Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the background of the American National Catholic Church (ANCC)?

We were founded in 2009 as a contemporary expression of Catholicism.  We trace our independent lineage through Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Duarte-Costa of Brazil.

Bishop Duarte-­Costa was a prophetic herald of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In as early as 1936, he called for the celebration of the liturgy in the vernacular while facing the people, a greater role of the laity in the liturgy including as Eucharistic ministers, and reception of the Eucharist in both bread and wine.  His call for married clergy and general absolution has been realized in the ANCC.

We are absolutely committed to the implementation of the full vision of the Second Vatican Council, believing that the Council’s work and wisdom was a high water mark in the history of the Church.  We are heirs of that legacy, committed to its ongoing implementation.

We continue a rich tradition of grace-filled sacraments and a lived commitment to social action. In parishes and prisons, in hospitals and hospices, the ANCC is daily witnessing to the redeeming love of a welcoming God – a God whose love is beyond our wildest imagining.

Do you consider yourself Roman Catholic?   

No, the American National Catholic Church is a valid expression of Catholicism outside of the Roman Church and the Vatican.

How are you similar to the Roman church?

We share the following beliefs with the Roman Church:

  • Radical monotheism of God
  • Apostolic Succession
  • Scientific biblical-historical scholarship
  • Nicene Creed
  • Salvific Act of Christ
  • Economy (i.e., plan) of salvation
  • Ecclesiology
  • Marian theology
  • Sacraments

How are you unlike the Roman church?

We are radically different as follows:

  • Power/decision-making: congregational model
  • Bishop, elected (presiding model)
  • Priesthood, ordained (married/women/GLBT)
  • Full sacramental participation by all
  • GLBT, fully-inclusive; gay marriage
  • Family planning
  • Disagreement regarding the absolute authority of the Pope
  • Full implementation of Vatican II
  • Respect and value of individual conscience
  • Novus Ordo, Roman Missal, 2nd Edition

What is your position on other issues that often exclude people from the Roman Catholic Church?

Women Clergy: We embrace the wonderful gifts of women. While in Spring 2011, the Roman Church removed an Australian Bishop for daring to even entertain questions regarding women’s ordination, we welcome the movement of God in the ordained ministry of women.

Married Clergy: We welcome married clergy, knowing that their lived experience provides an invaluable gift for ministry. The Roman Church has forever closed the option of married clergy with its claim of divine intention and tradition.

Divorce and Remarriage: We empathize with the pain of a failed marriage and receive our divorced and remarried brothers and sisters as full members into our Church. The Roman Church maintains that marriage is indissoluble.

Family Planning: We support a couple’s decision regarding family planning, believing that they are in the best position to decide their most appropriate option. The Roman Church only permits natural family planning.

Gays and Lesbians: We affirm the dignity and worth of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, recognizing in them unique gifts particular to our time. We are honored to officiate at sacramental gay marriages. The Roman Church teaches that homosexuality is “objectively disordered” and all same-sex acts are sinful.

What is the formal education of your Bishop?

The Most Reverend George R. Lucey, FCM is the presiding bishop of the ANCC.  Bishop Lucey is a solemnly professed member of the Franciscan Community of Mercy.

Bishop Lucey received a Bachelor in Sacred Theology (S.T.B) and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Regis, the Jesuit Pontifical College at the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto.

He earned a Master of Education (M.Ed.) from Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH and a Doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D.) from Graduate Theological Foundation, Mishawaka, IN

Do you do a criminal background check of your clergy?

Absolutely.  Prior to beginning the ANCC application process, all potential applicants including seminarians, those seeking affiliation into our religious community, the Franciscan Community of Mercy, and those interested in incardination (i.e., those formerly ordained) undergo an extensive criminal background check.

Do you do any psychological testing of your clergy?

Yes.  An important part of our evaluation of all applicants is a comprehensive psychological assesment.

What type of education and experience do you require of your clergy? 

In a word, exhaustive.  We have a rigorous selection process in which only 2% of applicants are selected to study for the priesthood or for incardination into the ANCC.  All applicants must provide certificates of Baptism, Confirmation, and Ordination (if applicable), and certified copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts.

