The Old Roman Catholic Church Latin Rite [ORCC LR] is a worldwide body of Christians with churches in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It is the largest of the authentic orthodox Old Roman Catholic jurisdictions and the only Communion with a global presence. The ORCC LR enjoys fellowship with the Universal Church through the International Council of Community Churches, the World Council of Churches and various other international ecumenical bodies. In 1911 the Old Roman Catholic Church was recognised as an autocephalous Church by the Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria.
The Mission of the Old Roman Catholic Church Latin Rite, is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all [things that He has] commanded” so that all people may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Old Roman Catholic Church is the continuation of the original and ancient See of Utrecht founded in 695AD when St Willibrord was consecrated Bishop for the Frisians in Rome by Pope Sergius I. In 1024 the Bishops were made “Princes” of the Holy Roman Empire and until 1122 were appointed by the Emperor. In 1145, of the five collegiate chapters in Utrecht, Blessed Pope Eugene III granted the Cathedral Chapter the perpetual right to elect the Bishop. This right was later ratified by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. In 1520, Pope Leo X in a bull “Debitum Pastoralis” granted the Clergy and faithful of the See of Utrecht immunity from external ecclesiastical prosecution. In 1559 the See was elevated to an Archdiocese with six suffragan Sees. But in 1580 when the Principality was lost by the Hapsburgs at the Reformation, the public exercise of the Catholic religion was forbidden and the church went “underground”. During this time “Apostolic Vicars” were appointed by the exiled Spanish government of the Empire but titled “Archiepiscopus Titularis” so as not to provoke the Protestant Government of the Republic. In 1691 Petrus Codde, the Apostolic Vicar was falsely accused of the Jansenist heresy by the Jesuits who wanted free-reign in the ecclesiastical territory. He was tried in Rome despite the protection of “Debitum Pastoralis” but was cleared of all charges. However, relations between the See of Utrecht and the Holy See became strained by the interference and influence of the zealous Jesuits.
After the death of Peter Codde in 1723 the Cathedral Chapter proceeded to elect a new Archbishop with approbation from the Dutch Republic but not the Holy See. The Chapter asserted their ancient right and privilege granted by Blessed Pope Eugene III, but incurred the disfavour of the growing ultramontane Papacy. In 1853, despite attempts at reconciliation, Blessed Pope Pius IX instituted a new hierarchy in Holland and the original See became known as the “Old” Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. From 1853 the Old Roman Catholic Church continued unabated to preserve the Catholic Faith as it had always been believed until in 1870 it was petitioned for episcopal oversight by disaffected Roman Catholics unable to accept the definition of Papal Infallibility introduced by the First Vatican Council. These “Old” Catholics established parishes and churches across the continent but gradually began to stray from traditional Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, influenced by the theology of “Reformation”. So it was in 1910 that the Regionary Bishop for Great Britain, Arnold Harris Mathew, was forced in order to preserve the received traditional Roman Catholic faith, to declare independence from Utrecht who were now adopting these “reformed” ideas and practices. In August 5th, 1911 under Msgr Mathew, the Old Roman Catholic Church was received into communion with the Orthodox Patriarch and Holy Synod of Antioch and the East (a precursor to the later Western Rite Antiochian Orthodox) and in 1912 with the Pope & Patriarchate of Alexandria and was formally recognised as an autocephalous jurisdiction.
The North American Old Roman Catholic Church is the original, historic and canonical Old Roman Catholic jurisdiction in the Western hemisphere. It came to the United States on November 7, 1914 when the Prince-Bishop Rudolph de Landas Berghes arrived here from Great Britain.
Bishop Berghes had been consecrated by the Old Roman Catholic Archbishop, Arnold Harris Mathew in London on June 29, 1912. He emigrated to the United States due to the political climate in Europe during the early years of the First World War. Bishop Berghes was a subject of the Austro-Hungarian empire with whom much of Europe was at war; he was related to most of the royal houses of Europe, including the Royal Family of England; and it would have been a great embarassment to the Royal Family and to the government of Great Britain, to have interned a family member of the aristocracy as a resident enemy alien. Thus with the assistance of the Royal Family, the British government, the government of the United States and the direct cooperation of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church, Bishop Berghes left England and took up residence in the United States. He settled first in New York City, later in Waukegan, Illinois, later still in Chicago, Illinois and finally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he died in 1920.
Bishop Berghes straightway began a mission of the Old Roman Catholic Church here in the USA and on October 4, 1916 consecrated as a Bishop, The Most Reverend Carmel Henry Carfora, a former Roman Catholic Franciscan Friar, to serve as his associate and colleague. Together they laid the firm foundation in the Catholic Faith, with an indisputably valid lineage of Apostolic Succession of Holy Orders, descended from Rome and currently held in common by the greater part of the Roman Catholic hierarchy throughout the world, on which The North American Old Roman Catholic Church firmly rests today. Bishop Berghes was elected as the First Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church in 1916 and served in that capacity until December 22, 1919 when he returned to the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church, entering the Augustinian Friars in Villanova, Pennsylvania where he died on November 17, 1920.
The Most Reverend Carmel Henry Carfora succeeded Archbishop Berghes, serving as the Second Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church from October 12, 1919 until his death on January 11, 1958, having held the Office of Primate for 38 years and 3 months. Archbishop Carfora presided over the Church during its greatest missionary expansion and activity, guiding the Church’s apostolic labors and growth in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, South America and even into parts of Africa and Asia. Archbishop Carfora fell asleep in the Lord on January 11, 1958 in Chicago at the age of 78, after a long and valiant battle against multiple illnesses.
On September 11th. – 12th., 1976, +Boniface was elected Metropolitan-Archbishop and Primate of the Old Roman Catholic Church Latin Rite. Since October of 1997, the See of the Diocese, also known as the “Old Roman Catholic Church In Canada”, has been in London, ON Canada. Since his time as Primate the Church has continued to grow from strength to strength into now, the largest and only global Old Roman Catholic jurisdiction.