Vatican Recognition of Ancient Catholicism
Vatican Support & Recognition of Ancient Catholic Denomination

Vatican City College of CardinalsAncient Catholicism is the unique and independent denomination of the Order of the Temple of Solomon (Knights Templar) from the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon.  As such, it is recognized by the Vatican by direct application of Canon law, and by one Papal Decree and three Papal Bulls issued directly to the Templar Order.

Templar Ancient Catholicism is the foundation of the 12th century Independent Church Movement, 19th century Old Catholicism and Reformed Catholicism, and early 20th century Liberal Old Catholicism.  As a result, its canonical validity and independence is further confirmed by another two Papal Decrees and two Papal Bulls recognizing the Old Catholic Movement of Independent Bishops.

In 418 AD, both Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome recognized the Ancient Priesthood as the original “true religion, which… began to be called Christian” [1], and “established anew the Ancient Faith” within Catholicism [2]. Accordingly, by the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law, the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon is incorporated into canonical Catholicism as the “common and constant opinion of learned authors” (Canon 19), and as “immemorial customs” from the origins of Christianity (Canon 26) [3].

In the 12th century, the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon was fully recognized by the Vatican as the autonomous Ancient Catholic denomination of the Knights Templar. Its ecclesiastical independence was established by the Temple Rule of 1129 AD as a Papal Decree [4], and its complete ecclesiastical sovereignty was recognized by the Papal Bull Omne Datum Optimum of 1139 AD [5], further supported by the Papal Bulls Milites Templi of 1144 AD [6] and Militia Dei of 1145 AD [7].

As a result, under the Code of Canon Law, the Order of the Temple of Solomon is a “public juridical subject of canon law” (Canon 113, §2, Canon 116, §§1-2), carrying succession of its own independent Pontifical authority from the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon (Canon 215), fully exercising its own canonical “power of jurisdiction” for its unique and original denomination of Ancient Catholicism (Canon 129, §1) [8].

Also under the Code of Canon Law, the Ancient Catholic denomination, as practiced by the Knights Templar from 1118 – 1312 AD (and thereafter), constitutes “centennial customs” (Canon 26), which cannot be revoked (Canon 28) as long as they are “reasonable” (Canon 24, §2); Canon law also guarantees freedom of liturgy and “the right to follow their own form of spiritual life” within the independent Pontifical Catholicate (Canon 214). [9]

In 1215 AD, the Vatican’s Fourth Lateran Council established the acceptance of “independent” Churches (Canon 3), specifically recognizing “ancient privileges” of “their jurisdiction” (Canon 5), and confirmed their autonomy (Canons 10-11), providing that they can independently elect and thus consecrate their own Bishops (Canon 23), thereby recognizing them as Independent Churches [10].

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, thereby recognizing and strengthening the autonomy of Independent Churches. It also recognized the independent Clergy as having its own ecclesiastical and judiciary jurisdiction, prohibiting even the Vatican from having its “cause evoked to any external tribunal, not even under pretense of any apostolic letters whatsoever; and that all such proceedings should be, ipso facto, null and void.”

The modern Roman Code of Canon Law confirms that Independent Bishops, by “consecration” with valid Apostolic lines (Canon 1009), are thereby “incardinated” in the Independent Churches (Canon 266), and thus not subject to any Pontifical authority of the Vatican, retaining autonomous Episcopal authority of ordination, and therefore constitute an independent “competent ecclesiastical authority” in their own right (Canons 114, 116, 118) [11].

In 1839 AD, the Vatican further recognized the importance of the Ancient Priesthood from Egypt as the living roots of classical Christianity, by creating the Gregorian Egyptian Museum in the Holy See of Rome in 1839 AD, which includes ancient Mesopotamian artifacts as further origins of the Egyptian Priesthood [12].

In 2000 AD, the Vatican issued the Pontifical proclamation Dominus Iesus (“Lord Jesus”), which officially recognizes the legitimacy of the Independent Church Movement including Old Catholicism, Reformed Catholicism and Liberal Old Catholicism, which are all based upon the Templar denomination of Ancient Catholicism:

“The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by Apostolic Succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. … [Those] separated Churches and communities as such… have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church.” [13]

Catholic scholarship directly documents that “The Roman Church recognizes the validity of Old Catholic Orders and other sacraments.” [14] Vatican scholars explain that “The principal condition is that these sacraments can be received only from validly ordained ministers… [of] Churches that have preserved the substance of the Eucharistic teaching, the sacraments of orders, and Apostolic Succession.” [15]

Vatican experts in Canon law specifically confirm that: “We have no reason to doubt that the Old Catholic Orders are valid. The Apostolic Succession does not depend on obedience to the See of Peter, but rather on the objective line of succession from Apostolic sources, the proper matter and form, and the proper intention… likewise Old Catholic Bishops are Bishops in Apostolic Succession… The Old Catholics, like the Orthodox, possess a valid priesthood.” [16]

Canon law authorities further confirm that “When a Catholic sacred minister is unavailable… Catholics may receive the Eucharist, penance, or anointing from sacred ministers of non-Catholic denominations whose Holy Orders are considered valid by the Catholic Church. This includes all… Priests of the Old Catholic [Church].” Reformed Catholic and Gnostic practices of direct divine communion are also included in this recognition: “The direct relationship of the individual to God is governed by a higher law, which includes the moral norms.” [17]

Therefore, Ancient Catholicism as an independent denomination is abundantly recognized by the Vatican, by Roman Canon law, three Papal Decrees and five Papal Bulls. As such, its legitimacy, validity and inherent ecclesiastical sovereignty are indisputable.

