From 26 to 30 October the Anglican-Old Catholic International Co-ordination Council (AOCICC) met in Canterbury. I have been part of this Council since its inception in 1998, first as co-secretary, and latterly as a member. The AOCICC is the instrument which oversees the relationship of full communion between the Churches of the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht and the Anglican Communion, a relationship established by the Bonn Agreement in 1931. Besides keeping each other abreast of issues and trends in our respective Communions, the AOCICC is engaged in ongoing theological work and is close to finalising a joint statement on ecclesiology and mission.
There are two streams of which come together into the Old Catholic Communion:
- In 1723 in the Netherlands the Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht insisted on its historic right to elect its Archbishop. The Pope refused this right and the Chapter elected independently a new Archbishop who was then consecrated by a French bishop, Dominique Marie Varlet. This led to a break between Utrecht and Rome.
- In 1870 the First Vatican Council declared the infallibility and universal ordinary jurisdiction of the Pope as articles of faith. In Germany, Switzerland, and other parts of Europe protests were raised against these new dogmas on biblical and historical grounds. Opponents were excommunicated by Rome but as they wanted to retain their Catholic identity and continue to receive the Sacraments they turned to the Church of Utrecht for support.
The Old Catholic Communion has an official website here. The above picture was taken last year at the consecration of the Old Catholic Bishop of Haarlem, the Rt Revd Dick Schoon.