THE LEGACY OF THE
INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC CHURCH INTERNATIONAL
AND THE
FORMER ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF THE SOUTHWEST

Part of the Heritage of the Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Catholicate
and Imperial Roman Church.


 Released by St. George Seminary Press in 2023, Journey of Faith: The Apostolic See of Saints Stephen and Mark, by Rutherford I is a history of the present See and its people - those who went before us, laying the groundwork over the last decades and past centuries, and those who keep the faith today. 


Among the most important historical elements that the Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Catholicate succeeds is the Independent Catholic Church International. That Patriarchal and Apostolic See was formed in 1981 as the unification of various Old Catholic and traditional Anglican churches and also brought them together with significant Apostolic lineage of and affiliation with the Eastern Rite Christian Churches. It was led first by H.E. Most Rev. Peter Wayne Goodrich as Primate. Then H.E. Most Rev. Robert Vincent Bernard Dawe, previously the church's international legate, became Primate in 1983. Several churches around the world today are in the Apostolic Succession via the Independent Catholic Church International. 

Among those Apostolic descendants is the Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Catholicate, the senior jurisdiction of the Imperial Roman Church. It realises the dream of unified western-eastern Christianity envisioned by Archbishop Dawe and other predecessors and maintains its own distinct liturgy built upon the 1600-year-old Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom with elements of the Roman Tridentine Rite. In addition, the Catholicate maintains several important documents and records of the late Archbishop Dawe in its Pontifical Apostolic Library. 

Additionally, even though it is not formally a member of other ecclesiasl bodies, the Catholicate and entire Imperial Roman Church has historical communion and shared heritage with the Anglican Communion and the Philippine Independent Church (also known as the Philippine Independent Catholic Church) via the historic First Chair of the Catholicate and Anglican Patriarchate, as Bishop of the Southwest, located at St. Chad's Cathedral. Both are in turn in communion with the Old Catholic See of Utrecht

His Grace H. Edwin Caudill was consecrated by Macario V. Ga, Supreme Pontiff (Bishop) of the Philippine Independent Church, and Bishops Frank Benning and John Hamers. 21 October 1993, Holy Cross Polish National Catholic Church, Brooklyn, New York. The remnants of his See, the Diocese of the Southwest, after suffering a schism, became part of the Apostolic Communion of Anglican Churches in 2008. This included the Very Rev. Dean John Mark Vornholt, who returned in 2009, recognizing it as the authentic continuation of the Diocese of the Southwest in which he had previously served under Bishop Caudill. The new Bishop of the Southwest was the Vicar-General of the Apostolic Communion of Anglican Churches. He was subsequently succeeded by H.H. Papa Rutherford I (then Archbishop Johnson), at which point it became a Metropolitan See. Thereafter its territorial boundaries changed as it became the Coadjutorship of Rome and Apostolic See of the Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Catholicate and Anglican Patriarchate of Rome.


Bishop Caudill at a commencement ceremony of St. George Theological Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, (renamed Pontifical Georgian College).


Very Rev. Dean John Mark Vornholt (1934-2010)
Dean to the Metropolitan of the Southwest

The following is one of several pastoral letters contributed by Dean Vornholt while serving as Dean to the Metropolitan of the Southwest (then-Archbishop Johnson). These letters were published under the title of "Papa Doc's Ponderings." (One of the Dean's former parishioners called him "Papa John," and when he earned a doctorate, he began calling him "Papa Doc.") The letters had a certain colloquial style that nevertheless was filled with meaning. 

Papa Doc's Ponderings

CLERICAL CHOLER


The world will little note nor long remember, but Sunday morning only one of two retired priests attending nondenominational First Evangelical Church in Memphis wore clericals. Fr. Robertson Eppes, a longtime friend and former rector of All Saints, Memphis, did. I didn’t as I occupied a pew next to my wife, kids and grandkids (my son-in-law, in fact, is an elder and my daughter leads a Bible study)

First Evan has long welcomed me. I officiated at my daughter’s marriage there, using the 1928 BCP. A former pastor, Ronnie Stevens, used to joke that seeing Rob+ and I in the congregation was good advertising. His successor, Howard Clark, allowed Anglican Common Cause to use the fellowship hall for a regional assembly.

