Ancient Catholic Origins of Old Catholicism
Medieval Templar Foundations of the Old Catholic Movement

The historical record proves that the independent classical denomination of 1st century Ancient Catholicism, as preserved by the Knights Templar, constitutes the original source and foundations of the 12th century Independent Church Movement, the derivative 19th century Old Catholic Movement and Reformed Catholic Movement, and the resulting early 20th century Liberal Catholic Movement:

Only 6 years after the Vatican grant of ecclesiastical sovereignty to the Order of the Temple of Solomon, in the Papal Bull Omne Datum Optimum of 1139 AD, the Templar denomination of Ancient Catholicism (which the Knights Templar recovered from the historical Temple of Solomon) served as the precedent and basis for creation of the 12th century Independent Church Movement:

'Mariakerk' (Saint Mary's Church) in Utrecht, painting (1662 AD) by Pieter Jansz Saenredam, in Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (Detail)

‘Mariakerk’ (Saint Mary’s Church) in Utrecht, painting (1662 AD) by Pieter Jansz Saenredam, in Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (Detail)

In 1145 AD, Pope Eugene III granted autonomy as a “cathedral chapter” to Bishops in Utrecht, Netherlands, which marked the formal beginning of the “Independent Church Movement”.

Pope Eugene III was the first Cistercian to become Pope, who trained at the Cistercian Monastery at Clairvaux, and was loyal to his close friend and mentor Bernard de Clairvaux [1] [2], the patron Saint of the Templar Order. The Templar Order was founded specifically as a mission for the Cistercian Order of Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, to recover the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon as the earliest foundations of Catholicism [3].

These facts prove that the Independent Church Movement was established as part of the original 12th century founding strategies for the Templar Order, and was intended to include the recognized denomination of Ancient Catholicism of the Knights Templar.

In 1215 AD, the Vatican’s Fourth Lateran Council established the acceptance of “independent” Churches (Canon 3), recognizing “their jurisdiction” (Canon 5), and confirming the autonomy of “cathedral churches” (Canons 10-11) to independently create their own Bishops (Canon 23), thereby recognizing them as Independent Churches [4].

In 1520 AD, Pope Leo X issued the Papal Bull Debitum Pastoralis (“Pastoral Duty”), which confirmed the right of Independent Bishops to perform Episcopal consecrations without a Papal mandate, and making the independent Clergy immune from Vatican judiciary jurisdiction, thereby upgrading the ecclesiastical independence of Utrecht. This grant was obtained by Philip of Burgundy, the Bishop of Utrecht, who was a Teutonic Knight (knighted in 1491 AD) and thus a leader of cultural Templarism [5].

Throughout this period of development of the Independent Church Movement (1145-1520 AD), Utrecht was a sovereign possession of the Teutonic Order under its Prince Grand Masters (for approximately 114 years from ca. 1466 AD until 1580 AD) [6]. The Teutonic Order was essentially a branch of the Knights Templar, founded in the Templar stronghold of Acre in 1190 AD [7] (under sovereignty of the Templar Principality of Antioch for 61 years from 1129 AD).

These facts prove that the Independent Church Movement was established by autonomous leaders of cultural Templarism, and is an authentic part of Templar heritage, and also evidence that it was intended to include the classical denomination of Ancient Catholicism as preserved by the Knights Templar.

In 1870 AD, the Independent Church Movement became the foundation of the “Old Catholic Movement”, when an estimated 50% of all practicing Catholics, led by the Independent Bishops of cultural Templarism, split from the Vatican Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church:

The Old Catholic Movement began primarily in opposition to the Vatican Council’s declaration of the new dogma of “Papal infallibility” in 1870 AD [8]. The dissenting minority consisted of 20% of Bishops, although they were Bishops of strategic influence in key countries, such that they represented a following which averages 50% of all practicing Roman Catholics [9]. As a result, the Old Catholic Movement was directly led and founded by an estimated 10% of Vatican Bishops, meaning that half of dissenting Bishops actually split to branch into Old Catholicism [10], taking with them half of the Catholic Faithful worldwide.

In 1871 AD, the Old Catholic Congress declared “Adherence to the Ancient Catholic faith… [and] the constitution [substance] of the Ancient Church”, with “rejection of the new dogmas”, as “preparation of the way for the reunion of the Christian confessions.” [11]

In 1879 AD, the “Reformed Catholic Movement” was established by the Irish Roman Catholic Bishop James O’Connor (1823-1890 AD), together with a group of Clergy who left the Vatican to be Independent Bishops. The Reformed movement was founded as embodying traditional Catholic practices, characterized by some Protestant and Evangelical doctrines of direct communion through the Holy Spirit [12].

In 1889 AD, the Declaration of Utrecht, by the Independent Bishops of the Old Catholic Movement, continued only the older version of classical Catholic doctrines as they were before 1054 AD (prior to the First Vatican Council), such that this derivative movement became popularly known as “Old Catholicism”.

The Declaration preserves “the primitive Church” of early 1st century Christianity as “the undivided Church of the first thousand years” (Article 1), and continues “the doctrine of the primitive Church” (Article 4), “in harmony with the teaching of the primitive Church” (Article 5), thereby “maintaining the faith of the undivided Church… especially the essential Christian truths professed by all the Christian confessions [denominations]” (Article 7) as “the doctrine of Jesus Christ” (Article 8).

