About NAORCC <Utrecht succession> Archdiocese of California

The North American Old Roman Catholic Church-Utrecht Succession Archdiocese of California is the Particular Church of the Old Roman Catholic Church that descended from the early Roman Catholic Church through the authentic historic See of Utrecht in Netherland. It maintains the Catholic Faith as it had always been believed by the Roman Catholic Church. “Old Roman Catholic” is the term used to differentiate this church from other “Old Catholic Churches.”


Q. What do you believe in?

A: The followings are what we believe in:

1. We believe in Jesus as the Christ and our personal savior.

2. We believe in The Holy Trinity.

3. We believe in the 10 Commandments.

4. We believe in the three historic creeds: Nicene, Apostles, and Athanasian.

5. We believe in the inerrancy and divine inspiration of Holy Scriptures.

6. We believe that the Bread and Wine become the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

7. We believe in the scriptural teaching of Jesus and the primacy of Peter and his successor as first among equals and believe the teachings and the dogma of Infallibility, Assumption of Mary, and the Immaculate Conception.

8. We believe in the seven sacraments of the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Anointing and Prayer for the Sick, Confession and Reconciliation, Marriage, and Holy Orders.

9. We believe that all Holy Orders (bishops, priests, and deacons) are reserved callings for married or single men. We do not ordain women, gays & lesbians, but we respect them as human person, our co-equal and have great roles & responsibilities in the church.

10. We respect & appreciate the wisdom and guidance of the doctrines of the Seven Early Church Ecumenical Councils.

11. We respect & appreciate the wisdom and guidance of the Early Church Fathers

12. We believe that celibacy of those in Holy Orders is a discipline and a personal decision. It is a special gift in the Church.

13. We believe and hold apostolic succession.

14. We believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

15. We believe Holy Communion is open to all Christian believers.

16. We believe in the sanctity of marriage. 

17. We believe marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman; Thus, we do not perform or bless same-sex marriages.

18. We believe, care & respect for human life. We do not allow and agree on the practice of abortion and euthanasia as a form of taking one’s life.

19. We believe in the responsible stewardship of our planet. (Care for Ecology, Natural Resources & Mother Nature)

20. We believe, uphold & respect our respective country’s form of governance with due diligence, and focus on the morals & spiritual nourishment of the Christian faithful for the salvation of souls.

Q. Why do you allow / accept married priests when it is not permitted in the Roman Catholic Church?

A: Clerical celibacy, which is not a doctrine but only a matter of discipline, is mandatory in the Roman Catholic Church; it is just optional in the Old Roman Catholic Church as observed since apostolic time. Though we allow / accept married priests, we have a significant number of celibate priests. The validity of the Sacraments does not depend on whether the priest administering them is married or not. Optional celibacy has been practiced in the Church since the Early Church. In Titus 1:5, St. Paul told Titus to appoint presbyter on condition that a man be blameless and married only once. Celibacy discipline started in Spain and the Local Spanish Synod of Elvira in 306 AD imposed celibacy on bishops, priests, and deacons. Spain is only part of the Western (Roman Catholic) Church. By the time of the General Council of Nicaea in 325, the notion of clerical celibacy was rejected by many Bishops mostly coming from the Eastern Churches (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople). From there, however, only Spain had such notion of celibacy. The Eastern Catholic Churches continued to allow the ordination of married men as deacons and as priests. Meanwhile, in the West, the married priesthood was fading fast due to the influence of Spain and the European monastic spirituality of the monks in 4th and 5th centuries who promoted the idea of celibacy, except in some rural areas. After the East-West Great Schism in 1054, only the West representatives participated the First Lateran Council in 1123. Consequently, clerical celibacy became obligatory, as stipulated in Canon 21. The Second Lateran Council in 1139 followed up strictly with corresponding deprivation of their position. Both Lateran Councils made it clear that clerical celibacy became mandatory. In 2009 when Benedict XVl was Pope through his apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus”, married Anglican and Episcopalian priests who convert to Catholicism have been allowed to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, thus becoming married priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Nowadays, great numbers of these married priests are serving in Roman Catholic Dioceses in North America, Australia-New Zealand, and Europe.