So my rationale in wearing civvies had nothing to do with First Evan but a lot to do with what’s been happening in The Episcopal Church (formerly known as PECUSA) and in the Diocese of West Tennessee in particular.

Prior to ordination I had a long and honorable history in the Diocese of Tennessee and its successor, having served at St. Andrew’s, Harriman, as senior warden, lay reader and delegate to convention; St. Michael’s, Knoxville, during a year of graduate school at UTK; Christ Church, Chattanooga, during a year as visiting professor at UTC (a much more conservative +Don Johnson was then rector); and, eventually, Good Shepherd, Memphis, as vestryman and convention delegate.

Looking back, I see a common thread—these were all either Anglo-Catholic or Prayer Book Catholic parishes largely isolated from PECUSA’s creeping national liberalism. Bishops tended to leave them alone....

Then in 1987, through a chance (miraculous?) reconnection with +Ed Caudill, under whom I read for Holy Orders more than 20 years earlier in the Diocese of Oklahoma, I completed the canonical exams and was ordained deacon and priest in the Anglican Diocese of the Southwest, a Continuing Church body in which he had been made Bishop Ordinary following his consecration in the undisputed Chambers/ Denver succession.

Yesterday I decided I didn’t want to answer any more questions from First Evan’ers who identified me with the Diocese of West Tennessee and its policies/polity. It seemed too much like guilt by association.... So I wore civvies there for the first time in more than 20 years, and will continue to do so.

Strangely I’m reminded about somewhat similar confusion a half-century when my late mother mentioned, “I see where some offshoot of your church is talking about merging with mine” (she was then a United Methodist and growing up and serving as a pastor’s wife in the old Evangelical & Reformed Church).

I had a hard time explaining to her that St. Matthew’s, Bloomington, IL, was in fact a parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church. “Ach, no,” she said, referring to the smells and bells, confessional booth and other appurtenances common in the Biretta Belt of the upper Midwest, in which Nashotah House was referred to as “The One True Seminary of the Church” (all one word).

So there you have it, for what it’s worth! “Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders “ as Luther said—“Here I stand, I can do no other.” 

Part of the page for Papa Doc's Pondering on the original website of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of the Southwest.

Upon the death of Dean Vornholt in 2010, Papa Rutherford I (then-Archbishop Johnson) gave the following statement: 

Memorial Letter from the Metropolitan

Dear Brethren,

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of the Very Reverend John Vornholt, Dean Emeritus of the Archdiocese of the Southwest and my adviser. He was not only a true priest who saw, believed, and understood the real mission of the clergy, he was a devoted family man and kind gentleman with his own unique humor. This you can see in his periodic writings known as "Papa Doc's Ponderings."

Dean Vornholt was, earlier in the history of the Archdiocese, Dean of the St. George Theological Seminary. In more recent times, he helped us greatly in our period of great renewal. Indeed, I credit a large portion of our success to his advice and support.

Though retired, he recently told me that if his health were better, he was again motivated to start a new parish. It was a great compliment to the wonderful things happening in the Archdiocese, and I hope he truly understood that those wonderful things were thanks in large part to him. It is quite sad that he was too sick to start that parish.

Dean Vornholt's illness was no secret to his family and friends, and to those of us who worked closely with him in the church. Yet, he kept on, doing what he could to help our revival and growth. On the academic front, our seminary launched a new academic journal, with him as Editor-in-Chief. The list of his good work even in his last years is impressive.

Many prayers and masses were said for his recovery. Yet, we do not seek ever to bend the outcome to our will, but rather yield to the will of God. The Almighty Father chose to call home his ever-faithful servant and devoted priest. We now pray for the repose of his soul. He will be sorely missed, but we look forward to a heavenly reunion.

Requiescat in Pace,
+Rutherford Johnson 
Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Southwest

The Stephenian Archives (the archives of the Apostolic See of the Imperial Roman Church) and the Pontifical Apostolic Library maintain extensive records pertaining to the history of the former Anglican Diocese of the Southwest, the Philippine Independent Catholic Church, and the Independent Catholic Church International and their relationship to the modern Imperial Roman Church (Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Catholicate and Anglican Patriarchate of Rome). Just a few of those documents, excerpts, and fragments are provided by the Pontifical Apostolic Library below in the interest of preservation of history and the legacy of the Imperial Roman Church. 


