The International Liberal Catholic Church was founded in 1966 by Bishop Edmund Walter Sheehan and others who left the Liberal Catholic Church branch led by Bishop Edward M. Matthews. He had previously served as an auxiliary bishop under Bishop Charles Hampton. His disagreement with Matthews concerned administrative matters.
Sheehan linked the International Liberal Catholic Church to the Brotherhood of the Blessed Sacrament, a Dutch group which had broken with the British headquarters of the Liberal Catholic Church. The Brotherhood had originally sided with Matthews but had broken relations with him in 1962.
The International Liberal Catholic Church followed the Matthews faction in doctrinal and liturgical matters. While reporting 9 bishops, 25 clergy, and 3,000 members in 1969, the International Church dwindled to only a few parishes during the 1970s, and in the early 1980s was disbanded.
Independent Catholic Church International The Independent Catholic Church International was formed in 1981 as both a new jurisdiction out of the Anglican heritage and an ecumenical body which related a variety of independent episcopal bodies, some out of the theosophical Liberal Catholic tradition. The first primate was Peter Wayne Goodrich.
Goodrich resigned in 1983 and was succeeded by R. V. Bernard Dawe (b. 1925), who had been consecrated in 1980 and had served as the church's international legate.
As constituted, the small jurisdiction has freely developed interchanges with a variety of Old Catholic and Anglican jurisdictions and has remained open to theosophical currents. It is a member of the Synod of Independent Sacramental Churches.
Free Liberal Catholic Church The Free Liberal Catholic Church was founded in 1975 by a group of Liberal Catholic priests including Bishops Donald M. Berry (1935- ) and John Russell (1920–1985). Bishop Berry was consecrated by Bishop William H. Daw of the Liberal Catholic Church International. Bishop Russell was consecrated by Bishop William A. Henley of the American Orthodox Catholic Church. Archbishop John Shelton Davis, vicar general at the time of the formation of the Free Liberal Catholic Church, is currently the presiding bishop. Davis was consecrated by Berry in 1979.
The Free Liberal Catholic Church follows the Liberal Catholic tradition. The Bible is accepted as the guide and rule of life by members and priests, but no one is required to subscribe to a creedal summary or to a particular formulation of faith. Freedom of inquiry is encouraged. There are seven sacraments that operate by the power of the Holy Spirit and depend for their efficacy on the clear conscience of the supplicant.
The Liberal Catholic Movement refers to those churches whose foundation traces back to the founding bishops of the Liberal Catholic Church. It is different from the Roman Catholic Church. The Liberal Catholic Movement is one of the most recognized Old Catholic groups in the United States, with an estimated total worldwide membership of 45,000.
The founding bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church was J. I. Wedgwood who was ordained as a priest in the Old Catholic movement on July 22, 1913 by Arnold Harris Mathew (whose membership in the Union of Utrecht was terminated in 1910). Thus all Liberal Catholic churches claim to trace their apostolic succession back to Rome through Old Catholicism.
The (original) General Episcopal Synod of The Liberal Catholic Church worldwide permits its clergy to believe in such Theosophical tenets as reincarnation and the ascended masters. It encourages its priests and its bishops to have a vegetarian diet and to refrain from using tobacco as well as alcohol. Significantly it also continues to require deacons, priests and bishops to be male.
The (new) GES of the Liberal Catholic Church (Dutch, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Sweden), retains the emphasis on the tenets defined by the founders of the Liberal Catholic Church, but practices the ordination of women to the Holy Orders, including the episcopate.
The Liberal Catholic Church International does not as a group require any belief in theosophical tenets, while it continues to accept them if they are the personal choice of the individual. Since 2004, the Liberal Catholic Church International opens the ordination of women to all Holy Orders up to and including bishop.
The Reformed Liberal Catholic Church began facilitating the ordination of women to all orders before other branches of the Liberal Catholic Church. It doesn't emphasize theosophy but holds that theosophy is a lens through which we can gain a deeper and broader understanding of religion. Clergy and laity are free to accept or reject this, but are expected to accept those who have differing views.