 

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] Saint Augustine, Retract I, XIII, 3 (ca. 418 AD); Eugene TeSelle, Augustine the Theologian (1970), reprinted London (2002), p.343.

[2] Saint Jerome, Epistola 195 (418 AD); Eugene TeSelle, Augustine the Theologian (1970), reprinted London (2002), p.343.

[3] The Vatican, The Code of Canon Law: Apostolic Constitution, Second Ecumenical Council (“Vatican II”), Enacted (1965), Amended and ratified by Pope John Paul II, Holy See of Rome (1983): “common and constant opinion of learned authors” (Canon 19); “immemorial customs” (Canon 26).

[4] Henri de Curzon, La Règle du Temple, La Société de L’Histoire de France, Paris (1886), in Librairie Renouard: “Disciples” of the Grand Master as a Pontiff (Rule 7); “Patriarchate of the Temple of Solomon” in subtle Old Latin phrase (Rule 8); “divine service… dressed with the crown” as ecclesiastical sovereignty (Rule 9); Grand Mastery exercising independent ecclesiastical authority (Rule 62); “servants of the Church” under Grand Master as a Pontiff (Rule 64).

[5] Pope Innocent II, Omne Datum Optimum (29 March 1139), translated in: Malcolm Barber & Keith Bate, The Templars: Selected Sources, Manchester University Press (2002), pp.59-64.

[6] Pope Celestine II, Milites Templi, “Knights of the Temple” (5 January 1144), translated in: Malcolm Barber & Keith Bate, The Templars: Selected Sources, Manchester University Press (2002), pp.8, 64-65.

[7] Pope Eugenius III, Militia Dei, “Knighthood of God” (7 April 1145), translated in: Malcolm Barber & Keith Bate, The Templars: Selected Sources, Manchester University Press (2002), pp.8, 65-66.

[8] The Vatican, The Code of Canon Law: Apostolic Constitution, Ratified by Pope John Paul II, Holy See of Rome (1983): “competent ecclesiastical authority” (Canon 114, §§1-3, Canon 115, §2, Canon 116, §1); “public juridical subject of canon law” (Canon 113, §2, Canon 116, §§1-2); Pontifical authority of denomination (Canon 215); Charter of inherent Pontifical authority of denomination (Canon 116, §2, Canon 118); “perpetual” (Canon 120, §1); “power of jurisdiction” (Canon 129, §1).

[9] The Vatican, The Code of Canon Law: Apostolic Constitution, Second Ecumenical Council (“Vatican II”), Enacted (1965), Amended and ratified by Pope John Paul II, Holy See of Rome (1983): “immemorial customs”, “centennial customs” (Canon 26); irrevocable (Canon 28) as long as “reasonable” (Canon 24, §2); “right to follow their own form of spiritual life” (Canon 214).

[10] 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).

[11] The Vatican, The Code of Canon Law: Apostolic Constitution, Ratified by Pope John Paul II, Holy See of Rome (1983): Valid Apostolic lines “conferred by the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration” (Canon 1009); “By the reception of [consecration] a person… is incardinated in the particular Church… for whose service he is ordained.” (Canon 266); Independent “competent ecclesiastical authority” (Canons 114, 116, 118).

[12] The Vatican, Gregorian Egyptian Museum, Vatican Museums Management (museivaticani.va), Statement (2003), Republished in “Sections” topic (2007): “Pope Gregory XVI had the Gregorian Egyptian Museum founded in 1839. … The Popes’ interest in Egypt was connected with the fundamental role attributed to this country by the Sacred Scripture in the History of Salvation. … The last two rooms house finds from ancient Mesopotamia and from Syria-Palestine.”

[13] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church, Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church, published by Pope John Paul II (16 June 2000), republished by Pope Benedict XVI (August 2000), Article IV, Section 17.

[14] Felician A. Foy, Catholic Almanac, 1st Edition, Our Sunday Visitor Press (1974), p.368.

[15] John M. Huels, The Pastoral Companion: A Canon Law Handbook for Catholic Ministry, 3rd Revised Updated Edition, Franciscan Press (1997), p.335.

[16] William J. Whalen, Separated Brethren: A Survey of Non-Catholic Christian Denominations, 1st Edition (1958), The Bruce Publishing Company, 4th Revised Edition (1963), pp.204, 248.

[17] Thomas P. Doyle, Rights and Responsibilities: A Catholic’s Guide to the New Code of Canon Law, Pueblo Press (1983), p.44.