The Liberal Catholic Church
Province of the U.S.A.
Statement of Principles
and Summary of Doctrine
The LiberaI Catholic Church believes that there is a body of doctrine and mystical experience common to all the great religions of the world and which cannot be claimed as the exclusive possession of any. Moving within the orbit of Christianity and regarding itself as a distinctively Christian church, it nevertheless holds that the other great religions of the world are divinely inspired and that all proceed from a common source, though different religions stress different aspects of this teaching and some aspects may even temporarily drop out of recognition. These teachings, as facts in nature, rest in their own intrinsic merit. They form that true Catholic faith, which is Catholic because it is the statement of universal principles in nature. — from The Statement of Principles of The Liberal Catholic Church
The following Summary of Doctrine is a concise official statement of what the bishops of the Church have from its beginning unanimously held to be such universal principles in nature, which, while of course not exhaustive, forms the only basis of a rational universe, the creation or emanation of a universal Deity who is the source and embodiment of Love, Compassion, Immutable Law and Eternal Life.
While the bishops, who feel that they have been entrusted by our Lord with the guidance of this New Reformation in His Church, believe that these Doctrines are Eternal Truth and that all must and will eventually come to accept them and live in accordance with them, they make no demand that anyone accept any of them as a condition of membership or of communion; however, as pointed out in the final paragraph, candidates for the priesthood who are to be leaders in the Church will be selected only from among men who have already come, through their own intuition to accept these doctrines as being truths which they can honestly teach to others who are seeking Truth.
SUMMARY OF DOCTRINE
1. The Liberal Catholic Church teaches the existence of God, infinite, eternal, transcendent and immanent. He is the one essence from which all forms of existence are derived. ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28).
2. God manifests in His universe as a Trinity, called in the Christian religion Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three Persons in one God, co-equal and co-eternal; the Father the cause of all, the Son the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us, the Holy Spirit the life-giver, the inspirer and sanctifier.
3. Man is a complex of spirit, soul and body. The spirit of man, made in the image of God, is divine in essence. Therefore he cannot cease to exist; he is eternal and his future is one whose glory and splendour have no limit.
4. Christ ever lives as a mighty spiritual presence in the world, guiding and sustaining His people. The divinity, which was manifest in Him, is gradually being unfolded in all of us, until each shall come ‘unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13).
5. The world is the theatre of an ordered plan, according to which the spirit of man, by repeatedly expressing himself in varying conditions of life and experience, continually unfolds his powers. This spiritual unfoldment takes place under an inviolable law of cause and effect. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap’ (Gal. 6:7). His doings in each physical incarnation largely determine his experience after death in the intermediate world (or world of purgation) and the heavenly world, and greatly influence the circumstances of his next birth. Man is a link in a vast chain of life extending from the highest to the lowest. As he helps those below him, so also he is helped by those who stand above him on the ladder of life, receiving thus a free gift of grace. There is a communion of saints, just men made perfect (Heb 12:23) or holy ones, who help mankind. There is a ministry of angels, who transmit God’s love and vitalizing energy to all parts of His evolutionary scheme.
6. We have ethical duties to ourselves and to others. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and Prophets’ (Matt. 22:37-40). It is our duty to learn to discern the divine light in ourselves and in others; that light ‘which lighteth every man’ (John 1:9). Because we are the children of God, we are all inseparably linked together. We all share His life. That which harms one, harms all. Hence we owe it as a duty to God, both within ourselves and in others, to live up to the highest that is in us, thereby enabling the God within to be more perfectly manifested in our lives; and also, to recognize the unity of all humanity by constant effort towards unselfishness, by love of, consideration for, and service to, our fellow human beings. The service of humanity, reverence for all life and the sacrifice of the lower self to the higher, are laws of spiritual growth.
7. Christ instituted various sacraments in which an inward and spiritual grace is given to us through an outward and visible sign. The Liberal Catholic Church recognises and administers the seven traditional sacraments, which are: Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Absolution, Holy Unction, Holy Matrimony, and Holy Orders. To ensure their efficacy it guards with the greatest care the administration of all sacramental rites. The doctrine of these sacraments is sufficiently set forth in the authorised liturgy of the Church. Christ, the living head of the Church, which He founded, is the true minister of all sacraments.
EMBODIMENT OF DOCTRINE
Inasmuch as the Liberal Catholic Church welcomes to its membership all who are seeking truth, it does not require its members to accept this statement of doctrine, but the statement is to be regarded as embodying the distinctive contribution of The Liberal Catholic Church to Christian thought, and the bishops of the church are prepared to accept as candidates for ordination only those who find themselves in agreement with it.