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CNAOCB Meeting
May 8,9,10 at the Romero Center
Camden NJ


2nd meeting Conference of North American Old Catholic Bishops November 7, 2006, Cathedral Center of Saint Paul, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles



The Cathedral Center of Saint Paul


The Main Altar

Summary of Meetings of The Conference of North American Old Catholic Bishops

With the PNCC no longer a member of the Union of Utrecht, the Union's International Bishops Conference asked the Episcopal Church, its ecumenical partner in the United States, to initiate discussions among various Old Catholics concerning how they identify as Old Catholics, the ecclesiology of various Old Catholic bodies, and whether these various churches ordain women. The Episcopal Church, after having gathered this information, reported to the IBC, the summary of the various experiences of those Old Catholic churches that responded. The report was given at the annual meeting of the IBC in August 2005. The IBC asked the Episcopal Church to host a consultation of these American bishops.

In May 2006, four American Old Catholic bishops gathered at the Bethsaida Spirituality Center in Queens Village, New York. Along with these four bishops, also in attendance was the liaison of the Episcopal Church to the IBC, Bishop Miche Klusmeyer, the deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations, Dr. Tom Ferguson, and Fr. Bjorn Marcussen, an Episcopal priest who had been ordained in the Old Catholic Church of Austria and who is an Old Catholic theologian. The IBC sent as a representative to this consulation, Fr. Gunther Esser, Director of Old Catholic Studies at the University of Bonn, Germany. Key to the discussions was the ecclesiology of the Old Catholic Church, highlighted in the Preamble to the Statutes of the International Bishops Conference. After three days of discussions, the American bishops agreed to the formation of the Conference of North American Old Catholic Bishops, agreeing to pattern itself after the IBC. The CNAOCB has as its central goal the tangible, organic unity among American Old Catholic jurisdictions. The bishops also agreed to meet at least twice a year.

In November 2006, the two bishops who remained engaged to the development and formation of the CNAOCB, met in Los Angeles, to develop the Conference's Unity Statement, to fashion its rules of order, and to set forth the criteria for joining the Conference itself. The Unity Statement, which incorported the ecclesiological understanding of the Union of Utrecht and which all new members must subscribe to, states:

Assembled at St. Paul's Cathedral Center in Los Angeles, California, on the seventh day of November, 2006, we commit ourselves to these goals:

1. To place Jesus Christ as the head and center of this Conference of Bishops.

2. To conform to the gospel of Jesus and his call to serve God and to serve our neighbor.

3. To call upon the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to bless, sanctify and guide this Conference.

4. To form this Conference of Bishops as an office, a voice and a center of Old Catholicism in the USA.

5. To model our Conference on the International Conference of Bishops (IBC) of the Union of Utrecht, as outlined in the Preamble of the Statutes of the International Bishops Conference of the Union of Utrecht.

6. To work collegially and cooperatively to form one National Old Catholic Church or a Communion or a Federation of American Old Catholic Churches.

7. To study and discuss Old Catholic documents and history, in order to determine how these documents are to promote the work toward unity.

8. To indicate those elements which identify our churches as Old Catholic.

9. To pray and work for unity among the bishops and the churches we represent.

10. To convene at least two face-to-face meetings each year for consultations on subjects of common interest.

We commit ourselves to these understandings:

1. In order to begin, nurture and perfect a more complete and satisfactory union, we have formed the CNAOCB, basing our cooperation upon the tenets of the Bonn Accord of 1931 between the Old Catholic and Anglican Churches, which states:

A. Each Communion recognizes the Catholicity and independence of the other, and maintains its own.

B. Each Communion agrees to admit members of the other Communion to participate in the Sacraments.

C. Full Communion does not require from either communion the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion or liturgical practice characteristic of the other, but implies that each believes the other to hold all the essentials of the Christian faith.

