|Liberal Catholic Church
Diocese of Arizona
Welcome to All
|“Who needs the Liberal Catholic Church?”
Welcome! I’m The Most Reverend Bennett D. D. Burke, bishop of the Liberal Catholic Diocese of Arizona. In December 1996,
we celebrated our first Holy Eucharist at St. Michael and All Angels in Casa Grande, Arizona, a town of about 25,000 people.
Since then, St. Michael’s has grown to a parish of nearly two hundred souls. Now, we’ve founded our second mission in the
state – Our Lady of Peace and Hope in Tucson.
Thanks for your interest in progressive Christianity and the independent Catholic movement Let me tell you a little about who
we are, what we do, and how you can participate.
The Liberal Catholic Church International exists to forward the work of her Master, Jesus Christ, and to feed his flock. We
draw our central inspiration from faith in an eternal Christ, who lives now and forever as a mighty spiritual Presence in the
world, guiding and sustaining all His children, without barriers based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender or gender
identity, sexual orientation, marital status, economic status, age, disability, theological viewpoint, familial status, or issues of
We’re an independent and self-governing body - neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant – but Catholic. We trace our apostolic
succession to the Old Catholic Church of Holland, through a complete reorganization in 1916 of the Old Catholic movement in
Today, the Liberal Catholic Church combines the traditional sacramental form of worship – stately ritual, deep mysticism, an
abiding witness to the reality of sacramental grace – with the widest measure of intellectual liberty and respect for the individual
conscience. The Liberal Catholic Church is a modern Christian denomination; we believe that religion should keep pace with the
best in human growth and enlightenment. The Liberal Catholic Church is also traditional; we believe that, through administering
Catholic sacraments to all, we continue to be stewards of a precious heritage handed down from Christ Himself.
For more than a decade, we’ve welcomed people from all walks of life, in all conditions and situations, to our altars.
Throughout that time, we’ve asked ourselves this question - “Who needs the Liberal Catholic Church?” Here are some of
the answers we’ve heard from our members:
People seeking traditional Catholic worship and sacraments.
The Liberal Catholic Church is theologically progressive, but traditional in worship. The Liberal Catholic Mass preserves an
ancient and stately ritual, which includes the trappings of pre-Vatican II liturgy, but in English, not Latin. The Liberal Catholic
Church offers the seven Catholic sacraments – Baptism, Confession and Absolution, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage,
Holy Orders and Holy Unction (healing) – to everyone.
Babies, children, teens and adults who have been denied baptism in other churches.
Soon after we made our presence known in Arizona, we got calls from people asking if we’d baptize their children. Here are
some of the reasons I’ve been told, personally, that other churches have refused to baptize them: the parents of the child are not
married, or married only in a civil ceremony; the parents have not received all of their sacraments; the godparents are not
married, are not married to each other, were not married in a church ceremony; the godparents are too young to offer good
religious education; the godparents are too old; the parents are too new to the parish; the parents have not donated enough
money to the church.
When families ask about our requirements for baptism, here’s our answer – if you have a child who hasn’t been baptized, you’ve
met our requirements. These families need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Those for whom weekly aural Confession doesn’t make sense.
Our parishioners appreciate having the Confiteor included in the Mass, not as a separate event. We remind visitors to Mass that
they need not feel they can’t take Communion if they haven’t been to Confession lately – they just went to Confession at the
beginning of Mass! We also suggest they save private, aural confession for the “big-ticket” items, not the everyday run-of-the-
mill “I said a bad word in traffic the other day” kind of sins. Modern Americans, familiar with the need for appropriate
reflection and correction, but also aware of the value of high self-esteem, need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Children and others who have never received their First Holy Communion,
or those who can’t “qualify” for First Holy Communion in another church.
We’ve prepared children for this sacrament whose families can’t afford First Holy Communion class fees in other churches.
We’ve prepared children with learning disabilities, who have been denied First Holy Communion in other churches because they
weren’t capable of memorizing their prayers. Children who haven’t yet experienced the mystery of faith contained in the Body
and Blood of Christ need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Divorced and remarried adults.
Staying in an irreconcilably bad marriage isn’t good for anyone. But divorced Catholics often don’t understand having to make a
choice between marrying again, and being welcome to receive Holy Communion on Sunday. In the Liberal Catholic Church,
there’s no need to make such a choice. I think every one of our members who have been divorced and remarried would have a
quick and happy answer to “who needs the Liberal Catholic Church.”
Those denied marriage in another church.
Those contemplating “mixed marriages,” those who have not received all their sacraments prior to marriage, those turned off by
written promises to raise their children in a particular faith – these couples need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Those who seek God’s blessing for same-sex unions.
Liberal Catholic Clergy can’t “marry” same-sex couples, unless that marriage would be legal in their jurisdiction (it wouldn’t be
legal in Arizona). But the Liberal Catholic Diocese of Arizona offers a same-sex blessing ceremony, patterned after the Liberal
Catholic wedding ceremony. People who want God’s blessing for a same-sex union, offered in a spiritual and religious
ceremony, need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Men – and women – who seek Holy Orders.
Priests in the Liberal Catholic Church are male and female, gay and straight, married and celibate, and all are self-supporting.
No member of clergy in the Diocese of Arizona gets paid by the church, but instead support themselves and their families
through secular employment. People with families (families of many kinds), and a call to serve God in this special way, need the
Liberal Catholic Church.
