The National Catholic Church of North America is an independent or autocephalous (literally meaning "having its own head" and best defined as "self governing") part of the “... one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

Many would ask, “Why would a church be independent? Isn’t that different to the historical Church?” Actually, it is not so different. During the first generations of Christianity all local churches were independent and there was no central governing organization. These local communities were ministered to by what we would, today, call bishops and deacons. The rank of priest only began to emerge and differentiate from that of bishop later, during the mid-second century, as the Church expanded from the cities to the rural areas.

Beginning in the second Century, with the spread of Christianity into the rural areas outside the cities, and particularly after the devolution of the presbyter (priest) from the Order of Bishop, local churches began to be grouped together to permit better organization and supervision of orthodoxy. Parishes began to be led by priests. A bishop became head of a region called a diocese, and bishops of cities, called Metropolitans or Archbishops, supervised but did not rule over or govern the nearby rural dioceses. Diocesan Bishops were completely autonomous in their own diocese so long as they remained true to the Faith.

All were organized under the leadership of some principal bishop called a Patriarch who headed one of the most important dioceses in the world. In ancient times the Patriarchs were the Bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and Constantinople. Each were equal in rank, prestige, and authority; though particular honor was given to the Patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople as their Sees were the seats of Imperial Roman Government. Today, the Patriarch of Rome, also known as the Patriarch of the West, is also called the Pope. The Patriarch of Constantinople, called the Ecumenical Patriarch, is the leader of all Eastern Orthodox Churches, a title of honor not of governance, except within his own church.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches, perhaps, better known as the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and so on, continue to follow the model of the Patriarch leader as a "first among equals" today. Local Bishops and Metropolitans have autonomy and are answerable to their "Synod of Bishops" rather than to the Patriarch in matters of orthodoxy and discipline. There are many Catholic Churches which, today, belong to the Orthodox family. Many have a national or ethnic character. All are completely self governing. Some, such as the Russian Orthodox Church, have their own Patriarch. Each shares a communion with the other Churches of Orthodoxy. Though formed at different times, all are said to have entered schism, that is, severed relations, with Rome in 1054 in response to unhistorical assertions of Papal Authority.

Western Catholic Christianity experienced an authoritarian approach to leadership under the control of the Patriarch/bishop of Rome (the Pope). Propelled by a vacuum of civil leadership after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and fueled by medieval political intrigues, the Popes soon asserted greater and greater authority. Through the years assertions of Papal power and authority have frequently led to conflict and scandal. The Great Schism of 1054 in which Roman Catholicism split Christianity by breaking ties with Eastern Orthodoxy, the scandalous conduct of the Renaissance Church, the Reformation of the sixteenth century, and numerous smaller schisms which have occurred since, can be traced to this authoritarian approach.

Western Independent Catholic Churches (i.e. those whose roots are through the Roman Catholic Church) include the Old Catholic Church and the National Catholic Church of North America. Each has maintained a Catholic identity, Apostolic Succession, continue Sacramental and liturgical worship, and follow the Traditions of the historic church.

Like the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches; the National Catholic Church of North America is part of the ", holy, catholic and apostolic Church."

The Church is one because it is one with its founder, Jesus Christ and, in His Mystical Body, is one with all believers. The Church is holy because Christ is Holy and sanctifies the Church by His continuing Presence in the Sacraments and His Word. The Church is catholic both because, as a member of Christ's mystical body, it is universal; and because it consciously links itself to the Traditions and practices of the historic Church. The Church is Apostolic because it is linked to the faith, teachings, and authority of the Apostles, both Sacramentally and historically, through the Apostolic Succession of the Bishops and Clergy.

The National Catholic Church of North America’s (formerly the Catholic Church in America after the merger of the two organizations and the subsequent reorganization) foundations can be traced to Brazil, where, on July 6 1945, as a result of ecclesiastical and civil persecutions, a new community of Independent Catholics was established. The Founding community, which still exists today, is called Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasiliera (the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil).

Apostolic Succession was brought to the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil by its first bishop, the late Bishop Carlos Duarte-Costa, who had been the Roman Catholic Diocesan Bishop of the Brazilian diocese of Botucatu, and later titular Bishop of Maura, before separating from the Roman Catholic Church (see Apostolic Succession for more information).

The National Catholic Church of North America is led by the Presiding Bishop who acts as the Administrative head of the Church and, as the Church has one National Diocese, is also the Diocesan Bishop and so enjoys legislative and judicial autonomy within this Diocese.

Though its roots are Roman, the National Catholic Church of North America, as its name suggests, is a thoroughly American Catholic Church which seeks to integrate the uniquely American cultural experience with the ancient traditions of the Catholic Faith.

For more information on Independent Catholicism you may wish to read articles on wikipedia here.


Independent Catholicism