What is the Old Catholic Church?
The Old Catholic Church broke away from the Latin (Roman) Church primarily over the issue of Papal Infallibility which was declared in the First Vatican Council (189-1870). We do not accept the infallibility of the Pope, however we do honor him as the Bishop of Rome and successor as did the Early Church.
What does Papal Infallibility mean?
As you can read below the Pope is able to declare a Dogma, or essential belief, binding on the Church and all faithful. In the Early church such essential of the faith could only be declared by the entire church coming together in Council. It is from these councils that the church received the Nicene Creed. The text of the Dogma of Infallibly is below, as you can see anyone who does not believe is considered to be in Anathema (outside the church).
We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable. So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema. (see Denziger §1839).
— Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, Chapter iv
Does the Old Catholic Church have valid apostolic succession?
Yes. Our primary lines of succession trace back through both the Latin Church (Utrecht) and the Eastern Church (Assyrian Church of the East). Please see information on the link below which verifies that the Latin Church accepts the validity of Old Catholic orders and the validly of our Sacraments: http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2016/10/13/what-is-the-old-catholic-church/
Another source which expresses the Latin opinion on the validly of the Eucharist in churches not in full communion with Rome is stated in the Roman Document Dominus Jesus and found on the Vatican website at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html which states:
58 The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the 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.59 Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy,
As stated in the article in the link some Old Catholics have begun to ordain women to the Priesthood and Episcopacy (Bishops). When this is done their apostolic succession is no longer considered to be valid. This is one reason why the OCCNA does not ordain women.
What Sacraments are offered in the Old Catholic Church?
We provide the same seven sacraments as the Latin and Eastern Orthodox. They are: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Marriage, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders.
Who may receive Holy Communion?
There are two parts to this answer:
First – We allow all baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt to receive Holy Communion. This is done because we accept these baptisms to be valid and therefore those baptized outside of the catholic faith are in fact children of God and members of the Body of Christ.
Second – in the Early Church Holy Communion was provided to all baptized even infants (Paedocommunion). This is still practiced in the Eastern Orthodox churches who immediately provide the Blood of Christ to a newly baptized infant. We do not look at physical age as determining spiritual age and therefore provide the Body and Blood of Christ to all who seek to be fed. We do hope that as those who have never experienced the Holy Eucharist will mature in the faith and seek Confirmation and along with it adult discipleship.
For additional information about the beliefs of All Saints please visit the OCCNA web site at www.occna.org and select the beliefs tab at the top of the screen