Old Catholics - New Doctrines

The Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Utrecht says that the selection of an ex-Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Joris Vercammen, to lead the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht adds an "extra problem" to relations between the two churches, but that the larger difficulty is women's ordination in some Old Catholic bodies. Fr. Vercammen was ordained in the Roman Catholic Church in 1979 and became Old Catholic in 1988.

Old Catholics reject papal infallibility and certain other positions upheld by Rome, though Old Catholic Orders have been (until recently) recognised by Rome.

The 400,000 member Union of Utrecht is officially in communion with the Canterbury led Anglican Communion, with the exception of the Union's largest body, the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) in North America. The PNCC broke communion with the Anglican churches of Canada and America, as well as the Church of England in 1992, over women's ordination, and now is estranged from several European Old Catholic bodies which have moved to ordain women. The PNCC has broken communion with Old Catholic churches in Germany, Austria, Holland and Switzerland over the innovation.

The significant percentage of ex-Roman Catholics in leadership of European Old Catholic churches seem, in fact, to have catalysed the movement of these bodies to accept female ordination.

Cardinal Simonis is reported to have said that the opening of the priesthood for women in Old Catholic churches is an "insuperable problem" in the search for church unity. He was quoted as saying that the Old Catholic Church had become a protestant body and "that is very tragic".

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