Celtic Orthodox Church
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The Celtic Orthodox Church (COC) is a small
The Ancient British Church was canonically established with the consecration of Mar Julius (
However, as an autocephalous church, the Celtic Orthodox Church is not subject to the Syriac Orthodox Church or tied to its doctrinal position.
The Celtic Orthodox Church is not an Oriental Orthodox church and is not monophysite, but upholds the doctrine that the one Person of Christ has two Natures. Its position with regard to the Ecumenical Councils might best be described as Pro-Chalcedonian, that is to say it accepts the teaching of all seven councils, but acknowledges that only the first three were truly ecumenical.
In 1866, with the sanction of Patriarch Ignatius Ya'qub (Jacob) II of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, Mar Julius (Jules Ferrette) was consecrated by Mar Boutros ibn Salmo Mesko) who later became Patriarch Mor
An early leader was
On 2 November 1897, three jurisdictions merged to form the
The patriarch of the Ancient British Church and the primus of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church then coincided in Stevens and his successors until 18 May 1939 when Bishop Monzani-Heard appointed William Hall as primus of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church, but retained the role of patriarch.
On 23 March 1944, a deed of declaration under Monzani-Heard united the Ancient British Church, the Old Catholic Orthodox Church, the British Orthodox Catholic Church and the Independent Catholic Church into a single organization, to be called the "Catholicate of the West". On 28 March 1944,
At Christmas 1944, the newly formed Catholicate resolved to bring its ministry, organization, usages and worship into general agreement with the pattern and model of the Catholic Apostolic Church, and the catholicate adopted the new name "Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West)" with a sub-title "Western Orthodox Catholic Church". The liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church was adopted, with a supplement. However, the Catholicate was fairly short-lived and was dissolved in 1953.
On 29 January 1945, Monzani-Heard resigned the office of British patriarch to Newman. An attempt was made in 1959 to revive the Catholicate of the West but this did not survive beyond January 1969.
The following are the patriarchs in succession:
In 1994, Abba (Mar) Seraphim, following negotiations with Pope Shenouda III, took the UK branch of the Catholic Apostolic Church into union with the Coptic (Oriental) Orthodox Church, taking the name
The Breton members of the Catholic Apostolic Church, who, under Bishop-Abbot Mael, had been made party to the negotiations with the Coptic Church, decided against joining in the 1994 alliance with the Copts, considering that their mission to promote and develop Western Orthodoxy was better served in its independence.
Interestingly, BOC's alliance with the Coptic Church continued for 21 years until October 2015, at which time the BOC withdrew from the alliance, considering that in the light of changed circumstances its objective would now be better served by its independence.
Accordingly, the remaining bishops of the Holy Synod elected Mgr Mael (Paul-Eduard de Fournier de Brescia), consecrated in 1980 by Mar Seraphim, to be primate of the former French eparchy, assuming the name L'Église Orthodoxe Celtique (the Celtic Orthodox Church – officially the Celtic Apostolic Church) to indicate that its jurisdiction covered the area of the former Celtic missions.
In 2014, following the death of HB Metropolitan Mael, Mgr Marc (Jean-Claude Scheerens), consecrated in 1998 by Mgr Mael, was enthroned as primate of the Celtic Orthodox Church, having been elected by the Holy Synod.
When, in 1998, some of the UK clergy who had followed Abba Seraphim into the Coptic Patriarchate subsequently asked to join the Celtic Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Mael received them and the Celtic Orthodox Church in Britain was given the status of an eparchy or province.
In 1999, a new bishop/eparch, Stephen Robson, was elected and consecrated for Britain; he had been one of the British priests who had chosen to leave the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.
In early 2007, the administration of the British eparchy came under the direct care of the primate when Bishop Stephen resigned.