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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"  catholics in this country fall between the proverbial rock and hard place. Scorned by hard line Protestants 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!