The Declaration of Utrecht actually does not use the phrase “Old Catholic”. Rather, it specifically recognizes the “historical primacy… of the Ancient Church” (Article 2) and “Ancient Catholic doctrine” (Article 6). [13]

The 19th century “Old Catholic Movement” has its original founding roots in the 12th century Independent Church Movement driven by the Templar denomination of Ancient Catholicism; Its Congress adopted the “Ancient Catholic faith” of the “Ancient Church”; Its Declaration specifically refers to the “Ancient Church” as “Ancient Catholic”. For these compelling reasons, many scholars alternately (and interchangeably) refer to this derivative movement as “Ancient Catholicism”.

In 1892 AD, the original 12th century Independent Church Movement was brought to North America by the Jacobite Old Catholic Bishop Joseph Rene Vilatte.

In 1908 AD, the derivative 19th century Old Catholic Movement was brought to the United Kingdom by Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew (French Roman Catholic Priest, made Doctor of Divinity by Pope Pius IX, first Old Catholic Bishop of Great Britain).

In 1916 AD, the “Liberal Catholic Movement” was established to revive and promote the more ancient heritage within the Independent Church Movement and Old Catholic Movement. This tradition of Liberal Old Catholicism was founded by Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew, Bishop James Ingall Wedgewood (British Anglican, Sorbonne doctoral scholar), and Bishop Charles Webster Leadbeater (British Anglican Priest), based upon scholarship of esoteric Christianity from the Theosophical movement of 1875 AD, inspired by the ancient Egyptian priestly traditions and sacred wisdom underlying Christianity. Therefore, Liberal Catholicism was specifically based upon the original denomination of Ancient Catholicism as preserved by the Knights Templar. The Liberal Catholic Movement is the most widely recognized tradition within Old Catholicism [14]

As a result of all of the above facts, the Templar denomination of Ancient Catholicism is the earliest original source of, and the underlying foundations and basis for, all Independent Churches and Old Catholic Churches. For this reason, the Ancient Catholic Church from 1139 AD is historically and canonically the only Pontifical Catholicate which unifies and represents the Independent Church Movement from 1145 AD, the derivative Old Catholic Movement from 1870 AD, the related Reformed Catholic Movement of 1879 AD, and the resulting Liberal Catholic Movement from 1916 AD.

The apparent paradox of a Pontifical authority for “Independent” Churches is resolved by the original and authentic principles of doctrinal freedom, liturgical freedom, and autonomy for all of its member Churches. This allows the Ancient Catholic Church to serve as an international presence advancing the collective interests for the benefit of all its Churches in communion with the canonical Pontificate.

 

Suggested Topics Related to this Information

Click to learn about the Ancient Catholic Church as a Pontifical institution.

Click for details about Membership & Participation in the Ancient Catholic Church.

Click for details of the Apostolic Succession Lines within Ancient Catholicism.

Academic Source References

 

[1] Michael Horn, Studien zur Geschichte Papst Eugens III (1145-1153), Peter Lang Verlag (1992), pp.36-40, pp.42-45.

[2] Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, On Consideration, Letter to Pope Eugene III, Translated in: George Lewis, Saint Bernard: On Consideration, Oxford Library of Translations, Clarendon Press, Oxford (1908).

[3] Michael Lamy, Les Templiers: Ces Grand Seigneurs aux Blancs Manteaux, Auberon (1994), Bordeaux (1997), p.28.

[4] The Vatican, The Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), Translation in: H.J. Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils, B. Herder, Saint Louis (1937), pp.236-296: “The same law is to be observed in regard to those who have no chief rulers, that is, are independent.” (Canon 3); “Renewing the ancient privileges of the patriarchal sees… In all provinces subject to their jurisdiction appeals may be taken to them when necessary” (Canon 5); autonomous “cathedral churches” (Canons 10-11); “cathedral churches” independently elect their own Bishops (Canon 23).

[5] Louis Sicking, Zeemacht en Onmacht: Maritieme Politiek in de Nederlanden 1488-1558, De Bataafse Leeuw, Amsterdam (1998).

[6] The Vatican, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912), The Encyclopedia Press, New York (1913), Volume 14, “Teutonic Order”, p.542.

[7] The Vatican, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912), The Encyclopedia Press, New York (1913), Volume 14, “Teutonic Order”, p.541.

[8] The Vatican, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912), The Encyclopedia Press, New York (1913), Volume 15, “Vatican Council: Acceptance of the Decrees”, p.307.

[9] The Vatican, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912), The Encyclopedia Press, New York (1913), Volume 15, “Vatican Council”, p.305: Part II, “Proceedings of the Council”, Section 2, “The Parties”: “the minority, comprising about one-fifth [20%]… feared the worst… many wavering Catholics, an increased estrangement of those separated from the Church”; the list of dissenting countries indicates this “minority” represented an average of 50% of all practicing Roman Catholics.

[10] Richard P. McBrien, The Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Harper Collins (1995), p.1297.

[11] The Vatican, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911), The Encyclopedia Press, New York (1913), Volume 11, “Old Catholics”, p.235: “Adherence to the Ancient Catholic faith… of the Ancient Church”.

[12] Rev. Philip Schaff (Editor), New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 3rd Edition, Funk and Wagnalls Publishers, London (1914), Volume 9, “Reformed Catholics”; H.K. Carroll, Religious Forces of the United States, New York (1896), pp.82-83.

[13] Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches, The Declaration of Utrecht (24 September 1889), Translated in: Paul Halsall, Modern History Sourcebook, Fordham University, New York (1999): Continuing the 1st century “primitive Church” as the original “undivided Church” (Articles 1, 4, 5, 7, 8); Recognizing the “historical primacy… of the Ancient Church” (Article 2) and “Ancient Catholic doctrine” (Article 6).

[14] William J. Whalen, Separated Brethren: A Survey of Protestant, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Other Denominations in the United States, 3rd Revised Edition, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. (1979),p.153.