The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of San Luigi
The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of San Luigi was in union with the Roman Catholic Church until 1929. Thereafter, it has been in partial or imperfect communion with the Holy See (see Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), 838 and 1271). It preserves the Catholic Faith and practice, and valid sacraments, but as a body faithful to the Tradition of the Church it is autocephalous and not under Papal jurisdiction.
The jurisdiction of San Luigi is consciously ecumenical. Throughout its latter history it has served as a demonstration of the unity of faith that is held between the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches, with elements of all three traditions being held in balance by the Prince-Abbots and latterly also Archbishops of San Luigi.
For the purposes of unity, the Western (Catholic) liturgical calendar is normative within the jurisdiction, although exceptions may be made to this rule where necessary.
The Catholicate of the West
The Catholicate of the West came into being as a union of the smaller sacramental churches in the United Kingdom in 1944 calling on the model of the nineteenth-century Catholic Apostolic Church (sometimes called “Irvingites”). It was initiated following the 1943 Council of London, which had been convened to discuss the response to the Syrian Orthodox Church repudiation of the Western successors of Prince-Abbot Joseph III of San Luigi. The Council concluded that the then-Syrian Patriarch should be deposed for schism and elected its own candidate in his place, who was designated as the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church. The resulting movement, embracing the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church and the Catholicate of the West, became the only indigenous representation of true Western Orthodoxy in Britain at that time.
The Catholicate under the leadership of Maran Mar Georgius (Hugh George de Willmott Newman) pursued a mission as an ecumenical federation of autonomous church bodies, achieving a wide international membership by the late 1940s. In 1950, it was incorporated in India. In 1953, Mar Georgius and several other members of clergy left the Catholicate, which continued to exist via its American representation. In 1977, the Catholicate was formally merged with the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and in 2015, the Prince-Abbot of San Luigi became both the primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and Prince-Catholicos of the Catholicate of the West, having served as a bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church since 2008.
Today, the Catholicate of the West is the federative ecumenical body under which the various churches and religious orders of the Abbey-Principality are organized.
Orthodox in Faith – Catholic in Practice – Anglican in Outlook
The faith of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi and the Catholicate of the West is most conveniently described under this term. It was succinctly defined by the first Catholicos, Maran Mar Georgius I, as follows:
The distinctive teachings of Orthodoxy may be briefly described as the Apostolic Faith, Traditions, Liturgy, Canons and Constitutions, acceptance of the Sacred Scriptures, the Creeds, and the Seven General Councils, together with the possession of the Apostolic Succession of Orders, and retention of the Seven Sacraments. Services are held in the native tongue (though not always the modern vernacular), the clergy are permitted to marry, and Holy Communion is administered in both Species. While strenuously fighting for and adhering to the deposit of faith and practice which has come down through the ages, Orthodoxy is yet tolerant and friendly towards all other Christians.
(Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 1, April 1944, p.4)
The sole change since the time of Mar Georgius is that the clergy are now permitted to marry either before or after ordination.
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