We Are Catholic

Why Saint Cecilia’s is a Catholic Community

Saint Cecilia Catholic Community is a member of the Diocese of California in the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, a non-Vatican Catholic jurisdiction with bishops, priests, and deacons validly ordained in the Apostolic Succession.

We are People of God, professing our faith in a living Catholic tradition. We provide a place of solace and comfort to those spiritually and emotionally injured in other churches. Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, and the Diocese of California, are committed to making church a safe and accepting place to worship and receive spiritual care. If you have suffered hurt and rejection in other churches, we want you and need you. In caring for you, we communicate to the world that we are men and women, lay and ordained, responding to the messianic call of Jesus Himself to preach the Gospel of liberation and justice.

The Ecumenical Catholic Communion traces its roots to the Old Catholic movement which began in 1870 with Dutch Catholics responding to the first Vatican Council’s pronouncement of Papal Infallibility and the primacy of papal jurisdiction. Like the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Old Catholics recognize the Pope as “primus inter pares” or “first among equals” with no greater significance or power than any other primate. The dogma of papal infallibility is a bold misuse of power contrary to the spirit, example and teachings of Jesus. The dogma of Papal Infallibility, though intended to promote unity within the Church, actually obstructs that unity and thus diminishes the Pope as the successor to Peter and symbol of unity. The Papal Infallibility dogma, and that of primacy of jurisdiction, actually promotes sectarianism, not Catholicism.

Contrary to what many people think, the Roman Catholic Church is not the only Catholic Church. Old Catholics share a common theology and liturgical tradition as one of many Catholic Churches. Our deacons, priests and bishops are ordained in the same historic Apostolic Succession as the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion, and others. We are Western Christians accepting the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed as statements of faith. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion holds that laity as well as clergy are equally important members of the Catholic Church, although they each play distinct roles as such. No person or persons owns the Church, the sacramental ministry, or the grace of Christ. Lay people and clergy together govern the Church. Both must respect, and actively seek to discern, how the Holy Spirit is leading the Church. In Catholic tradition this is called ascertaining the “sensus fidelium” — the sense of the faithful.

The Ecumenical Catholic Communion seeks reconciliation with Rome and other Christians, and prays for the unity of the whole Body of Christ. Accordingly, our evangelization and missionary activities are directed to the entire world, not just to disaffected Roman Catholics. Our canon law contains the minimum necessary to operate an organization and does not attempt to regulate the sex lives of its members. We value relationships more than rules. For us, justice in human relations is more important than politics. We actively encourage all Catholics to bring their life experience to the formulation of church teachings and in choosing their leaders.

As a Catholic Community, we uphold the following practices:

Sacramental Life Available To All

Consistent with Catholic theology, as promulgated by the second Vatican Council called by Pope John XXIII, the Ecumenical Catholic Communion recognizes the baptism and faith of all Christians. Baptism establishes the genuine unity that already exists in Christ’s Church. Therefore, regardless of denominational affiliation, all are welcome to receive Holy Communion and to celebrate the sacramental life in our communities. The sacraments are not designed to reward human achievement, but are divine gifts of grace enabling us to become the People of God and to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. We offer all seven sacraments to everyone. Holy Orders and Confirmation are conferred by our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Armando Leyva.

Ministry of the Baptized

If you are baptized, you are a minister commissioned to live and practice the Gospel of Jesus in your daily life among friends and family and in your occupation as the first and most important avenue of ministry. The laity ministers by what they do and say in their homes, at work, and in their leisure as they live out their faith in a practical and concrete way. In the words of the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, the laity “work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven . In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity.” The Church is called to proclaim and prefigure the Kingdom of God. The laity are co-workers in the vineyard with the those in ordained ministry to make that Kingdom a tangible reality in the here and now.

Ordained Ministry Vocations Without Discrimination

In the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, all the baptized, men and women, gay and straight, married and single, are encouraged to respond to a genuine vocation to fully participate in the ministerial priesthood. As St. Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; all are one in Christ Jesus.” We regard as unjust the exclusion of women and LGBT persons from ordained ministry, which diminishes them within the Church and in the secular world. Holy Orders are conferred without regard to gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, race, national origin, or any other arbitrary factor.

Affirmation of Committed Intimate Relationships

The Ecumenical Catholic Communion does not accept the Roman Catholic view that same-sex attraction violates natural law. Rather, natural law is that same-sex attraction has always been part of human existence. God created most people to be attracted to the opposite sex, but created others to be same-sex attracted in varying degrees. Consequently the Ecumenical Catholic Communion supports and affirms the joy and intimacy of marriage for all as a fundamental human right, including gay and lesbian persons, who are invited, along with heterosexual couples, to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony at Saint Cecilia Catholic Community and elsewhere. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion upholds the solemnity of all marriages as lifelong, faithful commitments. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion believes that the experiences and insights of laypersons and married clergy are highly relevant to a spiritual approach to intimate human relationships. We believe that God intended sex to express and celebrate love in a special and safe sharing of intimacy. This has significant implications for all Catholics, but particularly for the divorced and remarried. Divorce is traumatic for all who experience it — spouses, children or extended family — and should be avoided if at all possible. The clergy of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion stand ready to render spiritual insights to couples who are experiencing marital problems, and when appropriate, make referrals to competent marriage therapists. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion does not require an ecclesiastical annulment process as a prerequisite to marriage after divorce. We join our Eastern Christian brothers and sisters whose tradition of divorce and remarriage continues from the first eleven hundred years of our common history. We hold that all marriages are best nourished in the sacramental life of the Church rather than outside it, and welcome all sorts of conventional and unconventional families to share our common life.

Respect for Conscience

Some persons are called to be parents and some are not. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion invites all, particularly young people, to reflect upon and discern whether or not they are truly called to the ministry of parenthood, and if so, how many children and when they should be born. The answers to those questions are different for everyone and involve spiritual, emotional, social and financial considerations. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion strongly believes that all children should be wanted, respected, and above all, loved. The use of contraception and artificial birth control is always an issue of conscience to be decided by couples, not the church.

Bottom Line: The Dignity of the Human Person is Number One

The Ecumenical Catholic Communion affirms the dignity of all human persons regardless of race, national origin, religious affiliation, gender, or sexual orientation. We strive for justice and compassion within the Church and outside it.