American Catholic Church in the United States
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The American Catholic Church in the United States (ACCUS) is a denomination of clergy and laity in the Independent Catholic tradition. Founded in 1999, the ACCUS 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.
|American Catholic Church in the U.S.|
|Governance||Mixture of episcopal and congregational polity|
|Head||Most Rev. William A. Johnson|
|Founder||Most Rev. Lawrence J. Harms|
|Separated from||Directly from the Free Catholic Church, indirectly from the Roman Catholic Church|
|Clergy||1 bishop, 16 priests, 3 deacons|
The American Catholic Church in the United States derives its claim to apostolic succession through Bishop Duarte & Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo in the Roman Catholic tradition, as well as through Eastern traditions.
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 moral 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. All members of the clergy are required to support themselves through outside employment. The ACCUS does not discriminate on the basis of gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, race, age, marital status, or previous religious affiliations.
The American Catholic Church in the United States is listed as 501(c)(3) Under the name American Catholic Church, Frederick, MD.
The American Catholic Church in the United States was founded in Frederick, Maryland by the Most Reverend Lawrence J. Harms on June 3, 1999, one year after his consecration as bishop in the Free Catholic Church. Harms led the church as the Presiding Archbishop until his resignation on April 26, 2012, two days before his death. The original jurisdiction consisted of a single diocese, the Diocese of the Holy Cross, which contained four provinces.
In March 2002, in light of the priest sex abuse scandal that shook the Roman Catholic Church, the ACCUS approved a zero-tolerance abuse policy of its own.
The ACCUS had expanded to 21 clergy and seminarians in 12 states by 2007, when it experienced its first contraction with 16 clergy leaving the church. A second contraction occurred in 2013, when eight clergy in six states exited the church.
At the beginning of 2018, the ACCUS was composed of 1 bishop, 15 priests, and three deacons in 13 states. At that time, the jurisdiction's most active ministry was found at Holy Family Catholic Church in Austin, Texas, where four priests and two deacons ministered to more than 200 congregants who were weekly gathering to celebrate the Eucharist.
The following individuals have served as Presiding Archbishop of the American Catholic Church in the United States:
- Most Rev. Lawrence J. Harms (1999-2012)
- Most Rev. William A. Johnson (2012 to present)
Theology and SacramentsEdit
The American Catholic Church in the United States claims to adhere 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." The ACCUS celebrates the seven sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Marriage. Because ACCUS "rejects artificial barriers to the reception of the sacraments based on marital status, sexuality or orientation," the sacrament of Marriage can be celebrated for same-sex couples.
- Ross, Robyn (June 2017). "Critical Mass: An Austin church remakes Catholicism without the Pope, celibate priests, or most of the other rules". Texas Monthly. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- Internal Revenue Service
- "Obituary of Archbishop Lawrence J. Harms". Frederick, Maryland. April 28, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
- "Individual State Locations of the ACCUS". American Catholic Church in the United States. Retrieved April 11, 2018..
- "Critical Mass: An Austin church remakes Catholicism without the Pope, celibate priests, or most of the other rules". Texas Monthly. Austin, Texas. June 2017. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
- "What is the American Catholic Church in the United States?". American Catholic Church in the United States. Retrieved 29 April 2012..
- "What is the American Catholic Church in the United States?". American Catholic Church in the United States. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
- "'Gay unions OK:' Local cleric officiated at many". The Frederick News-Post. Frederick, Maryland. April 5, 2004. Retrieved April 11, 2018.