Old Catholic Apostolic Church
Fathers Stevennistes

Pastoral letter, 2015 to Frs Stevennistes

The Congregation of the Fathers Stevennistes is an Ordinariate under the canons of the Old Catholic Apostolic Church (before that the Apostolic Catholic Church Little Old Primatial, Wavre Belgium).Today, we have a presence in France, Belgium (our home), Switzerland, Angola, USA, Cameroon, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Gabon Antilles and Canada that bring together several congregations under "the Congregation of the Fathers Stevennistes". The Prior is the Rt. Revd. Msgr. Jean NDJEWEL. The principal language of the Fathers Stevennistes is French.

So who are we?
Our church has nothing to do with a cult, nor with traditionalists, or fundamentalists or Tridentine Masses in Latin, or the infamous gallicanism or even infaillibilistes. If it is nothing of all this, what is it then?
Little Apostolic Church Old Catholic (Small Church, catholic of course) is called this as opposed to the Great Roman Catholic Church. The Little Church name was given to Catholics who refused to submit to the Concordat signed in 1801 between the very pretentious Napoleon who harbored the dream of subjecting the Church to temporal power and Plaisantin Pope Pius VII. "The anticoncordataires" is the other name they gave them in France and Belgium, and is often stated "Anticoncordataires Stevennistes". In France they had different names by Region: Clementine, dissidents, luisettes, rondellistes, etc.

Overview History
September 9, 1779, and Napoleon Bonaparte after a coup has risen to power as the first Consul of France. Ambitious, he turned to the Catholic Church which he sees as a political instrument. After negotiations with Pope Pius VII (elected March 14, 1800), he forced the signing of a Concordat July 15, 1801. This Concordat in reality only advantages Napoleon in that it gave him the possibility to appoint or suspend Bishops. The Pope, fooled by this manouevre, publishes the Bull "Who Christi Domini vices" to disrupt this. The Bishops refused to resign en bloc. Napoleon's police then forced them to resign. Of a 136 bishoprics, some ended up conceding to these serious threats to change, others went into exile in England or chose hiding. 36 of them and thousands of priests and faithful,  maintained their determination to face this new disruptive order of the Church. These are the 'Fathers of Little Church'. They were accused of being 'anticoncordataires'. In Belgium, Bishop Cornelius Stevens led this Anti-Concordat movement, and the critics did not hesitate to call catholics related to this fight 'Stevennistes'.

So what remains of the Small Church?
The Small Church was thought to be extinct until the work of Aimé Bausier who in 1971 was consecrated Bishop to restore the Apostolic Succession in the Church which had long been under the leadership of successive spiritual fathers (13 in total since Corneille Stevens). In recognition of the Apostolic Succession received from the hands of Bishop Charles BREARLAY (Primate of the Old Catholic Church of England), the term 'Old Catholic' was added to the Little Church that became in effect Apostolic Church Old Catholic. Later, Monsignor Vestraet Christian grew the Little Church beyond Europe.  The term 'Little (Small) Church' is an alternative to Roman Catholicism which is very pyramidal and too centralized. The foundation of our church is historic: "O happy fault of Napoleon, who brought us such a beautiful church". Our role, played since 1802 by the small remnant of the true church catholic and apostolic tradition, is why this teaching is an open, upward system, similar to a dome that opens to the sky and not down; not a monarchical summit. We believe that the plurality of dignitaries joined together fraternally is the Apostolic Spirit.The apostolic adjective was added to the Little Church and recalls the continuous relationship through order, tradition and communion with the Apostles to whom Christ left his Church. Old Catholic because the catholic episcopal communities broke with Rome after the definition of the dogma of papal infallibility and supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. The Old Catholic communities met since 1889, based on a common faith in the Union of Utrecht.

Directory of Members of the Fathers Stevennistes.
Rules of the Fathers Stevennistes.
Declaration of Ordinariate