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A New Look For Catholicism! A "Lost" Religion Rears Its New and Modern Head From    an    image    standpoint,    the    hundred    thousand    or    so    "free,    old,    or    independent" cath olics   in   this   country   fall   between   the   proverbial   rock   and   hard   place.   Scorned by   hard   line   Protesta nts   because   of   the   "catholic"   word   and   snubbed   by   Roman Catholics    because    of    the    "old,    free,    independent"    word,    alternative    catholics have    nonetheless    quietly    survived    and    flourished    in    small    to    medium    sized communities throughout the nation. And   yet   non-Roman   Catholicism   is   one   of   the   oldest   rites   of   worship   in   the Christian   Church,   having   remained   relatively   steady   on   the   theological   course set   by   the   Apostles.   The   Roman   Catholics,   on   the   other   hand,   have   over   the centuries    veered    off    in    other    directions,    embellishing    their    Church    with    a variety   of   bells   and   whistles,   do’s   and   don’ts,   and   politically   motivated   twists and turns. It   was   in   the   12th   century,   well   before   the   Reformation,   that   some   catholics started    voicing    their    displeasure    with    the    Papal    System.    This    resulted    in    a perpetuation     of     alternative     catholic     theologies,     while     the     Roman     church evolved   in   other   directions.   Today,   alternative   catholicism   is   a   traditional   force, with   historical   theology   that   includes   such   ideals   as   sacraments   and   apostolic succession    but    foregoes    Papal    infallibility.    In    fact,    although    many    rites    and beliefs    are    shared    by    both    alternative    and    Roman    Catholics    due    to    their common   beginnings,   the   denominations   (or   jurisdictions)   are   not   connected   in any way. Enter   the   20th   Century,   with   the   Roman   Catholic   Church   attempting   to   deal with   social   concepts   and   lifestyles   that   were   totally   nonexistent   at   the   time   of the   Bible,   and   denying   the   fundamental   gifts   of   God   to   many   based   on   theology that    evolved    much    later.    Then,    add    to    the    equation    the    many    protestant denominations,   who   split   from   the   Roman   Church   but   carried   with   them   excess baggage   in   the   form   of   many   of   these   issues.   The   resulting   morass   of   confusion and   misinformation   accomplishes   exactly   what   Christ   and   the   early   church   did not want to do; denying the grace of God and the promise of salvation. Many   alternative   catholics,   an   accumulation   of   many   different   "branches"   or "denominations,"   each   under   an   independent   Archbishop,   do   not   have   these problems.   Being   in   essence   a   more   pure   form   of   the   Church   and   unadulterated by   politicking   and   manipulation,   they   simply   do   not   have   these   restrictions   in their structure. Also   central   to   many   non   Roman   catholics   is   the   understanding   that   the bible   can   never   be   fully   translated   from   its   original   language.   This   position   has, in   recent   times   also   been   taken   up   by   some   other   religions,   who   argue   that   no accurate    translation    is    possible    without    considering    historical    and    social context . The   reversion   to   11th   century   church   "status   quo"   ignores   many   of   modern religion’s   "do   not’s"   by   simply   not   considering   them   as   pertinent   to   the   original Church.   Thus,   there   is   no   proscribing   of   the   sacraments   to   a   divorcé   or   to   a woman   who   has   undergone   an   abortion.   There   is   no   interdiction   of   a   person because   of   his   or   her   sexual   orientation.   There   is,   in   most   cases,   no   problem with   ordaining   women   as   clergy,   or   in   clergy   being   married   or   having   to   remain celibate. "It    is    inconceivable    to    me,"    said    a    prominant    independent    priest,    "that people   can   take   faith   and   religion   as   matters   of   conscience,   and   then   subject themselves   to   contempt   and   intolerance   by   those   very   same   men   who   have   been destined    by    God    to    preach    His    unconditional    love."    He    adds,    "Many    people continue   to   worship   under   a   shroud   of   guilt,   made   to   feel   less   than   worthy   by those   who   pervert   the   intentions   of   Christ.   Their   suffering   and   torment   is   real, extreme,   and   totally   unnecessary.   We   must   strive   for   a   worship   environment that   celebrates   our   love   of   God,   the   knowledge   that   we   have   all   been   made   in God’s    image,    and    that    Christ’s    suffering    was    so    that    we    could    all    attain salvation ." This   is   the   ideal   that   we   at   Ascension   by   the   Sea   strive   for,   to   become   a spiritual home to a diverse and welcoming population. Come join our family!