Frequently Asked Questions about the Old Catholic Church and Spirit of Hope Independent Catholic Community

(See the major points of comparison side-by-side on this page.)

What is the Independent/Old Catholic Church?

The Independent/Old Catholic Church has its roots in the Catholic Church of the Netherlands where in 1145, Pope Eugene III granted the diocese of Utrecht the right to elect and consecrate its own Bishops and clergy.  That right was reconfirmed by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 and again by Pope Leo X in 1520.  The Old Catholic Church reiterated its right at the First Vatican Council in 1870, because a good number of the Bishops did not agree with the Roman dogmatic declaration of Papal infallibility. It was at this time that the Roman Catholic Church invoked obedience to Papal Authority and officially replaced all those Bishops who would not agree to the Dogmatic Declaration of Papal Infallibility.

Why haven’t we heard of it before?

The Old Catholic movement has been quietly developing and growing for many years.  Sometimes the Roman Catholic Church leadership is quite threatened by the rise of an expression of our Catholic faith outside of their own definition.  Thus, the Old Catholic movement has often kept their communities intentionally small in order to meet the pastoral needs of their members and live out their faith without inviting conflict with the much larger Roman Catholic leadership.

Does the Old Catholic Church celebrate all seven sacraments?

Yes.  We celebrate all seven sacraments.  We, in fact, utilize for the most part, the very same rituals as does the Roman Catholic Church.  Spirit of Hope wishes to be a community which is sensitive to the needs, wants and desires of all who request any of the Sacraments.

Does the Roman Catholic Church recognize the Sacraments of the Independent/Old Catholic Church?

Yes.  The Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church states: “The sacraments of baptism, confirmation and orders cannot be repeated since they imprint a character.” #845  The Sacrament of Marriage is also recognized, as it is of all other faith traditions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Spirit of Hope Catholic Community

When  we celebrated our first Mass as a community?

Fr.  Marty Shanahan’s ordination to the Priesthood took place January 19th, 2008 and he began his Pastoral duties at Spirit of Hope on January 26th, 2008. Our first mass as a community was celebrated that day.  Come and join us!

Does the Roman Catholic Church Consider the Sacraments of Old Catholics as Valid?


When members of the Roman Catholic Church encounter Old Catholic Churches for the first time, they are often surprised to learn that Catholic denominations exist apart from Rome. Understandably, questions are raised about the validity of Orders and Sacraments administered by Old Catholics. We hope the following information will be helpful. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dominus Iesus

At the Vatican on 16 June 2000, Pope John Paul II ratified and ordered the publication of Dominus Iesus. This Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was signed and published by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) in August of the same year. In this Declaration, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orders and Sacraments of Old Catholic denominations: “The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.” “Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such … have by no
means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church.” IV. Unicity and Unity of the Church, 17

Other Citations

Catholic Almanac – 1974
“The Roman Church recognizes the validity of Old Catholic Orders and other Sacraments.” (Felician A. Roy, OFM, p. 368)

The Pastoral Companion – A Canon Law Handbook for Catholic Ministry – Third Edition by John M. Huels,J.C.D. page 335
“The principal condition is that these sacraments can be received only from validly ordained ministers. These are ministers who belong to “churches that have preserved the substance of the Eucharistic teaching, the sacraments of orders, and apostolic succession” This would include all Eastern non – Catholic churches, the Polish National Church, Old Catholic, and Old Roman Catholic.

Separated Brethren
“We have no reason to doubt that the Old Catholic Orders are valid. The Apostolic Succession does not depend on obedience to the See of Peter, but rather on the objective line of succession from Apostolic sources, the proper matter and form, and the proper intention … likewise Old Catholic bishops are bishops in Apostolic Succession … The Old Catholics, like the Orthodox, possess a valid priesthood.” (William J. Whalan, pp. 204,248)

Rights and Responsibilities: A Catholic’s Guide to the New Code of Canon Law
“When a Catholic sacred minister is unavailable and there is urgent spiritualnecessity, Catholics may receive the Eucharist, penance, or anointing from sacred ministers of non-Catholic denominations whose Holy Orders are considered valid by the Catholic Church. This includes all Eastern Orthodox priests, as well as priests of the Old Catholic or Polish National Church.” (Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., p. 44)

Are my contributions to Spirit of Hope Catholic Community tax deductible?

Yes. we a registered and recognized 501c3 tax exempt religious corporation.  Every congregation is self supporting and transparent, thus the books and records will be open to anyone requesting to view them, within the confines of the laws of privacy. The local Synod leadership of the community will be fully informed of all income and expenses on a regular basis.  The records will be securely kept at the office and a back up electronic copy, made monthly.

If a priest leaves or retires from a community like Spirit of Hope how does a new pastor get assigned?

Since Spirit of Hope is an independent community, fostering of vocations is considered to be the responsibility of the community.  Spirit of Hope will first need to establish good sound relationships with other Independent/Old Catholic Communities here in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Second, after the community is established, approach our local Ecumenical Seminary and investigate the possibility of a “pastoral internship” in which we might attract a potential future Pastor.

How are decisions made?

The community operates on the basis of collaboration and collegiality.  The primary responsibility of the Pastor is in the area of liturgy and the sacramental life of the community.   A  Synod, which is a small leadership group of normally 5 people from the community, will make decisions regarding the life of the community outside of the liturgy and sacraments.  The Pastor is a member of the Synod.  The aim and goal is to be as collaborative and consultative as possible with all the community.

Can I still go to a Mass at a Roman Catholic Church?

The decision as to where one worships is up to the individual and their conscience. As a member of a particular faith community, like Spirit of Hope, the ideal would be that we pray, learn, and reach out in service to transform the world as a community of faith.  Making a commitment to a community leads to personal accountability and communal accountability as well.