Those in need of healing grace.
People need the Liberal Catholic Church coming into this world, when they’re sick in body and soul, and at the end of life.
Anyone looking for healing grace needs the Liberal Catholic Church.
Those who struggle with “end of life” issues.
More and more people are becoming concerned about control over their own bodies – especially the control of pain and
suffering associated with end of life. Many people have become increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of burial,
and the more earth-friendly technique of cremation. These people need counsel and support, not condemnation. These people
need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, the trans-gendered.
Here’s what Christ had to say about homosexuality or alternate gender-identities . . .
. . .
. . . that’s right – nothing. Here’s what he said a lot about – love, acceptance, reaching out to those pushed to the margins of
society due to fear, prejudice and bigotry. Anyone identifying as LGBT, who wants to remain or become Catholic, needs the
Liberal Catholic Church.
Young women interested in celebrating a “Quinceanera.”
At the age of fifteen, Latinas and their families often desire to recognize this passage from childhood to adulthood in a spiritual
way. A “Quinceanera,” or fifteenth-birthday celebration, celebrates this transition in a ceremony that actually goes back to the
Aztecs. In the Liberal Catholic Church, we put our young women through an intense period of personal preparation, designed
to expand their awareness of adult roles and responsibilities, before agreeing to celebrate this passage. But many other
churches, which had long participated in this cultural tradition, have stopped offering them. Young women and their families
who can’t find another church to celebrate this ancient tradition need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Those who believe in modern medical care, particularly for family planning.
Q: What do you call people who use the “rhythm” method of birth control? A: Parents! In today’s America, and increasingly
around the world, women and their partners, from all religions and walks of life, are demanding control of their reproductive
cycles and organs. They’re also demanding the best that modern medicine has to offer to help them with this control. Families
struggling with family-planning issues – particularly those who have been taught that their safe and medically-sound choices are
sinful – need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Everyone who seeks an honest and open faith.
You’ll never find a church where all of her members agree with their pastor or church leaders all of the time. You’ll never find a
church where all of her members agree with all of the principles and practices upon which that church is founded. You’ll never
find a church where all of her members interpret the Bible exactly the same way, or hold the same political views, or all vote for
the same candidates or issues. You will find many, many churches that expect those with different or minority opinions to
change them, or at least to keep silent about them. Some people even go as far as hiding their marital status, sexual orientation,
past history, or current values from their priests or ministers, in order to be welcomed at the altar for Holy Communion. In the
Liberal Catholic Church, we focus on common worship, not common belief. People who want to be welcome to receive the
Body and Blood of Christ - and be welcome just as they are – these people need the Liberal Catholic Church.
People with families and friends of other faiths.
My own family and circle of friends includes atheists, agnostics, pagans, Sufis, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and yes, Catholics,
Presbyterians, Mennonites, and almost every other faith you can name. So you’re probably thinking we must spend a lot of time
arguing about whose faith is “right” or “wrong.” Sorry to disappoint you. The Liberal Catholic Church looks at faith something
like this: “Truth is One – the sages call it by many names.” If you’re happy with your faith (or lack of faith), I’m happy for you.
And if you or your church like to help others, ease their pain, feed the hungry, heal the sick, or clothe the naked, the only other
thing I want to know is “How can we help?” People who want to be Catholic, but love ecumenism and interfaith efforts, need
the Liberal Catholic Church.
People who understand that religion isn’t a spectator sport.
If you’re looking for a church with dazzling multi-media presentations, with elaborate and expensive sound systems, with
hundred-member choirs, with television ministries and radio stations, where you can show up, be entertained, and go
home…well, you probably won’t like the Liberal Catholic approach to faith. But if you’re looking for a faith community, a place
to belong, a place where everybody knows your name, a place to participate and get involved, a place where our members are
family, in good times and bad; if you’re interested not just in attending a church but in helping to build a faith community, I think
you need the Liberal Catholic Church.
Is that everyone? Did I miss an issue or barrier that’s important to you? How about this one: People who have been denied the
sacraments for any reason, people who have felt like second-class citizens in other churches, people looking for a relationship
with our Lord Christ which comes with more love than rules – yes, they need the Liberal Catholic Church, too.
If you’re still reading, come with me on a tour of some of the links on our site. I’d also be happy to answer your e-mails
BpBennettBurke@yahoo.com or see you in person at one of our services, meetings or events. Or, you'd like to learn more,
please go to our denominational site at:
Liberal Catholic Church International
Are you already a happy and active member of another faith community? God bless you, and congratulations on having found
your path. I recognize the truth and importance of your path for you, as I hope you’ll respect ours, too. We celebrate the
blessed company of all faithful people, and hope we can all work together to reach out to the “least” of His children. With an
ecumenical spirit, we welcome you to our churches, and hope we’ll be welcome in yours.
Are you not a member of a faith community? Are you looking for a new one, one more progressive and inclusive? Do you
want to combine the best of Catholic worship, with intellectual freedom, spiritual liberty, and an unflinching search for growth
and truth? Do you believe that Christ came to take away our sins, not our minds?
If so, welcome – and welcome home.
In His Holy Name,
The Most Reverend Bennett D. D. Burke
Presiding Bishop, Liberal Catholic Church International
Pastor, Our Lady of Peace and Hope Liberal Catholic Mission, Tucson