What is a National Catholic Parish?

The first question people ask about Christ the King Mission Catholic Church is usually this one: What is the difference between this mission parish and a Roman Catholic parish?

To answer this question properly requires some brief historical background. For the first 1000 years of Christianity, there was, for the most part, one unified Church, though there were numerous individuals promoting division. In 1054, a major break in communion involving a major portion of the Church occurred. The Eastern part of the Church, (the Eastern Orthodox) and the Western part (the Roman Catholics), severed communion with each other through mutual excommunications.

Division within the Western Church continued during the 16th century as various Reformers protested what were seen as Roman Catholic abuses and established several Protestant denominations on the European continent and the Anglican Church in England (known as the Episcopal Church in the USA). These churches all left the communion of the Catholic Church, which from then on was commonly called the Roman Catholic Church.

By rejecting the concept of a priesthood that offers sacrifice (the Mass) and by changing their ordination rites to institutionalize this rejection of a sacrificial priesthood, these denominations lost the historic episcopate, and, in so doing, lost the Real Presence of Christ in their Eucharist, which comes about through the ministry of that same priesthood they had rejected.

This is how the Roman Catholic and National Catholic Churches view the history of Christianity's sad divisions. There are many factors which brought about these divisions, theological, political and even personal (Henry VIII's serial marriages, for instance), but because all of them involved the rejection of the authority of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, independence from Papal authority is something all these denominations have in common.

Into this general picture of independence from Papal authority comes the National Catholic movement, though with very important differences as we shall see very shortly; and while "National Catholicism" is not widely known today, it nonetheless plays an important role in the history of modern Catholicism.

The National Catholic movement differs from the various Protestant divisions in that National Catholicism kept its belief in the Mass and in the priesthood necessary to have the Mass. To insure this, National Catholicism did not create new Ordination Rites, but simply translated the official Latin Roman Catholic rites. Thus it has never lost the historic episcopate, has maintained a validly ordained clergy and possesses an authentic Eucharist in which Christ is truly present. For this reason, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, National Catholic parishes are seen as "separated" from Rome, (the official theological

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