationships?
We are an open and affirming communion recognizing the value and dignity of every person, in our God given diversity. We promote the education and development of the People of God in their understanding of the diversity of sexual orientation among their brothers and sisters. All sexual relationships are to be guided by the Christian moral principals of love and fidelity. We uphold the ideal of committed relationships blessed by the sacred rites of the church. We believe that all questions of sexual morality are best addressed through pastoral care and counsel.
The Sacred Body
What is the ECC's understanding of clerical celibacy?
Clerical celibacy was not a requirement until 1274. In fact, it was enforced for relatively practical reasons: first to ensure that clergy would not be hindered by following a call to ministry with respect to the responsibility of a family; and second, to prevent the threat of hereditary claims placed upon church property, by the children of clergy. Again, we follow the teachings of Jesus and allow individuals to respond to God's call freely and, therefore, marriage and ordination are not mutually exclusive.
How is the ECC authentically Catholic if it is separate from the authority of the Pope?
We are practicing the original understanding of the Church which existed for the first 800 years of Christianity and still exists in the current Eastern Orthodox tradition. In this ancient understanding of Catholicism, each faith community was led by its bishop and pastoral councils. The people of each local faith community participated in the life of the Church by electing their bishops and taking an active role in the ministry of their faith tradition. The Pope was considered to be a spiritual leader, however, each community upheld the autonomy of its own life and governance. Approval from Rome was not required in the decision making process of each local church.
Old Catholic Roots
Are the sacraments offered to denominations other than catholic?
We do not withhold the sacraments from any person based solely on their denomination or faith tradition. For example, we recognize that Jesus is the host of the eucharistic celebration and therefore all are welcome to the table of the Lord!
I feel I have been called to be an ordained minister. What is the process for ordination in the ECC?
We attempt to create a nurturing path to ordination for all levels of interest. We have established guidelines for those that have just identified their calling and for those that have already been validly ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. Please contact your regional Vicar via email. Check the Region page for the For the address.
Who is the governing authority within the ECC?
The People of the ECC are the governing authority! Our constitutional document was ratified by both clergy and lay persons present at our 2003 convocation. This constitution establishes a polity structure including a House of Laity, a House of Pastors and an Episcopal Council - all possessing roles of decision-making and leadership in governing the Communion. Feel free to view our constitution