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Book Description, Table of Contents, Book Reviews

Independent Catholics

A Guide to the Sojourner

398 pages including over 200 footnotes

A book about fully Sacramental Churches without the dogma and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church that do not discriminate on the basis of gender, marital status, or sexual orientation  

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Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner is a book for people interested in the Independent Catholic Movement especially current and former Roman Catholics who feel marginalized and disrespected.


 For these people, as well as other Seekers who are looking for a denomination that has valid Apostolic Succession and the Seven Sacraments of the Church Catholic, Independent Catholic Churches often meet their spiritual, ecclesial, and social needs.


 Additionally, Independent Catholic Churches such as the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch-Malabar Rite and the Ascension Alliance Community of Ascension are not burdened by the dogma and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, it is expected that all people—clergy and laity alike--use their own moral agency predicated on their informed conscience to make life-decisions issues such as assisted reproduction, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality.


 To this end, the Independent Catholic Churches cited above accept the teaching of St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and John Henry Newman, that when a person acts according to their informed conscience, even if it is later determined that action was wrong, they must use their informed conscience as the final arbiter of moral decision making and behavior even when to do is directly against Church teaching and civil law.


 These churches also have Open Communion because every person is a child of God and as such should not be banished from the Lord’s Table and the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.


 Finally, these churches also believe God calls people to Holy Orders to serve him in a special way without regard to gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. Thus women, married people, and homosexuals are welcomed as seminarians in our seminaries and are ordained as priests and consecrated as bishops in our churches.


Chapter 1

Development of the Church Catholic, Catholicity, Ministerial Priesthood, and Apostolic Succession

Chapter 2

The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church

Chapter 3

The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church

Chapter 4

Creeds, Prayers, and Pietistic Practices

Chapter 5

Prayers and Devotionals

Chapter 6

Independent Catholicism

Appendix I

Arnold Harris Mathew Line of Apostolic Succession

Appendix II

Jacobite Line of Apostolic Succession

Appendix III

Women in the Church: From Heads of House Churches to Presbyters

Appendix IV 

Sixty-Four Women through the 12th Century Who Were Ordained, Blessed, Made, and Consecrated to Holy Orders


Independent Catholic Resources


I am very proud of Monsignor Jack Sweeley’s new book, Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner. While it was originally conceived as a guide to those seeking confirmation it is much, much, more than that. Jack combines first-rate scholarship about Catholicism with exciting material about Independent Catholicism. This is probably the most authoritative book and masterful ecclesiology published on the Independent Movement.


Most Rev. Alan Kemp, D. Min.                                             

Founder and CEO, Ascension Alliance


Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner is a masterpiece, brilliantly organized, and captures the workings of the inner Spirit to say the least. This work will be a center of knowledge for the Independent Catholic Movement for years to come; a gift to all that are to follow us. It nudges our young people to go deeper into themselves as well as challenges their intellect to find the “truth”.

Most Rev. Patsy Grubbs, D.D.                                                   

Presiding Bishop, Ascension Alliance Independent Catholic Church

Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner sets a new standard for literature on the Independent Sacramental Movement. Monsignor Sweeley, with his usual flair for detail and explanation, makes an intricate and scholarly case for the validity of non-Roman Catholicism in language easily understood by all. It is a fair and honest assessment of teachings on Apostolic Succession, in his typical "no holds barred" style. I believe Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner will become the foundational work for all who are interested in Independent Catholicism, especially for those who feel in the least disenfranchised by the Church of Rome and a significant mementus for those who feel that organized religion conflicts with their intelligence.

Rev. Thomas Gallub, M. Div., Ph. D.

The great thing about a Monsignor Sweeley book is I can write the following with a clear conscience: Once again that brilliant “wordist” Monsignor John W. Sweeley has exposed more of the Piffle and Twaddle that lurks within certain church dogma; specifically, the myth women were never ordained as clergy in early Christianity when in fact they were and continued to be until the 12th century in some parts of Western Europe.

Originally, the primary requisites of candidates in the Orthodox Catholic Church for priesthood were: 1) The candidate had to be married (taken from Judaism where all rabbis had to be married), 2) The candidate had to be 33 years of age, and 3) Both men and women were accepted as candidates pursuant to regional acceptance of female priests.


It is good to see Monsignor Sweeley has fully addressed the validity of women in the lines of Apostolic Succession within Independent Catholicism. In his usual thorough style, he has dealt with Apostolic Succession so there is no doubt on that subject as far as the question of “GENUINE” lines of Apostolic Succession; that is, who is and who is not a holder of those lines.

If there was any doubt of the validity of Independent Catholics being fully “Catholic” before this book, there can be no doubt after reading it. The facts and history of the Church Catholic contained within this book cannot be disputed. Proof of Monsignor Sweeley’s words is clearly available for all to see from the cited sources.

As usual, the research has obviously been time consuming and diligent, but then again, you would expect nothing less from Monsignor Jack Sweeley.

Archbishop Frank Bugge, D.D.                                             

Primate, Australian Church of Antioch

This work is a deep well of knowledge. It has a historical basis for all who seek to be confirmed in Ascension Alliance or any Independent Catholic Church. It is thorough and complete. It reflects conventional information as well as new thought and metaphysics.