The Church of Saint Thomas Int. Ordination of women to all orders. There are no barriers to holy orders for any qualified individual. It doesn't emphasize theosophy but holds that theosophy is a lens through which we can gain a deeper and broader understanding of religion. Clergy and laity are free to accept or reject this, but are expected to accept those who have differing views. CSTI does concentrate on the teachings of the founding Bishops of the Liberal Catholic Church in the training of Clergy.
The Universal Catholic Church, like the LCCI, does not require any belief in theosophical tenets, leaving that to the individual. It practices the ordination of women to all Holy Orders, including the episcopate.
The Ascended Church of Christ (formerly called the Liberal Orthodox Church Universal) under the direction of Patriarch Didymus Judas Thomas appointed 2014, permits its clergy to believe in such Theosophical tenets as reincarnation. It promotes ascetic practices such as dietary restriction and to refrain from using tobacco as well as alcohol abuse. It allows for the ordination of women into all offices.
The Catholic Universalist Church places a special emphasis on the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation. Like the UCC, it does not require its lay faithful and clergy to believe in theosophical tenets, leaving that to the individual. It allows for the ordination of women to the episcopate, as well as members of the LGBT community.
The Old Catholic Apostolic Church allows belief in theosophical tenets to remain a matter for personal belief, while seeing them as a vital part of its history. It ordains and consecrates those seen as qualified and called, regardless of gender, sexuality, or gender identity
The term Old Catholic Church was used from the 1850s by groups which had separated from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, primarily concerned with papal authority; some of these groups, especially in the Netherlands, had already existed long before the term. These churches are not in full communion with the Holy See. Member churches of the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches (UU) are in full communion with the Anglican Communion, and some are members of the World Council of Churches.
The formation of the Old Catholic communion of Germans, Austrians and Swiss began in 1870 at a public meeting held in Nuremberg under the leadership of Ignaz von Döllinger, following the First Vatican Council. Four years later, episcopal succession was established with the consecration of an Old Catholic German bishop by a prelate of the Church of Utrecht. In line with the "Declaration of Utrecht" of 1889, adherents accept the first seven ecumenical councils and doctrine formulated before the East–West Schism of 1054, but reject communion with the pope and a number of other Catholic doctrines and practices. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church notes that since 1925 they have recognized Anglican ordinations, have had full communion with the Church of England since 1932, and have taken part in the ordination of Anglican bishops. According to the principle of ex opere operato, ordinations out of communion with Rome are still valid, and for this reason the validity of orders of Old Catholic bishops has never been formally questioned by Rome, only the ordination of female priests.
The term "Old Catholic" was first used in 1853 to describe the members of the See of Utrecht who did not recognize any infallible papal authority. Later Catholics who disagreed with the Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council (1870) were hereafter without a bishop and joined with Utrecht to form the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches (UU). Today these Old Catholic churches are found chiefly in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic. Union of Utrecht Old Catholic churches are not generally found outside of Western Europe.
Though not possessing any relationship with the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches, numerous Independent Catholic clergy in the English-speaking world mistakenly self-identify as "Old Catholic", which likely signifies that, independent of the Roman Catholic Church, they see themselves as part of the Old Catholic tradition.
The Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches (UU) is a federation of Old Catholic churches, nationally organized from 1870 schisms which rejected Roman Catholic doctrines of the First Vatican Council; its member churches are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The 1889 Declaration of Utrecht is one of three founding documents together called the Convention of Utrecht. The UU is in full communion with the Anglican Communion through the 1931 Bonn Agreement; and, with the Philippine Independent Church, the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church, and the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church through a 1965 extension of the Bonn Agreement. As of 2016, the UU includes six member churches: the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands (OKKN), the Catholic Diocese of the Old Catholics in Germany, the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, the Old Catholic Church of Austria, the Old Catholic Church of the Czech Republic, and the Polish Catholic Church in Poland.