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In previous essays—here and in other blogs—we have explored the phenomena of the Autocephalous [1]or Independent Catholic Movement [2][3] therefore in the interest of not being redundant we will not offer the reader another explanation; but rather address one of the many issues that plagues the movement. In this particular exercise we will address the rather bizarre phenomenon of clergy belonging to multiple jurisdictions.

In today’s world a certain degree of fluidity exists in the greater religious landscape; just as Protestantism began with a schism in the Roman Church and resulted in two major divisions in Christianity, today we see schisms erupting in various denominations.   Just in the last few days—at the time of this writing—the United Methodists avoided a major schism over the question of full acceptance of rights for the LGBT community such as ordination and marriage, the Methodists tabled action pending further exploration of plans to accommodate both sides therefore avoiding schism. Likewise—in recent years—we have seen an exodus of priests from the Episcopal Church leaving to join Roman Catholicism or found traditional minded Anglican Churches over this same question surrounding the LGBT community.

Schisms in the Roman Church led to the formation of Independent Catholic jurisdictions and continuing schisms evolve in these groups leading to the establishment of even more autocephalous jurisdictions. Just as the Romans question the legitimacy of Independent Catholic jurisdictions and those in the Episcopal Church question the legitimacy of newly formed Anglican Rite churches, existing jurisdictions of the Independent Movement naturally question new organizations within the Independent movement. In my opinion, everyone—most everyone—feels that his church holds the ultimate truth and is the legitimate successor to the original church, and that everyone else is schismatic heretics especially those that has left his church.

Because of this phenomenon—interestingly enough—in the independent movement we sometimes find those that have pledged allegiance to multiple Bishops, most usually they do this to align themselves with several jurisdictions seeking assurance at least one of theses groups is legitimate. While in the United States we are free to do pretty much what we desire, this particular phenomena tear at the very legitimacy its participants seek to find.

Some of us in the independent Episcopacy try to be open to the Holy Spirit and accommodate those that come our way to appear to be sincere, penitent, and willing to serve God first and foremost then—as in ancient tradition— freely declare their allegiance by statement or vow to their Bishop/jurisdiction/order. Just as Jesus told us we must choose between God and money, serving only one master (Matthew 6:24) so a Priest must choose to be loyal to God and his order’s Bishop/superior thereby serving no other Bishop.

It would be unusual to find in a Protestant setting, a minister licensed (ordained) to serve in multiple denominations, likewise it appears unseemly for an Independent movement Priest or even a Bishop to pledge allegiance to multiple jurisdictions.   This simply denigrates any legitimacy an Independent jurisdiction might have; but nonetheless we sometimes find such unsavory characters as those that betray the trust of the Bishops that are willing to give them a chance in a display of Christian Brotherly Love and compassion.

Now with all that said, we occasionally find those that appear to follow multiple masters when we compare rolls of one jurisdiction against those membership rolls of another, but we also find that those who volunteer to serve as Web Masters for some jurisdictions are at times notoriously slow in updating membership lists.

We also find that in some cases it was the Bishop himself that maintained the Internet site directory of clergy—often on a free hosting service—and that said web site is now in limbo as the Bishop has passed away leaving no one to administer the site.

Taking the previous two observations into consideration we must be careful in accusing a Priest or Bishop as being members of multiple orders.

So if you are a clergy member of the independent movement and have sought out incarnation[4] in multiple jurisdictions, please take time to realize that this seemingly innocent attempt to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the world, in fact not only makes the Bishops and jurisdictions you have misled look silly, but makes you out to be the ultimate fool.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autocephaly

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Sacramental_Movement

[3] https://saintmichaelschapel.wordpress.com/about-2/what-are-you/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incardination_and_excardination