Monsignor Steve Grubbs, Ph.D.                                                                    

Ascension Alliance Independent Catholic Church

Without question, Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner is not only the most rigorous and honest ecclesiology of non-Vatican Catholicism that I have ever seen; it is also a comprehensive primer of the history of Catholic thinking and evolution toward thought beyond the confines of the Vatican. As such, it fulfills a crucial role: that of understanding in the history of the church divergent and culturally relativistic views were not only present but viable, and that these views were a reflection of faith lived.

Authentic Catholic experience is not limited to a life of dogmatic discussion; rather, it is a living, growing, diverging, organic, and evolutionary faith of incomprehensible power that is available to all people without surrendering their intellectual and spiritual integrity.

The whole point of Monsignor Sweeley’s book is to bring the essentials of history, thought, and praxis of that experience to the reader.


Most Rev. Michael Adams, M.A., D.D.                                      

Ascension Alliance Community of Ascensionists

Independent Catholics, A Guide to the Sojourner, is a text that will enlighten any student of comparative religions. For those of us who have been, or remain “Roaming Catholics”, it is a must read.

Father R. S. Wood-Campos, J.D., M.A.

Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature about the Independent Catholic Movement. Monsignor Sweeley combines solid historical research with an insightful understanding of traditional Catholic teaching on Apostolic Succession to make a clear and convincing argument for the validity of Independent Catholicism. Although scholarly in content, the material is presented in a style that makes it easily accessible to people in the pews.

This book is a “must read” for anyone interested in learning about the Independent Catholic Movement.

Most Rev. Mark Elliott Newman, OC, D.D.                         

Presiding Bishop                                                                   

Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch

I found, Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner, to be an extremely informative book. From the point of view of someone not so conversant with all the “hierarchy & history” that are presented, I found it an “easy read” compared to many other books giving similar historical detail. Of course being female clergy, I love the dissection of the Roman Catholic Church’s argument against female clergy.

The research and referencing is of the highest standard, and as usual, cannot be disputed. Another brilliant, informative, and accurate, “tell it like it is” book!

Most Rev. Leonie Newman, D.D.                                                             

Parish of St. Bernadette                                                   

Australian Church of Antioch


For anyone looking for a book on the Independent Catholic Movement, Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner is the book to have. Monsignor Jack Sweeley has written a comprehensive guide for not only candidates for confirmation, but also for the layperson or seminarian wanting to know more about the history and beliefs of Independent Catholic denominations.


The text has been extensively researched and well presented. Monsignor Sweeley covers everything needed to prepare one for confirmation as well as for anyone seeking to delve more deeply into their Catholic faith. 


Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner is a must read not only for candidates for confirmation, but also for all spiritual seekers.


The Most Rev. Glenn Clark, EOSF - DD, FCMD; LCMD, L dip A (Australia).

Archbishop of Tasmania                                                          

Minister General of Ecumenical Order of St Francis.

I found Monsignor Sweeley’s book, Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner to be a well-written and well-researched history of Catholic Christianity presented in an interesting and believable form.

As ever, I am extremely irked by the way the Roman Catholic Church has treated women down through the centuries. Perhaps the mention of all the famous women who held ecclesial and prophetic offices through the 12th century will help to change public opinion on the role of women in the Church.

I found the comparison of the different Creeds fascinating, as I can remember learning them through childhood, although I did not then know of the history behind them.

I found the questions at the end of the chapters most thought-provoking. I am sure they will make readers stop and wonder if they really absorbed all the content and thus be able to answer the questions.

It was good to see the whole of our Apostolic Succession, the Mathew line of succession from the Old Catholic Church to Archbishop Herman Spruit’s Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch, and those he consecrated to the Episcopate, so well presented.

I am also delighted to read of some of the present clergy whom I met in America, so many years ago.

Monsignora Sandra London, C.P.L.                                            

Australian Church of Antioch

 I found Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner to be informative, instructive, and a very easy read. It is a book not only the neophyte, but for the mature traditional Independent Catholic, that reaffirms and reinforces our faith in God and the church. Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner is reader friendly by making difficult theological concepts easy to comprehend.

Monsignor Sweeley is to be congratulated on his eloquence in his writing and description of the requirements of Catholic faith.

I feel Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner would make an exceptional addition to any theologian’s library, including my own.


The Very Reverend Giles Hall [E.O.S.F.] (Hermit)]                                                                 Australian Church of Antioch


Rev. Dr. Jack Sweeley is one of the important theologians and scholars within the academia of Independent Catholicism. His book, Independent Catholic: A Guide to the Sojourner is a good introduction to Catechetical subjects, historical Christian development, and their significant role towards the formation of Independent Catholicism. His exposition on the validity of the many Independent Catholic lines of Apostolic Succession, particularly the jurisdictions that derive from Patriarch Herman Spruit of the Old Catholic Mathew line of Succession, is well-researched and poses important keys to the continuous dialogue within the universal Church Catholic.

As a consequence of, Independent Catholics: A Guide to the Sojourner, both clergy and laity-- especially in the Independent Sacramental Movement--will no longer discuss Apostolic Succession exclusively through the lens and authority of the Roman Catholic Church alone. Instead, it will be confirmed by the dynamic truth of its existing validity through the constant denial of the Movement’s irrefutable Sacramental Orders by the Roman Catholic Church.

If denial is the fearful approval of things that are true, then this book will lead you through the denials of the Roman Catholic Church to the truth.


Most Rev. Carrey Oliver (E.O.S.F.), D.Th.                                                                                   Bishop of Borneo                                                                                                                         Antioch Mission in Asia




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