The Constitution, the authorized Liturgy of the Church and the authorized Statement of Principles and Summary of Doctrine, constitute the official documents of The Liberal Catholic Church. Below is an abridged form of the Church’s Statement of Principles as well as the complete Summary of Doctrine.
The Liberal Catholic Church exists to forward Christ’s work in the world. The name Liberal Catholic was chosen because the Church’s outlook is liberal, in that acceptance of its teaching and doctrine is not obligatory. It is Catholic in the sense of being all embracing, and also because it allies itself with the historic Church as the source of its Holy Orders and of its sacramental tradition. From its inception, The Liberal Catholic Church has sought to combine Catholic forms of worship – stately ritual, deep mysticism and witness to the reality of sacramental grace – with the widest measure of intellectual liberty, and respect for the individual conscience.
The Liberal Catholic worldview emphasises the unity of all that lives, both seen and unseen, all moving forward together in a vast evolutionary scheme, initiated and guided with absolute love and absolute wisdom by the Supreme Deity, or God. Literally, “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). However little this may be outwardly apparent at our present stage of development, human beings are, in essence, divine.
Our Lord Christ is regarded not only as the founder and inward inspirer of Christianity, but also as the embodiment of that empowering influence which is behind everything that is good and nourishing in all of the great religions of the world. Accordingly The Liberal Catholic Church draws the inspiration for its work from the intense faith of its members in Him. It is confidently asserted that the vitality of a church gains in proportion as its members not only commemorate a Christ who lived two thousand years ago, but strive also to serve as a vehicle for the eternal Christ who lives ever as a mighty spiritual presence in the world, guiding and sustaining his people. It accepts the promises of Christ when on earth: ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the age’ (Matt. 28:20) and, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt: 18:20). It regards these promises as validating all Christian worship of whatever kind, as long as it is sincere.
The Liberal Catholic Church emphasises the value of corporate Christian life and worship. Christianity, as a system of ethics, philosophy and worship, enables us to express the love of Christ. In the power of this love, we develop that universal tolerance and concern for the well being of others, which is the cornerstone of a true religious life, and without which no system of social organisation can function properly. It leads us to recognise the inherent oneness of all life. We have ethical duties, not only to our fellow human beings, but also to all the realms of nature, which constitute our world environment. The true disciples of Christ are distinguished by their capacity for love and compassion, rather than any specific beliefs, which will inevitably change as they grow in wisdom.
It further holds that while the promise of His presence with individual believers is thus fulfilled, our Lord also appointed certain rites or sacraments (called ‘mysteries’ in the Eastern Church) for the greater helping of His people, to be handed down in His Church as special channels of His power and blessing. Through these means of grace He is ever present in His Church, giving to His people the privilege of fellowship and communion with Him, guiding and protecting them at every stage of life.
The Liberal Catholic Church leaves to its members freedom in the interpretation of Creeds, Scriptures and Traditions, and of its Liturgy and Doctrine. It asks only that differences of interpretation shall be courteously expressed. It takes this attitude, not from any indifference to truth, but because it holds that belief should be the result of individual study and intuition. Truth is not truth, nor revelation a revelation, until it is seen to be so. The inability to recognise a truth involves simply the loss of the help that such recognition would bring. As we grow into spirituality, so will we grow into the perception of truth. No mere lip profession or superficial assent of the mind can take the place of this growth. Surely the Christian religion is meant to be one of love and freedom, which should help people at their many different stages along the path of spiritual growth.
The Liberal Catholic Church considers therefore, that it acts in accordance with the spirit of its Master in welcoming gladly into its membership those who seek truth. It aims to help them to discover truth for themselves by providing opportunities for spiritual growth, that is, the realisation of each one’s divine potential. Whilst it presents certain doctrinal statements, it does not exact acceptance of any dogmatic standards. It asks of its members, as a working basis of fellowship, not a profession of common belief, but the willingness to worship together through a common ritual. It also asks of its members, sincerity, purity of motive, tolerance, breadth of mind, courtesy of expression, and, a constant pursuit of high ideals.