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Utah’s ‘Old Catholics’ embrace new movements
Religion » Faith sticks with liturgy, but opts for same-sex marriage, women priests.

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A time to come together » Even as a young Catholic growing up in New Haven, Conn., Seneco, now 46, always wanted to be a priest. But his high school guidance counselor discouraged that vocation, so he became an emergency medical technician instead.

At a glance

What they believe

Here are some statements of faith for the North American Old Catholic Church:

» We are a church that worships God by living our faith every day of the week, speaking out against injustice and praying for healing in the world by being active believers, committed to loving our neighbors.

» We are a Catholic tradition inspired by the works of science and the deepest mysteries of God. Our faith is for believers and skeptics alike, as we have been a sanctuary and refuge to those disaffected by mainstream traditions and politically distorted teachings of Christ for nearly two centuries.

» As the progressive Catholic tradition, we believe in ecumenical and interfaith collaboration as an essential way to build a more holistic and loving world in accordance with the Gospels.

» We are a tradition of faith and works, love and action, hope and spiritual transformation. ... No matter your personal or faith story, your questions or your hope, all are welcome.

Source: http://www.naoldcatholic.com/about/our-tradition/

Annual meeting

Ogden’s Glory to God Old Catholic Church, 375 Harrison Blvd., will host the group’s annual synod Aug. 3-5.

“Our congregation is honored and excited to be hosting the synod of our church,” Utah Bishop Jim Morgan said in a news release.

During the gathering, Morgan explained, bishops and lay leaders will consider policies, operations, initiatives and new projects. They also will ordain new deacons and priests.

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Still, the hankering for the church returned.

Finally, in the late 1990s, he found a magazine ad about the Old Catholics and sent away to learn more. He then took an online course, which led him to be ordained a priest in 2001. He became a bishop in 2006 and was elected presiding archbishop four years later.

Seneco currently leads two parishes, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel Old Catholic Church, which meets in and ministers to the patients and residents of Specialty Hospital of Washington on Capitol Hill.

As the church’s presiding bishop, Seneco oversees priestly vocations, the development of personal ministries and the implementation of directives from the executive committee and synod. He also has an extensive wedding registry, having officiated at more than 500 Old Catholic weddings.

Morgan, 67, also had priestly ambitions from his youth.

He enrolled at a Catholic high school in Texas, which was known as a "minor seminary." It was the first step toward being a priest. By the time Morgan entered a real seminary, though, he had recognized his sexual orientation and so withdrew from the program. From 1970 to 1996, he lived in Alaska, doing blue-collar work. He then moved to Utah to take the helm of the Metropolitan Community Church, which was a haven for Christian gays.

In 2000, Morgan was ordained a priest in the Independent Catholic Church, after earning a bachelor’s degree in theology from a Florida seminary through distance learning. He did that until 2004, when his MCC congregation voted to leave the denomination. That same year he became a bishop in the Independent Catholic Church, and many of his former congregants decided to join him. Last summer, Morgan joined the Old Catholic movement and created the Glory to God Old Catholic Church in Ogden.

These Old Catholic leaders believe the historic Catholic Church has taken a turn toward the political right, losing its relevance in contemporary American society.

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"The Knights of Columbus was founded to help widows and children," Seneco says. "Now most of their money goes into fighting gay marriage."

Jesus Christ was about love, he says. "The Bible is a love letter, not an institutional manual."

Where, he asks, is the love of God in this?



Twitter: @religiongal

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