The Liberal Catholic Church came into being in order that people who insist upon complete freedom of belief in their search for truth could have free access to the traditional Catholic Sacraments without having to give even lip service to creeds or dogmas to which they could, not honestly and wholeheartedly subscribe. It was the only church having the valid Apostolic Succession of Holy Orders, and therefore dispensing valid Catholic Sacraments, which welcomed to Holy Communion all reverent people of whatever denomination or religion — or of none.
The Liberal Catholic Church makes no specific demands as to belief on the part of any of its members — simply a willingness to worship together with the use of a common Liturgy in a spirit of brotherhood. This does not imply that the Church has no philosophy which it holds to be true. It has a definite doctrine which it teaches, but it does not insist on the acceptance of its philosophy, feeling that since it is true, all men will one day come to see its truth and order their lives thereby. We hold that “a truth is not a truth for a man, nor revelation until he sees it to be true for himself.” Candidates for the Priesthood are selected from among men who have, of their own study and intuition, arrived at a general acceptance of its philosophy as expressed in its official Summary of Doctrine.
This philosophy postulates the existence of God manifesting as the creative Trinity; of man sharing the divine life and nature and therefore himself eternal destined to attain a glorious state of godlike perfection. Man evolves through repeated earthly lives of experience (reincarnation) under the perfect divine law of absolute justice (karma) whereby each individual inevitably reaps the fruit of all his thoughts, feelings and actions, good or bad, life after life. Death is followed by a time of readjustment during which the soul frees itself from any attachment to evil and then reaps the reward of its good deeds in a heaven of happiness. Realizing at length the need for more earthly experience in order to evolve further towards its goal of perfection, the soul reincarnates. Its new body and life circumstances reflect both what it has earned and what it has learned in preceding lives.
We hold that Christ established the Christian Religion, not to condemn earlier religions as erroneous, but to give a new impetus to evolving humanity, in particular to inculcate a greater realization of human brotherhood and mutual responsibility. He established His sacramental system in order that through it He might be able to give fuller, and more direct personal help and inspiration to mankind. We feel that He wants the widest use to be made of His gifts hence our open Communion. We feel also that through the celebration of the Eucharist in a spirit of joy and gladness, with wholehearted participation by priest and congregation aided by the Angel Hosts, a tremendous wave of quickening and spiritualizing inspiration can be spread abroad over the whole community. Believing that this aspect of the Eucharist is one which the Lord wishes emphasized for His wider work, we have made it one of the primary purposes of our Liberal Catholic worship.
THE HOLY EUCHARIST
To this end the Liturgy of the Eucharist was revised to eliminate all expressions of fear, of supposed divine wrath, all ideas of God contrary to the loving Father taught by Jesus. Our service is one of joy, of hope and gladness, expressed by priest and people in a highly congregational form of worship.
We maintain that transubstantiation is a fact; that in the act of Consecration the natural inner life or substance of the bread and wine is swept aside and replaced by the living vitality of Christ Himself — though the outward physical matter of bread and wine, remains unchanged. This Christ Life present in the Host enters each communicant, quickening his spiritual nature and making him for the time being a shining spiritual sun among men. Wherever the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, that radiance continues to shine over the world around, and may be called upon for help and blessing by anyone. Many feel this influence when entering a church where the Host is reserved.
The formation of this Church from its inception, the revision of its Liturgy, and redevelopment of its doctrine as to the nature of the Sacraments, were guided by careful clairvoyant study of the inner working of the Catholic Religion. Certain Theosophists — notably C. W. Leadbeater — had developed their latent powers of extrasensory perception and had been highly trained in their use while in India, —where such faculties have been known and studied for ages. The use of these faculties disclosed the realities underlying the practices of the Catholic Church and enabled scientific revision of the Eucharistic Rite to be undertaken, so as to produce a far more efficacious use of its potential in the service of God and man. The use of these faculties also confirmed the validity of the Liberal Catholic philosophy as expressed in the Church’s “Summary of Doctrine.”
The findings of the first investigators have been confirmed and elaborated by other trained clairvoyant researchers up to the present time. (References should be made to the monumental work The Science of the Sacraments by Bishop Leadbeater, noted in the appended bibliography.)
The government of the Church is hierarchical, but it is a government by the consent of the governed. Supreme authority in matters spiritual rests with the whole body of bishops acting as a college, known as the General Episcopal Synod. This includes the administration of the Sacraments, the promulgation of Liturgy and Ritual, Statement of Principles and Summary of Doctrine, and also the Canon Law. As far as practical all matters of business, finance and property are placed in the hands of elected representatives of the membership. The Synod operates under the chairmanship of its elected Presiding Bishop whose actions are always subject to its approval. New bishop are selected and consecrated by the Synod. Appointments of bishops to Provincial or Diocesan authority are made by the Synod with the approval of the subordinate clergy. Appointment of clergy to a parish is by mutual agreement between the parish and the responsible bishop. The Synod is the final court of appeal in all matters concerning the Church and its clergy.
(contains all forms of services, Epistles, Gospels, Collects and Festivals of the Church Year)
The Science of the Sacraments
by Bishop C.W. Leadbeater
The Apostolic Succession in the L.C.C.
by A.W. Cockerham.
The Statement of Principles and Summary of Doctrine of the L.C.C.
The Ceremonies of the Liberal Catholic Rite
(complete instructional handbook)
by Bishop I.S. Cooper
These and other publications, service books, etc. are available from
The St. Alban Press, whose catalog will be sent upon request. Please contact The Liberal Catholic Church.