Attestation of communion with the Anglican Communion
via the First Chair of the Catholicate (Anglican Diocese of the Southwest).


Document of consecration from the Philippine Independent Catholic Church.


Letter from Archbishop Dawe regarding the Synod of the
Independent Catholic Church International and the
election of its Primate.


Excerpt from an appointment letter signed by
Archbishop Dawe.


Letter acknowledging affiliation with the Episcopal Synod of America
on the Diocese of the Southwest (later the Coadjutorship of Rome in the Imperial Roman Church) under Bishop H. Edwin Caudill


Letter from Bishop H. Edwin Caudill to his clergy


Letter from the Very Reverend John Vornholt, here as Curate of
the Parish of the Nativity, later as Dean to the Metropolitan
Archbishop of the Southwest (later H.H. Rutherford I)


Handwritten letter from Bishop H. Edwin Caudill to
one of his priests.

The Old Roman Catholic Apostolic heritage of the Catholicate also historically enjoyed an intercommunion with the ancient Orthodox Patriarchal Sees of Antioch and Alexandria, the first See of the Apostle Peter and the second See of the Apostle Mark respectively. These agreements were achieved by Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew. The intercommunion with Antioch was signed on 5 August 1911, and the intercommunion with Alexandria was signed the following year. 


 Photius, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria

The following is the text of a letter to Archbishop Mathew on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Gregory IV:

Monseigneur,
 
Colleague and brother in Jesus Christ, with open arms in the love of the Savior, I receive you among us, and I accept your oath of fidelity to His Beatitude the Orthodox Patriarch and his Holy Synod of Antioch, since those who hold our Faith and wish to be united with us have never been prevented from joining us. Praying God to bless you, and not only you but all those who come to us with you, we bless you in the name of His Beatitude the Patriarch and of the Holy Synod of Antioch.

Your Colleague and Brother in Jesus Christ,

GERASSIMOS MESSARRA,
Prince Archbishop and Metropolitan,
Orthodox Church of Beirut
5th Aug. 1911


L-R: Archdeacon Anthony Baehir, Metropolitan Gerassimos Messarra, and Archimandrite V. Abouasly


Patriarch Gregory IV of Antioch

These agreements in practical terms have lapsed, but they have never been rescinded. They remain an important and valued part of the heritage of the Catholicate, Anglican Patriarchate of Rome, and the entire Imperial Roman Church. Combined with other historic agreements, they solidify the historic and current canonical status of the Imperial Roman Church.

See also the Yugoslavian legacy of the Church.

Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Rite
Pontifical Orthodox Old Catholicism
The website of the Catholicate
Anglican Patriarchate of Rome


The Stato Pontificio Romano constitutes an ecclesiastical sovereignty by right of Rome as heir to the Roman Empire with an independent government in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (as the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church). Additionally, the church descends from the See of Utrecht, which was granted autonomy in 1145 by Pope Eugene III and confirmed in 1520 by Pope St. Leo X in the Bull Debitum Pastoralis. As the sole successor of Pope St. Leo X and temporal successor of St. Peter the Apostle, the Catholicate and Patriarchate are fully Catholic and holds the same canonical authority as the Roman Communion (Vatican). The Catholicate and Patriarchate are the ecclesiastical successor to temporal Rome, the temporal patrimony of the Roman Empire claimed historically by right of the papacy. The succession passed to the Catholicate after Benedict XVI by right of Rome and Florence, with the Papa-Catholicos of Rome-Ruthenia with papal authority as temporal successor of St. Peter, and the Pope-Bishop of Rome as spiritual successor of St. Peter and de facto sovereign of the Vatican City-State. Although administratively independent, the Apostolic See embraces as brethren other Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican bodies, such as the current Roman Communion (commonly referred to as the Roman Catholic Church), the Anglican Ordinariate, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Anglican Communion. The Imperial Roman Church is defined as the Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Catholicate, the Anglican Patriarchate of Rome, and the churches of all Bishops recognised by the Catholicate. The governments of the modern republics of Italy, German, France, Switzerland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the United States, and of the modern kingdoms of Great Britain and Spain, as well as the European Union and all other civil states, are not affiliated with the Stato Pontificio government in exile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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