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Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches 2016 Constitution Page 1
Constitution of the
Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches Table of Contents Preamble 2 Article I: Belief Statements and Affirmations of the Catholic Faith 4 Article II: Liturgy and Sacraments 11 Article III: Member Faith Communities 20 Article IV: Polity of the Communion 31 Article V: Guidelines for Ordination and Incardination 40 Article VI: Guidelines for the Selection of Bishops 43 Article VII: Guidelines for the Election of the Presiding Bishop 44 Article VIII: Amendments to the Constitution 47 Member Faith Communities for Synod 2016 48
Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches 2016 Constitution Page 2
Constitution of the
Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches Preamble The Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches, also referred to as Communion or We, is a Catholic religious association duly incorporated and is comprised of Members and Member Faith Communities from all nations as part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church subject to this Constitution. As Members of the Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches, we are People of God and hold that because all women and men are created in God's image and likeness and because the same divine teaching on how they should live is written in every human heart, all persons are to be treated with dignity and justice, each person having the same fundamental rights and responsibilities. In Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female (Gal 3:28), and therefore, all persons, regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, culture, or other demographic or class label, are to be treated with dignity and justice. Therefore, we are committed to welcoming all to the table of the Lord, particularly the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the displaced, and those that find themselves spiritually homeless because they have been rejected from their former spiritual home. We hold that by our faith in God through Jesus and our baptism with water and in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all Christians become "members of the Body of Christ," that is, the Church universal, and are committed to living out the Gospel proclaimed and lived by Jesus, we further hold that all Christians who ascribe to the catholic ministry of unity as historically exercised in union with the Bishop are members of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We profess our faith in the Christ through the ancient, yet living Catholic Tradition handed to us from the Apostles through many generations and hold that the Church's mission, grounded in the Gospel, is to proclaim and show forth Jesus' Good News of how to live a fully human life as images of God in individual and communal justice and love. We hold that the Church is to proclaim and make known through word and action the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people. We hereby avow the holy Gospel, the Catholic Apostolic Tradition, and this Constitution as the instruments of our governance and guidance for our ecclesial body and its Members and Member Faith Communities in our expression of Church.
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We stand open, with love and respect, to dialogue with those of other religious identities and faith traditions to promote individual and communal justice and love and to bring the Peace of Christ to the world.
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ARTICLE I: Belief Statements and Affirmations of the Catholic Faith 1.1. We establish these Belief Statements and Affirmations of the Catholic Faith which express the Revealed Truth entrusted to the Church by Christ and which are binding on all Members of the Communion. 1.2. Christ We believe in and affirm the faith of the ancient Christian Church: that the person of Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Christ, the Hope of Israel who has been revealed to us as the Son of God and who through his life, death, and resurrection brings salvation to the whole world. 1.3. Apostolic Succession - We have preserved our Catholic identity and apostolic succession through the Old Catholic, Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopal and Orthodox Churches, and hold that such apostolic succession is one essential aspect for the authentic transmittal of Catholic faith and its sacramental integrity. 1.4. Church We believe and affirm that the Church of Jesus Christ embodies all who follow Jesus and are joined in an indissoluble union with Christ and one another through baptism as the People of God and the Body of Christ. This Body of Christ is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic and is entrusted with continuing the saving work of Christ in the world through the proclamation of the Gospel and the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries which are the Sacraments. 1.5. Holy Spirit - We believe that the Holy Spirit speaks through all the voices of the Church: Laity, Clergy, and Bishops, in their separate yet interdependent roles as delineated herein. These voices all come together to speak as one voice at the Holy Synod as the sensus fidelium, which is essential to the synodal process. As in the early Church, we believe that all three voices of Laity, Clergy, and Bishops must be involved in the election of our bishops and continue to maintain this ancient practice in the Communion and its Member Faith Communities. 1.6. Scripture We believe and affirm the Sacred Scriptures that have been handed on to us through the Apostolic Tradition and are held in common with the historic Catholic Church, including the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. We affirm that these Sacred Scriptures are truly inspired by the human encounter with the Divine in history and are both reliable and authoritative in matters of faith and practice. 1.7. Sacraments We believe and affirm that the Church in her very nature is Sacramental. Therefore, the work of the Church is essentially understood as a Sacramental Ministry. We believe, affirm and acknowledge that the Sacraments of the Church are Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of
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the Sick, Marriage, and Holy Orders. The Sacraments are grace-filled encounters with the Divine. Through our participation in the celebration of these Sacraments we are renewed by the saving presence of the Resurrected Christ. Therefore, we believe and affirm that the Sacraments of the Church are requisite for an authentic and essential Catholic faith and practice. 1.8. Creed We believe and affirm the Nicene, Athanasian and Apostles Creeds as true and faithful foundational statements of the Catholic faith. These contain the basic Trinitarian and Christological dogmas to which these creeds testify and we accept. That is, we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is true God and true man, and that God is authentically identified in the Trinitarian designation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, these foundational creedal statements are to be understood and taught in the expression of each age, in order that each generation may understand and fully believe their truth. 1.9. Synodal Catholic Governance and Tradition The supreme law of the Church is the Law of God, revealed in the person and teaching of Jesus the Christ, the Incarnate Son of God; through the Holy Scriptures; and in the Apostolic Tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
A. We affirm the Catholic Tradition of Synodal governance as expressed in the Trinitarian ecclesiology and polity of the Communion. Synodal governance includes the participation of all three voices of laity, clergy, and bishops in the governance of the church in accordance with their respective roles as delineated herein. We adhere to the principle in essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, and in all things charity. We affirm that the essentials of our Catholic faith are defined under this Constitution as essential to our unity and that no Member Faith Community, Bishop, Ordinary, or Jurisdiction may change, alter, or disregard any of these provisions.
1.10. Ecumenism and other historic catholic churches - Consistent with Tradition, we affirm the Bishop of Rome as "first among equals" without the later innovations of both universal jurisdiction and the infallibility of the office of the See of Peter. We respect our sisters and brothers of other catholic faith denominations, such as the Roman Communion, Orthodoxy, the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church, and the Old Catholic Churches, and pledge to work to bring ourselves closer to each other in the Love of Christ through ecumenical work. 1.11. Apostolic Tradition - The Apostolic Tradition is the deposit of Christian faith, celebration, and spiritual practice that comes from the Apostles of Jesus as articulated in the Epistle 3 of St. Jude: the faith that was once and for all handed
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down and delivered to the people of God. The Apostolic Tradition is understood as the foundation of Christian faith and sacramental life, which is then developed through each generation by the work of the Holy Spirit as the Church builds upon what has come before in the life of the universal church.
A. We believe that the Apostolic Tradition, the unbroken transmission, both oral and in writing, of the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, are the authoritative sources for educating all successive generations of Christians. The Apostolic Tradition is partly to be found in the Creeds, in the consensus of th