Stances of Faiths on LGBTQ+ Issues: Old Catholics/Independent Catholics

Produced by the HRC Foundation

There are approximately 230,000 Catholics in the United States who associate with a denomination other than the Roman Catholic Church.


These Catholic churches, ranging from liberal to conservative in their theology and doctrine, consider themselves Old Catholics, a denomination that has been in place since the 1800s when it rejected the supremacy of the Roman episcopacy over other bishops; a point of view shared with others in the catholic (universal) tradition, such as Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Orthodox Christians.

The Old Catholic communities in the United States share in the historic apostolic succession as do the other churches within the catholic (universal) tradition as well as the same liturgical traditions. Many times, Old Catholics will also identify themselves as “Independent Catholic” only to distinguish themselves from their Roman cousins. Nevertheless, they are Old Catholic communities.


Much like the churches in the Anglican Communion, the Old Catholic churches in the United States may vary on their positions regarding LGBTQ+ persons. Some are not open and affirming nor do they support full LGBTQ+ equality. For example, the Old Catholic Communion of North America states, “We accept as true that homosexual practice is not a compatible lifestyle with either Scripture or Sacred Tradition and as such we will not participate in the legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions, nor will we ordain those who are involved in same gender unions."

Nevertheless, the larger Old Catholic communities, such as the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, the American Catholic Church, the American Apostolic Communion, the Independent Catholic Church of the West, the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America and the National Catholic Church of America support full LGBTQ+ equality in their congregations. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion, for example, states, “We are an open and affirming communion recognizing the value and dignity of every person, in our God given diversity. We promote the education and development of the People of God in their understanding of the diversity of sexual orientation among their brothers and sisters. All sexual relationships are to be guided by the Christian moral principles of love and fidelity. We uphold the ideal of committed relationships blessed by the sacred rites of the church. We believe that all questions of sexual morality are best addressed through pastoral care and counsel.”

The American Catholic Church states that it is “committed to providing the Sacrament of Matrimony to all couples who seriously seek it, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification.”

Open and Affirming Old Catholic Churches

American Apostolic Church
Catholic Apostolic Church in North America
Ecumenical Catholic Communion
American Catholic Church in the United States
American Catholic Church Diocese
National Catholic Church of America

Last revised: 8/9/2018
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