above, from Rembrandt's "Return
of the Prodigal Son"
Declaration of Utrecht
Declaration of Utrecht is the founding document
of the Old Catholic churches. A translation of the profession
of faith, or declaration formulated by the Old Catholic bishops
assembled at Utrecht, September 24, 1889:
adhere faithfully to the Rule of Faith laid down by St. Vincent
of Lerins in these terms: “Id teneamus, ubique quoc
semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est; hoc est persevere in pro-prieque
catholicum.” For this reason we persevere in professing
the faith of the primitive Church, as formulated in the ecumenical
symbols and specified precisely by the unanimously accepted
decisions of the Ecumenical Councils held in the undivided Church
of the first thousand years.
therefore reject the decrees of the so-called Council of the
Vatican, which were promulgated on July 18th, 1870 concerning
the infallibility and the universal Episcopate of the Bishop
of Rome, decrees which contradict the faith of the ancient canonical
constitution by attributing to the Pope the plenitude of ecclesiastical
powers over all Dioceses and over all the faithful. By denial
of his primatial jurisdiction, we do not wish to deny the historic
primacy which several Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers of
the ancient Church have attributed to the Bishop of Rome by
recognizing him as the Primus inter pares.
also reject the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (that Mary
was preserved from the stain of original sin), which was promulgated
by Pius IX in 1854 in defiance of Holy Scripture and in contradiction
to the tradition of the first centuries.
for other Encyclicals published by the Bishops of Rome in recent
times; for example, the Bulls Unigenitus and Auctorem
fidi, and the Syllabus of 1864, we reject them on all such
points as are in the contradiction of the doctrine of the primitive
Church, and we do not recognize them as binding on the conscience
of the faithful. We also renew ancient protest of the Catholic
Church of Holland against the errors of the Rome Curia, and
against its attacks upon the rights of national Churches.
refuse to accept the decrees of the Council of Trent in matters
of discipline, and as for the dogmatic decisions of that Council,
accept them only as far as they are in harmony with the teachings
of the primitive Church.
that the Holy Eucharist has always been the true central point
of Catholic worship, we consider it our duty to declare that
we maintain with perfect fidelity the ancient Catholic doctrine
concerning the Sacrament of the Altar, by believing the we receive
the Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ under the species
of bread and wine. The Eucharistic celebration in the church
is neither a continual repetition nor a renewal of the expiatory
sacrifice which Jesus offered once and for all upon the Cross,
and it is the act by which we represent upon the earth and appropriate
to ourselves the one offering which Jesus Christ makes in Heaven,
according to the Epistle to the Hebrews 9:11-12, for the salvation
of redeemed humanity, by appearing for us in the presence of
God (Heb. 9:24).
hope that Catholic theologians, in maintaining the faith of
the undivided Church, will succeed in establishing an agreement
upon all such questions as caused controversy ever since the
Churches became divided. We exhort the priests under our jurisdiction
to teach, both by preaching and by instruction of the young,
especially the essential Christian truths professed by all Christian
confessions, to avoid discussing controversial doctrines, any
violation of truth or charity, and in word and deed to set an
example to members of our churches in accordance with the spirit
of Jesus Christ our Savior.
By maintaining and professing faithfully the doctrine of Jesus
Christ, by refusing to admit those errors which by the fault
of men have crept into the Catholic Church, by laying aside
the abuses in ecclesiastical matters, together with the worldly
tendencies of hierarchy, we believe that we shall be able to
combat efficaciously the great evils of our day, which are unbelief
and indifference in matters of religion.