Q: Are you really Catholic?

A: Yes! The word Catholic descends from the Greek word “Katholikos”, which means universal. In addition to the Latin or Roman tradition, there are seven non-Latin, non-Roman ecclesial traditions: Armenian, Byzantine, Coptic, Ethiopian, East Syriac (Chaldean), West Syriac, and Maronite. Each of the Churches with non-Latin traditions is as Catholic as the Roman Catholic ChurchThe Catholic Church consists of 24 sui iuris churches, including the Latin Church and 23 Eastern Catholic Churches (Catholic Wikipedia).

Q: How was the Old Roman Catholic Church established?

A: St. Willibrord, the “Apostle to the Netherlands”, was consecrated to the Episcopacy by Pope Sergius I in the year 696 at Rome and the City of Utrecht was raised to the dignity of a Diocese. Upon his return to the Netherland, St. Willibrord established the See of Utrecht and established the Dioceses at Deventer and Haarlem. In the year 1145, Pope Eugene 111 granted the See of Utrecht the right to elect successors to the See in times of vacancy; thus, the See of Utrecht possessed the perpetual right to elect its own bishops. This privilege was affirmed by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. And in 1517, in his decree Debitum Pastoralis, Pope Leo X granted the See of Utrecht autonomy, the right of adjudication of its own affairs that the Tribunals of Rome cannot interfere. The Church of Utrecht provided a worthy occupant for the Papal See in 1552 in the person of Pope Hadrian V1.

Q: Do you have a valid Apostolic lineage?

A: Yes! The Old Roman Catholic Church does possess a valid line of Apostolic Succession through the Ancient See of Utrecht in Holland, Netherland. Just like the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the Old Roman Catholic Church is a True Particular Church (“Sui Uris”). It remains united to the Roman Catholic Church by means of the closest bonds of Apostolic Succession and valid Eucharist as declared by Pope John Paul 11 in “Dominus Iesus”, Chapter 1V, number 17, 2000.

Q: Do Popes make mistakes?

A: Yes! Popes are humans; they are imperfect and as such they make mistakes or commit sins. Pope Francis has been reported to occasionally ask priests at papal events to hear his confessions, although the usual practice is that the pope selects a “papal confessor.” Pope Francis said that he attends confession every 2 weeks. He, then, urged priests, and even bishops to confess too; “we are all sinners,” said Pope Francis. On the other hand, like Roman Catholics, we, in the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, believe that when speaking “ex cathedra” in matters of faith and morals, popes do not make mistakes. Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope, when he speaks “ex cathedra”, is preserved from the possibility of error on doctrine “initially given to the apostolic Church and handed down in Scriptures and tradition”. It does not mean that the pope cannot sin or otherwise err in most situations (Wikipedia). This dogma, which Pope Pius 1X in 1870, created further divisions within the Catholic Church. Catholics, who had bitter memories or who came to know the abuses, injustices, and maltreatments of Church leaders especially during the reformation eras, could hardly accept it. For instance, Pope Innocent Xll (1691-1700) supported the Jesuits to invade the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Utrecht in the Netherlands. He appointed a congregation of cardinals to try Archbishop Petrus Codde, whom the Jesuits falsely accused of favoring “Jansenism heresy”, even though such heresy was condemned many times by the Church of Utrecht. This violated the decree of Pope Leo X in his “Debitum Pastoralis” in 1517 that granted the See of Utrecht autonomy and that the Tribunals of Rome cannot interfere. The tribunal did not find Archbishop Codde guilty but despite the archbishop’s proved innocence and orthodoxy, Pope Clement X1 (1700-1721) suspended and deposed the Archbishop of Utrecht and appointed a Pro-Vicar Apostolic in his place. After the failure of many negotiations and despite everything she did to prevent it, the Ancient Church of Utrecht was forced out of communion with the Apostolic see of Rome in 1711.

