For the first 1000 years of Christianity, there was, for the most part, one unified Church, though there were numerous individuals promoting division. In 1054, a major break in communion involving a major portion of the Church occurred. The Eastern part of the Church, (the Eastern Orthodox) and the Western part (the Roman Catholics), severed communion with each other through mutual ex-communications.
Division within the Western Church continued during the 16th century as various Reformers protested what was seen as Roman Catholic abuses and established several Protestant denominations on the European continent and the Anglican Church in England, known as The Episcopal Church, in the USA. These churches all left the communion of the Catholic Church, which from then on was commonly called the Roman Catholic Church.
By rejecting the concept of priesthood that offers sacrifice (the Mass) and by changing their ordination rites to institutionalize this rejection of a sacrificial priesthood, these denominations lost the historic episcopate, and, in so doing, lost the Real Presence of Christ in their Eucharist, which comes about through the ministry of that same priesthood they had rejected.
This is how the Roman Catholic and National Catholic Churches view the history of Christianity’s sad divisions. There are many factors that brought about these divisions, both, theologically, politically and even personal (Henry VIII’s serial marriages), but because all of them involved the rejection of the authority of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, independence from the Papal authority is something all these denominations have in common.
Into this general picture of independence from Papal authority came the Independent Catholic Movement, though with very important differences. While “Independent Catholicism” is widely known today, it plays an important role in the history of Catholicism.
The Independent Catholic Movement differs from the various Protestant divisions. National Catholicism kept its belief in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass and in its priesthood. To ensure this, Independent Catholicism kept the Roman Catholic traditions and retained the same liturgical rites. Thus it has never lost the historic episcopate, which has maintained a validly ordained priesthood.
For this reason, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, Independent Catholicism is seen as “separated” from Rome, but maintaining Valid Sacraments, rather than separated and theologically defective like Protestant denominations who are considered “our separated brethren”.
Independent Catholicism originates from one of two historical sources.
One of the older movements began in Europe at the conclusion of the First Vatican Council in 1869.
The chief concern of this Vatican Council was the promulgation of Papal Infallibility, a concept, and doctrine which was strongly objected to by some bishops who saw it as over-reaching the traditional concept of the Pope as the “First” among equals of the College of Bishops and separating himself too independently from consultation with them. In reaction, some German theologians left the Roman Catholic Church and established a Catholic Church apart from Rome. They differentiated themselves by keeping their doctrine to the “old practices” before the Vatican Council, hence they are known as “Old Catholics”. Today, in the United States, the largest successor to this movement is found in the Polish National Catholic Church, founded in 1898 as a federation of Polish parishes independent of the Roman Catholic Church, obtaining its valid Orders also through the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht. This church has recently reached an accord with the Roman Catholic Church allowing for an open Communion between the two churches.
The second source of National Catholicism comes from the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil.
At the conclusion of the Second World War, Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa, a Roman Catholic Bishop voiced his disapproval of many practices of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil and did so very strongly, which led to his being excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. He then established on July 6, 1945, a National Church called “Igreja Catolica Apostolica do Brasil” (Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil). This church movement has spread to several countries and came to the United States in 1947, two years after its foundation in Brazil.
From coast to coast, the National Catholic movement continues to grow and spread, bringing Christ to many, who had given up the hope of Catholic reforms or even their Catholicism altogether.
This Church differs from the Roman Catholic Church in some of its disciplines but maintains all authentic Catholic theology and doctrine as it existed prior to the First Vatican Council.
Differences in the discipline are as follows.
* Care of the poor.
*The secular clergy are allowed to marry.
*The divorced are allowed to receive the Sacraments.
* Divorced people are allowed to re-marry.
These are just a few of the practices.
One of Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa’s first reforms was the translation of the Mass from Latin into the native language of the people. The Roman Catholic Church codified the same change, nearly 30 years later. Perhaps, over time, Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa’s other disciplinary changes may be adopted by Rome as well. In the meantime, this Church remains a glowing torch of hope for Catholics in need of acceptance and understanding.
Beliefs and History
One Roman Catholic Bishop of Brazil, the Most Reverend Carlos Duarte Costa, formerly the Bishop of the Diocese of Botucatu, (Botucatu is in the southeastern region of Brazil and is located 224.8 km from São Paulo, the Capital of the State of São Paulo) had a vision of change for the Church.
Largely unknown to contemporary Catholics, Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa was considered a rebel by the Vatican and a saint by the countless thousands served by his ministry. An advocate for the poor, he criticized the political leanings of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil. The Church, in Carlos Duarte Costa’s view, enjoyed a position of favor with the wealthy government; a government under which the privileged thrived while the countless poor were starving in the streets.
Dom Carlos Duarte Costa was critical of the Vatican’s policy of silence during World War II (little did he know, that so-called “silence” would save thousands of Jews from the Nazis). Dom Carlos Duarte Costa championed the abolition of celibacy and called for a "National Catholic Church", independent of Rome. On July 7, 1995, in Rio de Janeiro, Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa’s successors celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the founding of the National Catholic Church Movement.
Multitudes of mainstream Catholics, because of divorce and re-marriage or the practice of artificial birth control, feel unwelcome in the Roman Catholic Church. We welcome all who seek a sincere relationship with God through the Sacraments of the Church.
The National Catholic Apostolic Church in the United States is rooted in the Tradition, beliefs, and worship of the Roman Catholic Church with some minor changes. Our priests are ordained by Catholic Bishops whose lineage is of the Holy Roman (Catholic) Church and thus to the Apostles in an unbroken Apostolic Succession.
The Most Reverend Michel Joseph Pugin, O.S.B. is the founder and Primate of NCACUS along with the Reverend Father Kenneth C. Rosato(at that time) now Bishop, is the co-founder of the National Catholic Apostolic Church in the United States (non-Roman). The Church is also known by its acronym “NCACUS”, founded in 2003.
Similarities and Differences
*We are connected to the Roman Catholic Church through the episcopacy and our common Faith as professed in the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasius Creed. The following compares the practice of the Faith embraced by NCACUS with the current practices of Catholic Tradition.
*Like the Holy Roman (Catholic) Church, we celebrate as part of Tradition, for example, the Dogmas of the Immaculate Conception(conceived without sin) and the Glorious Assumption of Mary (Holy Dormition).
*All Sacraments celebrated by NCACUS are considered VALID by the Holy Roman (Catholic) Church.
*We recognize clerical celibacy as a special gift that enhances the ministry of those who freely choose it and which bears a powerful witness to the glorious reign of God.
*We regret the tragedy of divorce, but in light of the Gospels, we do not believe the exclusion of remarried Catholics from the sacraments is consistent with the spirit of Christ.
*We allow divorced Catholics to re-marry before a priest and live out their marriage in full communion with the Church.
*We see Baptism as the sacrament of initiation which makes all of the other sacraments available.
*We hold to the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas which states "we must follow our own conscience".
In the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, we read:
The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but who … have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter. For there are many who hold sacred scripture in honor as a rule of faith and of life, who have a sincere religious zeal, who lovingly believe in God, the Father Almighty, and in Christ, the Son of God the Savior, who is sealed by baptism which unites them to Christ, and who indeed recognize and receive other sacraments in their Churches or ecclesiastical communities".
*Many of them do not possess valid episcopacy, celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and/or cultivate devotion to the Virgin Mother of God.
We pray that you will find a home with us. May you find peace in your life’s journey.