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Apostolic Succession


Inevitably the question of "Apostolic Succession" (hereafter: Succession) and "validity" arises for the casual enquirer. There are numerous articles on the internet that discuss this matter in great detail; simply use any search engine. There are as many definitions as there are existing articles.   Everyone seems to define this concept in such a manner that it tends to validate their clergy while casting doubt upon the validity of others.   We refuse to pass judgment upon the Succession of any other community.   This is a matter that must be examined by individual researchers / enquirers to their own satisfaction..

While we find that many definitions are without basis we acknowledge that others have been arrived at with careful thought.   At its most basic, the Succession is just the passing of "sacramental authority" from one generation to the next.   Some communities adhere to the Augustinian definition (mostly in the western church) and others adhere to the definition of the Eastern churches.   The majority of the Old Catholic communities in the New World (North, Central and South America plus the Caribbean basin) embrace the Augustinian theory as do the Roman, Anglican and other "high church" communities.   The Old Catholics of the Utrecht Union seem to have a blend between the eastern and western definitions that is unique to them.   However, historically they have used the Augustinian (western) theory, only in recent decades changing that to the amalgamated version that they currently espouse.   Please refer to the internet (search engines) and a library for a detailed discussion of "Apostolic Succession".

Customarily, the Succession is traced back in time to the Apostles through the primary consecrator; assisting consecrators are employed as a back-up device in case there is some defect in the "Succession" of the primary.   This is an effort to ensure that the continuous succession (tactile) is unbroken.   The "succession" through assisting bishops is seldom listed; however, in this case note that the "succession" through the co-consecrators (assisting bishops) includes lines derived from Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, as well as other Roman sources, in addition to those from the Old Catholic.   Occasionally we are approached by other jurisdictions asking us to either consecrate a bishop for them or to assist in consecration of such.   Please be advised that this jurisdiction does not participate in the ordination (consecration) of bishops for other jurisdictions unless we have established some sort of agreement with them and we find that their candidate meets our criterior.   This position is made necessary by historical agreements that we have made.

The Apostolic Succession of the Oratory of the Common Life [OCL] (and its parent organization the Old Catholic Church - de Landis Berghes succession) is as follows, listing primary consecrator and assisting bishops when known:

Carl Allen Jimenez, OCL (current bishop) – Consecrated 22 February 1997, by John [Jack] E. Holman, assisted by Max Broussard, and Ollie Hollis.

John [Jack] E. Holman, OCL (current bishop) – consecrated 15 March 1969, by Walter X. Brown, assisted by Robert Francis Bishop.

Walter X. Brown (Old Catholic Church in America) – consecrated 26 August 1963, by Francis Xavier Resch, assisted by George Dunstan Hinkson.

Francis Xavier Resch (Old Catholic Church in America) – consecrated 8 December 1940, by Carmel Henry Carfora.

Carmel Henry Carfora (North American Old Roman Catholic) – consecrated 4 October 1916, by Rudolf de Landis Berghes, assisted by William Henry Francis Brothers.

Rudolf de Landis Berghes (North American Old Roman Catholic) – consecrated 29 June 1913, by Arnold Harris Mathew.

Arnold H. Mathew (Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain) – consecrated on 28 April 1908, by Gerardus Gul, assisted by J. J. Van Thiel, N. B. P. Spit, and J. Demmel.

Geradus Gul (Archbishop of Utrecht - Utrecht Union) - consecrated on 11 May 1892, by C.J. Rinkel

Gaspard Johannes Rinkel (Old Catholic bishop of Haarlem) – consecrated on 11 August 1873 by Herman Haykamp

Herman Heykamp (Old Catholic bishop of Deventer) – consecrated on 17 July 1854 by Johannes van Santen

Johannes van Santen (Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht) – consecrated on 14 June 1825 by Johannes Bon

Johannes Bon (Old Catholic bishop of Haarlem) – consecrated on 12 April 1819 by Willibrord van Os

Willibrord van Os (Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht) – consecrated on 24 April 1814 by Gisbert Cornelius de Jong

Gisbert Cornelius de Jong (Old Catholic bishop of Deventer) – consecrated on 7 November 1805 by Jonhannes Jacobus van Rhijn

Jonhannes Jacobus van Rhijn (Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht) – consecrated on 5 July 1797 by Adrian Johannes Broekman

Adrian Johannes Broekman (Old Catholic bishop of Hararlem) – consecrated on 21 June 1778 by Walter Michael Nieuwenhuisen

Walter Michael van Nieuwenhuisen (Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht) – consecrated on 7 February by Jonhannes van Stiphout

Johannes van Stiphout (Old Catholic bishop of Haarlem) – consecrated on 11 July 1745 by Petrus Johannes Meindarts

Petrus Jonhannes Meindarts (Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht) – consecrated on 17 October 1739 by Dominic Marie Varlet

Dominic Marie Varlet was the Roman Catholic bishop of Babylon, in Partibus

Prior to this the succession is through the Roman Catholic church.

Note that many of these bishops were consecrated by a single bishop because of political situations. See: A History of the So-called Jansenist Church of Holland: A Sketch of its Earlier Annals and some account of the Brothers of the Common Life, for a detailed discussion of this situation.   Also there were three Archbishops in the early years of the Utrecht experience that died without consecrating other bishops, leaving the episcopate in the Netherlands vacant.  This almost caused the Succession to die out in the Netherlands.   Each time this happened, bishop Varlet agreed to consecrate a replacement.   The leading theologians and historians of the time examined this procedure and stated that it was valid.   When Roman authorities challenged this, the theologians responded with the notation that if a solitary bishop was not sufficient for consecration of other bishops then the entire Apostolic Succession was non-existant, noting specific instances within the Roman church.   The Roman’s had to concede the point.

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