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American Catholic Church in the United States

The American Catholic Church in the United States (ACCUS) is a small Independent Catholic denomination which considers itself in the tradition of the Old Catholic Church[citation needed]. The ACCUS, which was founded in 1999, holds some similar theological beliefs and practices to the Roman Catholic Church. It is not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church or under papal jurisdiction. Its website states: "The ACCUS and its affiliated Worldwide jurisdictions are not under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church and are therefore not subject to the same rules and regulations."



This church considers itself part of the family of the Old Catholic churches[citation needed], from which it derives its claim to apostolic succession. It is in communion with some Old Catholic and Anglican/Episcopalian Churches.[citation needed] however, it is not recognized by the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches.

The American Catholic Church in the United States shares some theological and moral teachings with the Roman Catholic Church, however there are major differences. The ACCUS embraces a progressive interpretation of the Spirit of Vatican II, teaching that nonjudgementalism takes precedence in regard to more difficult questions. The ACCUS purports to reject what it deems "legalistic moral pronouncements" regarding such issues, holding that one's faith in Jesus Christ along with an informed and enlightened conscience, molded on the Gospel principles of truth, justice, compassion and love, should be the ultimate motivating force in one's life.

The ACCUS does not require its priests, deacons, bishops or other clergy and/or religious members to be celibate. Members of the clergy may be married, in a domestic partnership, divorced, or widowed. The ACCUS also allows for the ordination of women. It also does not discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, age, marital status, or previous religious affiliations.

All members of the clergy are required to support themselves through outside employment; clergy are prohibited from receiving a fee for the sacramental services they perform, however, they are allowed to receive gifts and monetary offerings (stipends) so long as they are not the ones suggesting the amount to be given.


The ACCUS was founded by The Most Reverend Lawrence J. Harms, D.D. on May 23, 1999,[1] one year after his consecration as Bishop. The National and International church is based in Frederick, Maryland. Harms led the church as the Presiding Archbishop until April 26, 2012, when he resigned. Harms died two days later. The American Catholic Church in the United States is listed as 501(c)(3) Under the name American Catholic Church, Frederick, MD.[2]


  • Archbishop William A. Johnson, Hon. D.D., Presiding Archbishop[citation needed]

Theology and practicesEdit

The American Catholic Church in the United States celebrates the seven sacraments of: Baptism, First Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Last Rites. It claims to adheres to "the essential Catholic doctrine and practice as expressed and implied in the statements of Vatican Council II, and in the light of the best contemporary thought."[3] It also "rejects artificial barriers to the reception of the Sacraments based on marital status, sexuality or orientation."[4]

Ordained clergy of the ACCUS may marry or be united in a gay/lesbian union.[5]


  1. ^ The ACCUS Website is currently the only source for this information
  2. ^ Internal Revenue Service
  3. ^ "What is the American Catholic Church in the United States?". American Catholic Church in the United States. Retrieved 29 April 2012.  Emphasis original.
  4. ^ "What is the American Catholic Church in the United States?". American Catholic Church in the United States. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religions. Gale. p. 237. 

External linksEdit