Frequently Asked Questions:
Frequently Asked Questions about the Old Catholic Church and Spirit of Hope
Independent Catholic Community


What is the Independent/Old Catholic Church?

The Independent/Old Catholic Church has its roots in the Catholic Church of the
Netherlands where in 1145, Pope Eugene III granted the diocese of Utrecht the
right to elect and consecrate its own Bishops and clergy.  That right was
reconfirmed by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 and again by Pope Leo X in
1520.  The Old Catholic Church reiterated its right at the First Vatican Council in
1870, because a good number of the Bishops did not agree with the Roman
dogmatic declaration of Papal infallibility. It was at this time that the Roman Catholic
Church invoked obedience to Papal Authority and officially replaced all those Bishops
who would not agree to the Dogmatic Declaration of Papal Infallibility.

Why haven’t we heard of it before?

The Old Catholic movement has been quietly developing and growing for many
years.  Sometimes the Roman Catholic Church leadership is quite threatened by the
rise of an expression of our Catholic faith outside of their own definition.  Thus, the
Old Catholic movement has often kept their communities intentionally small in order
to meet the pastoral needs of their members and live out their faith without inviting
conflict with the much larger Roman Catholic leadership.  

Does the Old Catholic Church celebrate all seven sacraments?

Yes.  We celebrate all seven sacraments.  We, in fact, utilize for the most part, the
very same rituals as does the Roman Catholic Church.  Spirit of Hope wishes to be a
community which is sensitive to the needs, wants and desires of all who request
any of the Sacraments.  

Does the Roman Catholic Church recognize the Sacraments of the
Independent/Old Catholic Church?

Yes.  The Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church states: “The
sacraments of baptism, confirmation and orders cannot be repeated since they
imprint a character.” #845  The Sacrament of Marriage is also recognized, as it is of
all other faith traditions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Spirit of Hope Catholic Community

When  we celebrated our first Mass as a community?  

Fr.  Marty Shanahan’s ordination to the Priesthood took place January 19th, 2008
and he began his Pastoral duties at Spirit of Hope on January 26th, 2008. Our first
mass as a community was celebrated that day.  Come and join us!

Does the Roman Catholic Church Consider the Sacraments of Old Catholics as

When members of the Roman Catholic Church encounter Old Catholic Churches for
the first time, they are often surprised to learn that Catholic denominations exist
apart from Rome. Understandably, questions are raised about the validity of Orders
and Sacraments administered by Old Catholics.
We hope the following information will be helpful. If you have additional questions,
please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dominus Iesus

At the Vatican on 16 June 2000, Pope John Paul II ratified and ordered the
publication of Dominus Iesus. This Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith was signed and published by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope
Benedict XVI) in August of the same year.
In this Declaration, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orders and
Sacraments of Old Catholic denominations:
"The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the [Roman]
Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by
apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches."
"Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such ... have by no
means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For
the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which
derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the
Catholic Church." IV. Unicity and Unity of the Church, 17

Other Citations
Catholic Almanac - 1974
"The Roman Church recognizes the validity of Old Catholic Orders and other
Sacraments." (Felician A. Roy, OFM, p. 368)

The Pastoral Companion – A Canon Law Handbook for Catholic Ministry – Third
Edition by John M. Huels,J.C.D. page 335
“The principal condition is that these sacraments can be received only from validly
ordained ministers. These are ministers who belong to “churches that have
preserved the substance of the Eucharistic teaching, the sacraments of orders, and
apostolic succession” This would include all Eastern non - Catholic churches, the
Polish National Church, Old Catholic, and Old Roman Catholic.

Separated Brethren
"We have no reason to doubt that the Old Catholic Orders are valid. The Apostolic
Succession does not depend on obedience to the See of Peter, but rather on the
objective line of succession from Apostolic sources, the proper matter and form, and
the proper intention ... likewise Old Catholic bishops are bishops in Apostolic
Succession ... The Old Catholics, like the Orthodox, possess a valid priesthood."
(William J. Whalan, pp. 204,248)

Rights and Responsibilities: A Catholic's Guide to the New Code of Canon Law
"When a Catholic sacred minister is unavailable and there is urgent spiritual
necessity, Catholics may receive the Eucharist, penance, or anointing from sacred
ministers of non-Catholic denominations whose Holy Orders are considered valid by
the Catholic Church. This includes all Eastern Orthodox priests, as well as priests of
the Old Catholic or Polish National Church." (Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., p. 44)

Are my contributions to Spirit of Hope Catholic Community tax deductible?
Yes. we a registered and recognized 501c3 tax exempt religious corporation.  Every
congregation is self supporting and transparent, thus the books and records will be
open to anyone requesting to view them, within the confines of the laws of privacy.  
The local Synod leadership of the community will be fully informed of all income and
expenses on a regular basis.  The records will be securely kept at the office and a
back up electronic copy, made monthly.         

If a priest leaves or retires from a community like Spirit of Hope how does a
new pastor get assigned?
Since Spirit of Hope is an independent community, fostering of vocations is
considered to be the responsibility of the community.  Spirit of Hope will first need to
establish good sound relationships with other Independent/Old Catholic         
Communities here in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Second, after the
community is established, approach our local Ecumenical Seminary and         
investigate the possibility of a “pastoral internship” in which we might attract a
potential future Pastor.

How are decisions made?   
The community operates on the basis of collaboration and collegiality.  The primary
responsibility of the Pastor is in the area of liturgy and the sacramental life of the
community.   A  Synod, which is a small leadership group of normally 5 people from
the community, will make decisions regarding the life of the community outside of
the liturgy and sacraments.  The Pastor is a member of the Synod.  The aim and
goal is to be as collaborative and consultative as possible with all the community.

Can I still go to a Mass at a Roman Catholic Church?
The decision as to where one worships is up to the individual and their conscience.
As a member of a particular faith community, like Spirit of Hope, the ideal would be
that we pray, learn, and reach out in service to transform the world as a community
of faith.  Making a commitment to a community leads to personal accountability and
communal accountability as well.
Spirit of Hope Catholic Community
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