2. We acknowledge and accept the Union of Utrecht's Four Ecclesiological Points, namely,

A. Ecclesiology of the Local Church: The fullness of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church resides in the local church, understood as the local diocese.

B. The Role of the Bishop and Apostolic Succession: Apostolic succession belongs to the church. Bishops are servants of the church, elected by the church, for ordained office in the church. Apostolic succession refers to the passing on of the faith of the apostles in and through the church under the leadership and oversight of the bishop of the local church, ordained for his or her office of bishop through the laying on of hands and prayer. Apostolic succession is not the personal possession of a bishop that can be passed on to others in separation from the office of bishop in the local church. There cannot be a church without a bishop; conversely there cannot be a bishop without church. Here the expression "local church" refers to a community of faith that can best be described as a diocese, which in turn consists of a communion of parishes and missions. Bishops without churches are outside of the apostolic succession, even though they may have been ordained with the proper ritual and the proper intention.

C. The Theology of Communion: Even though the fullness of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church resides in the local church, the local church cannot remain alone. The church's catholicity must express itself, which it does through communion with other local churches. The bishop of a local church stands at the intersection of where the local church meets with the other churches in communion. The bishop represents the local church to the other churches in communion, and represents the churches in communion to the local church. The bishop brings concerns of importance for the local church that may have consequences for the entire communion to the attention of the other bishops of the communion, and brings the concerns of the bishops of the communion to the attention of the local church.

D. Synodality: Synodality permeates all levels of the church. Members of the local congregation meet and make joint decisions about how to implement the mission, pastoral care and finances of the parish. It elects the pastor from qualified candidates. It elects a parish committee of lay people to govern the temporal affairs of the parish and minister side by side with the pastor. It elects representatives to the Diocesan Synod. Old Catholic dioceses are governed synodically by a synod of elected lay people and clergy. The Diocesan Synod elects the bishop. An elected Synodical Council assists the bishop in the governance of the diocese between diocesan synods.

3. We accept the Declaration of Utrecht (1889), The Munich Declaration (1871), and The Fourteen Thesis of the Old Catholic Union Conference at Bonn (1874).

4. The clergy candidates are to be educated as professionals at the university level or at the discretion of the local bishop, candidates with sufficient pastoral experience may also be ordained Whenever possible, candidates will normally attain a Master's Degree or its equivalent in theology or ministry.

5. The church is open to all the baptized. Any baptized member who is qualified may be elected to and called to holy orders with the laying on of hands for ministry in the church.

Given at Los Angeles, California, 7th of November, 2006

The signers of the Unity Statement are Bishop Charles Leigh (Apostolic Catholic Church) and Bishop Robert T. Fuentes (Old Catholic Diocese of Napa)

Although there have been various attempts at unity among Old Catholic jursidictions since the turn of the 20th century, none have had the participation or the support of either the Episcopal Church or the Union of Utrecht. Both the Episcopal Church and the Union of Utrecht agree to remain engaged with the Conference. However, the success of the CNAOCB, and the degree of unity among the American churches, rests with the American bishops, both present members and those that will join, and the churches they represent.


Formation of the Conference of North American Old Catholic Bishops - May 24, 2006 Queens Village, NY


Representatives of the Utrecht Union and Bishops of Independent Old Catholic Churches in America took place in New York.


Bps Chuck Leigh, Apostolic Catholic Church and Mike Klusmeyer Episcopal Bishop of West Virginia


Fr Bjorn Marcussen and Dr. Gunter Esser Utrecht Union, with Fr. Bernie Callahan, Apostolic Catholic Church


Fr. Bernie Callahan, Bp Chuck Leigh, Bp. Peter Paul Brennan, Ecumenical Catholic Church and Fr. Bjorn Marcussen Old Catholic Church, Utrecht


Bp. Robert Fuentes, Old Catholic Church of Napa Valley CA.


Dr. Tom Ferguson of the Episcopal Church and Fr. Bernie Callahan, Apostolic Catholic Church

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