The ORCC History

The history of the Old Roman Catholicism is the history of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church emerged into public work on the first Pentecost in Jerusalem and is built upon the Apostolic labors and the sufferings of the glorious Apostles and Martyrs. Despite formidable opposition, the Church spread rapidly in the first century and functioned under four autonomous Patriarchates: in the East at Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and in the West at Rome whence it reached out the far-flung confines of the whole empire.


The Church in the second century united and rightly organized the primitive and struggling institutions of the post-Apostolic era. The Church successfully repelled the intrusion of the schismatic irregulars and laid the foundations for that world structure of ecclesaiastical order and organization which grew and unfolded in the Patristic Age. In 312 AD, when the Emperor Constantine recognized Christianity in the Edict of Milan and persecution ceased, the Church was able to work openly and freely, and because of the preeminence of Rome at that time as the great city of the West, the Pope acquired considerable temporal power in addition to his authority.1


The union of Church and state that follwed Constantine's conversion led to many changes within the Church. The bishops were not elected by the faithful over whom they were to exercise jurisdiction, and the archiepiscopal and patriarchal sees were often filled by the favorites of ruling secular princes, not by choice of the area councils of the Church. This corruption of basic Church order and function began in the fourth century. Conflict over ecclesiastical order and regularity was later to have far-reaching effects on the Church in the Netherlands.

In the Ecumenical Era [i.e. prior to the schism between East and West in 1054 AD] the five patriarchal sees of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome were regarded as co-ordinate and of equal status in the Church, but the Roman Patriach, because of his succession to the See of Peter and the historic position of the See and the City of Rome in the development of Christianity, was accorded the further title, "Primus inter Pares" -- "First among equals," and a precedence of dignity. As a benevolent father, the Roman Patriarch became known as "Papa" or "Pope," and he was looked uo to as the guardian of the orthodox Faith. 

The Roman Curia began to encroach upon the rights and privileges of the other patriarchates (national churches). The defenders of Apostolic order asserted their rights to continue to choose their own bishops and to rule their local affairs under universally accepted customs that could be changed only by the decision of a General Council of the whole Church. The Council of Constance (1414-1418), as did other councils, defended the rights of autonomous national churches and affirmed that it had "it's authority immediately from Christ; and that all men, of every rank and condition, including the Pope himself, (was) bound to obey it in matters concerning the Faith, the abolition of schism, and the reformation of the Church of God in its head and its members."

Orders held in common with the Undivided Church of the early centuries traces its Apostolic Succession in more recent centuries through the ancient See of Utrecht in Holland. Saint Willibrord, the "Apostle to the Netherlands," was consecrated bishop by Pope Sergius I in 696 AD, at Rome. 2 Upon his return to the Netherlands, he founded the See of Utrecht. One of his successors in that See was the Great Saint Boniface, the "Apostle of Germany."3 The church of Utrecht also provided a worthy occupant for the See of Peter in 1522 in the person of Adrian VI. Moreover, two of the abler exponents of the religious life, Geerte Groote, who founded the Brothers of Common Life, 4 and Thomas A Kempis, who is credited with writing The Imitation of Christ, were from the Dutch Church.

Assenting to a petition made by the Holy Roman Emperor, Conrad III, and Bishop Herbert of Utrecht, Blessed Pope Eugene III, in the year 1145, granted the Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht the right to elect successors to the see in times of vacancy. This privilege was confirmed by the fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215. The autonomous character of the ancient Catholic Church in the Netherlands was further demonstrated by a second grant by Pope Leo X. "Debitum Pastorales" conceded to Philip of Burgandy, 57th Bishop of Utrecht, that neither he nor any of his successors, nor any of their clergy or laity, should ever, in the first instance, have his cause evoked to any external tribunal, not even under pretence of any apostolic letters whatever and that all such preceedings should be, ipso facto, null and void. This papal concession, in 1520, was of the greatest importance in defense of the rights of the Church.

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