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Caveman wrote:

Hi, guys —

My mother asked me to find some information. I don't belong to any religion and have no interest either but she is Catholic and wanted to know:

  • How were various Catholic groups formed, whether they were or were not the result of a papacy schism?
  • Were the separate groups formed after the split?

I looked up papacy schism but nothing talks about the different groups.

  • Is there a site you know of that can give me this information?

I have no idea.


  { How were these Catholic groups formed in the Church? }

Mike replied:

Dear Caveman,

Most groups that form in the Church are as a result of a calling by a particular individual or group of individuals.

This is normal as everyone in the Church is called to serve the Church in a unique way. In doing so, they are serving Jesus' Church.

The biggest problem to groups that follow a calling, is pride gets in their way. Once that group thinks they know more than the Pope or that [he or they] know more than everyone else, it can tend to have Gnostic tendencies, meaning that only that group has a special knowledge which the rest of the Church, including the Pope, doesn't have.

Many Catholic groups start off great, but with time, a little pride seeps in and they go to the far left, or the far right, right outside the Church. The result is, they put themselves in schism.

The good news is that the Vatican is reporting that certain groups that were once in schism with the Catholic Church are now considering reuniting with her. e.g. SSPX.

In my opinion, a Catholic group that remains grounded and humble will always survive while those that grow prideful will spiritually die.

You said:
How were various Catholic groups formed, whether they were or were not the result of a papacy schism?

No valid Catholic group can grow from a papal schism. The papacy is at the heart of being a Catholic. Those that call themselves Catholic yet reject the papacy are not Catholic, in heart.

If you are unsure whether a group is in good standing with the Church or not, ask your local bishop.

Hope this helps,


Caveman replied:

Hi, Mike —

Thanks for the reply but I should have been more specific. She wanted to know how various Catholic groups were originally formed in history. How the initial separation started to form other groups would be another part of the question.

This would be historical information on how the different Catholic groups were formed.


Mike replied:

Thanks for the reply Caveman,

Catholic groups recognized by the Church ideally start with an appointment with the local pastor followed by an appointment with the local bishop. The same would be true for any Catholic group down through history. In these appointments, they can talk over their mission and purpose and how they plan to serve the local diocese.

Our group was initiated by the interest of the former Cardinal of Boston, Cardinal Law, and the former director of Evangelization, David Thorpe, RIP, to look into bringing Catholic Apologetics,
a field of Christian theology that presents a rational basis for the Christian faith (1 Peter 3:15), into Catholic parishes within the archdiocese.

You said:
How the initial separation started to form other groups would be another part of the question.

Schism is a grave sin and is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him. The root of any separation of a Catholic group from the Church always starts with personal sin.

In your original question you said you didn't have any interest in religion but in order to understand my last statement, you have to at least understand what sin is. This may help:

I. Where Sin Abounded, Grace Abounded All The More - The reality of sin

If you wanted great detail, I'm afraid I can't help because it's not part of our mission and we don't do other people's research or homework.


Richard replied:

Hi, Mike —

Maybe it would help if the questioner would mention an example of the Catholic groups he's talking about.

He might be thinking of the traditionalist groups that rebelled against the Church starting in the 1970s. As Mike mentioned, there are efforts underway to bring the largest group of them
(the SSPX) back into unity with the Church.

Or he might be thinking of denominations that arose in earlier centuries. Some of them have a stronger resemblance to the Church or even call themselves "catholic", some not so much.

On this subject I can recommend a good book, "Separated Brethren" by William Whalen.

It presents interesting descriptions of the major religious bodies in the US, and you can probably find a copy through an inter-library loan, or from an on-line bookseller.

— RC

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