"In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland reaction amongst faithful
Catholics to the new Vatican decrees was swift. Entire parish communities refused to
accept the new decrees and joined together in common councils to reaffirm their faith in
the Scriptures and the authentic Catholic Tradition of the Church and to decide on their
"Under brilliant leadership, the movement rose to meet the
challenge of persecution and intimidation which its larger erring sister church of Rome
now leveled at it. Priests were cut off from their pensions unless they subscribed to the
new dogma of Papal Infallibility, which soon became known amongst them as the hunger
dogma. Boycott and social ostracism and even the arm of the state were employed by
the infuriated ultramontanists in their attempts to force the submission of the
recalcitrant Catholic population to their wishes. Against all this the conscientious faith
of thousands of earnest Christians stood firm.
"Though these Catholics preserved the faith as they had always
believed it, the question that was not fearfully evident to the bishopless flock was how
to continue the succession of this faith for unborn generations. It was necessary with the
establishment of the Old Catholic Church order and its independent government that a
bishop be chosen. But how could a legitimate bishop be obtained, since according to
Catholic conception, such a one could be consecrated only by another legitimate bishop?
"Here the River of History, which now and again flows wide only
to break off into different channels, now flowed together again. The Catholic Church of
Holland came to the aid of the Old Catholic Movement. From the time when the pope and the
Jesuits had first attempted to subjugate it, the Church of Holland had withstood her
trials through the years, firm in its position and preserving its sacred badge of
Apostleship in the legitimate Catholic succession of her bishops.
"The Dutch Archbishop Loos, in 1872, had helped the German Old
Catholics with confirmation and was willing to consecrate their bishop, but it was
necessary first for the movement to have the recognition of the state. Dr. von Schulte
applied to the Prussian Government and received Royal recognition, as a Catholic, for the
bishop to be elected, as well as a grant of 48,000 marks for the expenses of the bishop
and his administration. Old Catholicism, without this recognition of the state, would have
been, in the eyes of many European peoples, a sect, and it would have meant a renunciation
on the part of the Old Catholic movement of its legal standing and its right to the same
support which the Roman Church enjoyed if it had not sought this recognition. With this
accomplished, the delegates of the German congregations, both clerical and lay, in the
manner of the ancient Church in the chapel of the City Hall of Cologne June 4th, 1873,
unanimously elected Professor D. Reinkins, of Bonn, as their future Bishop. AsArchbishop
Loos had just died, Bishop Heykamp of Deventer, consecrated the first Old Catholic Bishop
"In Switzerland in 1876, Bishop Herzog was consecrated Bishop
of the Old Catholic Movement there. Thus the scattered fragments of Christ's Church were
gathered together. In time, the movement developed sufficiently in other parts of the
world to warrant the necessity of Episcopal supervision, and gradually the jealously
guarded Catholic Episcopate came to bless these faithful children of the Catholic Church
of Christ in increasing numbers everywhere.
"In Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Switzerland, France,
Yugoslavia, and Poland the movement grew and took root and Bishops were consecrated at
Utrecht, Holland, for almost all these countries.
"Out of the hard struggles of countless intrepid little bands
of Catholic priests and laymen, all the elements within the Church that rebelled against
the corruption of its faith and realized the original Christian Ideal of the one Flock of
Christ, were drawn together and, if at first in the shape of a small model only, assumed
the form of the ancient Church again.
"But the greater works of this small church were only now to
begin, even if its martyrs and saints, the progenitors in small numbers through the ages,
lay in eternal sleep. A new spiritual impetus, an evangelical Catholic spirit was to be
borne on the first winds of the twentieth century as they swept, first across Poland, then
through England, France, the Balkans, and thence to America, to bring a new sense of
spiritual freedom with the old and unchanging truths of Christianity -- born to set the
souls of all people free.