Faith: Kingman home to three Catholic communities

Kingman is blessed with many religious denominations and traditions. Many are active in the community as providers of services to the needy, as well as places people can go to for community and belonging.

There are three distinct Catholic communities as well. This article is mainly about one of those - the Independent Catholic (Old Catholic) Movement.

There is only one Catholic Church, but there are many Catholic denominations. The Roman Catholic Church is one of those denominations, and is the largest. Other examples are the Eastern Rite churches and the National Catholic Church of North America (TNCCNA), of which there are two communities in Kingman. While genuinely Catholic, these and many other Catholic Denominations are not under the governance of Rome. As a group, these denominations are referred to as the Independent Catholic Movement within greater Catholicism.

A denomination is an organization that is a group of fallible human beings who gather in worship, pool funds, file for nonprofit status, operate ministries, hold rummage sales and do all the other things people associate with the word "church." Catholic denominations believe the same tenets of faith, but each denomination is separately organized and managed. So there is unity in faith, but diversity in practice and governance. It is important to not confuse matters of faith with matters of church practice and governance.

Each denomination is run by its own bishops. The Pope is a bishop who has been elected by his fellow bishops to be, in effect, a kind of CEO and spiritual head for the Roman church. There are variations among other Catholic denominations, but each generally has a governing council of bishops, and that council elects an archbishop from among themselves to act as that denomination's presiding bishop.

Don't bishops have to be specially anointed somehow? Does the Pope have to do it?

In the Independent Catholic Movement, every bishop, once consecrated, is invested with the fullness of the priesthood, which includes consecrating new bishops. The process involves a laying on of hands in an unbroken sequence that extends back to the original 12 apostles, Christianity's first bishops. This is referred to as Apostolic Succession.

The National Catholic Church of North America can demonstrate this unbroken sequence. (A religion is considered apostolic when it can trace the consecrations of its bishops back to the original Church established by the Christ himself, according to Scripture.)

Catholic history is much more complicated than most people realize. The greater Catholic Church has split a fair number of times, generally over matters of faith and governance. The two largest splits, usually called "schisms," are those with the Eastern Orthodox in 1054 and with the Anglican Communion in 1534.

And there have been a few instances in Church history where Rome has given a diocese permission to elect its own bishops, for reasons that today sound quaint or obscure. Bishops independent of Rome have come about through both of these mechanisms described above.

Some differences that are noteworthy are:

Married clergy

The Roman Catholic Church is the only major religious group in all Christendom with a celibate clergy. The historical reasons for that might surprise you, though they are too complex to cover here. Mandatory celibacy has been a requirement of the Roman Church since around 1100 or so.

For the first thousand years of Catholic history, priests, bishops and even popes were married. There is nothing inherently wrong with celibacy for those who feel called to it, but requiring celibacy of all ordained deacons and priests prevents many worthy individuals from responding to their vocational call.

Within the Independent Catholic movement, celibacy has always been regarded as a special calling, not as a requirement.

Divorce

Divorce is never an easy matter. Most of the Independent Catholic denominations understand that and recognize that Christ's message is of love and forgiveness. The majority of Independent Catholic denominations believe that divorce should not be an unassailable wall standing between two unhappy human beings and the sacraments that can begin to comfort and heal them. TNCCNA welcomes divorced and/or remarried men and women into full participation in the life of the Church.

Ordination of Women

Although there is no consensus yet in the Independent Catholic Movement about women's ordination, more and more independent denominations are ordaining women as deacons, priests and bishops. Women share equally in the life, ministry and governance of the Independent Catholic Church in Kingman.

The Independent Catholic movement is still rather small compared to other Catholic denominations. Between World War II and 1990 or so, it lost many members and seemed in danger of extinction. Since then, the Internet has brought new life and energy to the movement, and provides new ways of letting people know that we exist. Most denominations of the Independent Catholic Movement have their own websites, and many have chat rooms.

The two communities here in Kingman are Our Lady of the Angels and Divine Savior.

Our Lady of the Angels meets at White Cliffs Senior Living at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays. They continue to search for a facility of their own. The parish is active in the Kingman community, offering volunteer services with hospice and at White Cliffs, providing food donations (via Bountiful Baskets) to Cornerstone Mission, as well as keeping a portion of Stockton Hill litter-free. This past year, they maintained a garden in the Dig It Kingman Community Garden, thanks to Tom Carter. Their website is www.azindependentcatholics.org.

Contact me, Rev. Karen Furr, at 928-606-4611 or karen@azindependentcatholics.org.

Divine Savior has its services at 3:30 p.m. Saturdays at Trinity Episcopal Church downtown. The parish is active in master gardeners and a variety of other services to the community. Their website is www.kingmancatholics.org. Contact Rev. Leonard Walker at Frleonard@kingmancatholic.org.

The website for the National Catholic Church of North America is www.tnccna.net.