2014-10-30 17:46:00

Old-Catholic Church called to healing of 'family conflict'

(Vatican Radio) Following a historic first visit to the Vatican, the leader of the Old-Catholic Bishops’ Conference, based in Utrecht, says the small world communion has a significant contribution to make to the conversation about Catholic identity, as well as to the wider ecumenical movement. At an audience with the delegation on Thursday, Pope Francis spoke of the “grave sins” on both sides which led to the break from Rome in the 18th and 19th centuries. He also urged Catholics and Old-Catholics to strengthen their desire for reconciliation in a spirit of conversion, based on mutual forgiveness and repentance.

Following that audience, Archbishop Joris Vercammen, head of the Old Catholic Church in Utrecht, talked to Philippa Hitchen about that history of division and about their goal of bringing new insights to the understanding of what it means to be part of the universal Catholic family today…


"The history of the dialogue with the Vatican started in 1966 with the openness Rome showed to this dialogue….in the year 2000 there was a breakthrough and we organised an international dialogue commission which produced a very interesting discussion on what it means to be Catholic…

We are a part of the Catholic family …but there is a family conflict…..we are really Catholic and in, the tradition of the first church, that means being churches connected to one another…..local churches, for us, are the most important cell of the universal church. Being Catholic means the free commitment of the local church to be connected to the other local churches, that’s the way we see our identity and it’s these ecclesiological insights that we are trying to contribute to Catholic ecclesiology….

It’s a historic moment because we were always seen as being against the Roman Catholic Church, but we were never against, we have suffered under the separation….but in every crisis there is a calling. We are celebrating this year 125 years of the bishops’ declaration of Utrecht…we don’t celebrate separation but we want to celebrate this calling….

Unity is not about uniformity – also within the Roman Catholic Church one becomes more and more convinced of that fact, but if you say being Catholic is accepting diversity, then you have to organise your diversity….and I think you have to organise from the bottom up....on all levels you need a primacy but you have to embed that primacy within synodality….. "

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.