Applicants must complete an in-depth personal narrative, provide professional and personal references, and undergo extensive interviews with the vocations and formation staff. In addition, applicants must complete an ANCC retreat where they are evaluated.

All clergy must receive comprehensive training in theology.  Further, all ordained priests are required to successfully complete extensive supervised pastoral internships in addition to a minimum 12-month deaconate assignment.

For ordained Roman Catholic clergy wishing to incardinate, after successfully meeting all started requirements, there is a two-year discernment process before full incorporation into the ANCC.  On a case-by-case basis, temporary authorization to administer the sacraments (“faculties”) may be provided.

Our selection process is exacting and those we call to priesthood are among the most select.  The people of God are entitled to prayerful, educated, pastorally sensitive, and well-rounded priests.

Is your decision-making process hierarchical as in the current Roman church or collegial as suggested by Vatican II?

“Upon all the laity, therefore, rest the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all [persons] of each epoch and in every land  Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.” (Lumen Gentium #33)

Taking our lead from the wisdom of the Second Vatican Council, ANCC laity and clergy join together in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

We believe in a congregational or shared model of leadership where our parishioners join with locally-called clergy in discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church. This is decidedly different than the hierarchical, top-down model demanded by the Roman Catholic Church.

At the national level, the ANCC has an Executive Committee in which laity and clergy dialogue to provide essential guidance and leadership for the Church.   At the local level, parish councils provide the same level of leadership.

In addition, the financial control of the ANCC is in the hands of the laity.  All assets, including bank accounts, are both owned and controlled by the pastoral lay leadership. 
Are you a Roman or National Catholic?

Please answer the following questions by placing a check mark next to the statements you agree with.These questions are by no means a full review of the differences between the Roman Catholic and American National Catholic understanding of faith.There are many other questions that could be asked.But this is a sampling of your attitude to see if you are aligned with Roman Catholic or National Catholic thinking. Which do you more align yourself with?

National Catholic

_____I believe that the Pope is a great leader and teacher of the Church, but that in some of my decisions on faith and moral practice, I may differ with him.

_____I believe birth control is a private matter that couples should decide according to their own informed consciences.

_____I believe that divorce is often tragic, but not an unpardonable sin and that divorced people should be fully welcomed into the Church and its sacraments.

_____I believe that the laypeople of the Church should have some voice in the Church’s governance and that the clergy should have some accountability to their people.

_____I believe that priests should be free to marry.

_____I believe that non-Catholic Churches are not “defective” but rather are sincere expressions of Christian faith that do not share the traditions of the Catholic Church.

_____I believe that Holy Communion at Mass should be open to Christians who are not Catholic but are sincere people of faith.

_____I believe that Holy Communion at Mass should be offered to all who believe, not just for those who accept the Pope’s infallibility and authority.

_____I believe that sex should be within the context of marriage, but that mature adults in committed romantic relationships are not automatically sinners because of their sexual sharing.

_____I believe that gay and lesbian people are not “disordered” (even if I do not understand or relate to their sexual orientation).

Roman Catholic

_____I believe the Pope is infallible in all matters of faith and moral practice and that he has direct spiritual authority over me and all others.
_____I believe that artificial birth control is a sin even when used by married people.
_____I believe that divorce between two Catholics is wrong and that the Church should never recognize the divorce of a married Catholic couple.
_____I believe that only the Pope and Catholic bishops should have authority in the Church and that lay people should not share in its governance.
_____I believe that only celibate men should be priests.
_____I believe that non-Catholic Churches are defective and that their members are spiritually at risk because of this.
_____I believe that only Catholics should receive Holy Communion at Mass and that Protestants should not be allowed to receive communion at Catholic masses.
_____I believe Holy Communion at Mass should only be given to those who believe in the Pope’s infallibility and authority, and thus Protestants should be excluded.
_____I believe that sex between unmarried people is always a serious or mortal sin, and that even mature adults in committed romantic relationships are sinning if they have sex before marriage.
_____I believe that gay and lesbian people are “disordered.”