Finally, like any other Catholics, popes too do make mistakes outside the scope of the Dogma of Papal infallibility. Popes can also confess the sins of the entire church. At the beginning of the new millennium, Pope John Paul 11 famously offered a litany of “mea culpa’s”, asking forgiveness for, among other things, the Inquisition, centuries of Christian antisemitism, and the church’s chronic denial of the dignity of women. In July 2023, before a global television audience, Pope Francis confessed the injustice of the notorious boarding schools, the church-sponsored institutions that destroyed Native cultures and caused generations of unspeakable trauma. Indeed, history has shown that few popes were to blame for the division within the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, efforts of recent popes are aiming towards reconciliation and communion among all Catholics. We pray that one day “we may all be one” once again as it was before.

Q: What about the 1870 schism that created Old Catholicism?

A: In 1870, several church leaders resisted the dogma of Papal Infallibility and some changes introduced by the First Vatican Council. This resistance gravely affected the Church of Utrecht, thereby these church leaders decided to form the Old Catholic Church with its “Old Catholicism”. Since the influence of “Old Catholicism” and its protestant beliefs dominated in the modern Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches, the Most Reverend Arnold Harris Matthew and some other bishops departed from the Old Catholic Church and formed the Old Roman Catholic Church to maintain loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church and to preserve the Roman Catholicism of the ancient See of Utrecht.

Q: Do Old Roman Catholics accept Papal authority?

A: Yes! We do accept and recognize the Holy Father, the Pope as the Supreme Pontiff. We pray for him at every Mass, and we follow his teachings like any Roman Catholic should be. We keep praying that one day, we may “all be one” as we actively reach out to others for unity and collaboration. But each Bishop is an Apostle of Christ, and as such has supreme authority for the flock entrusted to his care in a particular locality. Rules and procedures for appointing bishops have changed over the years in the Roman Catholic Church, with all bishops now being appointed or confirmed by the Pope. However, Old Roman Catholics continue to have Leonine Privilege, and so lawfully continue to elect their own Bishops. Authentic Old Roman Catholicism does not reject papal authority, for to do so would be to reject the very authority that granted the privileges enjoyed by Old Roman Catholics.

Q: How did the Old Roman Catholic Church spread in Americas and Asia?

A: The Old Roman Catholic Church spread in the United States of America on November 7, 1914, when the Prince-Bishop Rudolph de Landas Berghes arrived here from Great Britain.

Bishop Berghes had been consecrated by the Old Roman Catholic Archbishop, Arnold Harris Mathew in London on June 29, 1912. On November 7, 1914, he emigrated to the United States due to the political climate in Europe during the early years of the First World War. Bishop Berghes left England and took up residence in New York City, later in Illinois and finally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he died in 1920.

Bishop Berghes began a mission of the Old Roman Catholic Church in America and on October 4, 1916, consecrated as a Bishop, The Most Reverend Carmel Henry Carfora, a former Roman Catholic Franciscan Friar, to serve as his associate and colleague. Together they laid the foundation of Catholic Faith, with an indisputably valid Apostolic line of Succession. Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora succeeded Archbishop Berghes, serving as the Second Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church from October 12, 1919, until his death on January 11, 1958. In 1939, the Archdiocese of California of the North American Roman Catholic Church was erected. It was formally incorporated in the State of California by the Most Reverend Edgar Ramon Verostek in 1940 by the mandate of Archbishop Carfora. The Most Reverend Joseph Andrew Vellone succeeded Archbishop Verostek as Metropolitan and Presiding Archbishop of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church – Utrecht Succession, Archdiocese of California since 1994 until his death on 5th January 2022. The Most Reverend Ivan Alberto Castaneda succeeded Archbishop Vellone as the reigning Metropolitan and Presiding Archbishop since 6th January 2022 until the present day. Today, the North American Old Roman Catholic Church has spread in Brazil, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Honduras, Columbia, Mexico, and Philippines. The diocese of the Infant Jesus in General Santos City under Bishop Jose M. Madanguit, MCIJ, DD has clergy spread in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Moreover, the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, Archdiocese of California has two missionary congregations: the Missionary Congregation of the Infant Jesus and the Missionary Society of Saints Peter and Paul whose clergy are stationed in many cities in the Philippines, Bahrain, Canada, and USA.


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