Sovereign Pontifical

Pontifical Government of the Church:

Structure and Leadership of the Pontificate and Government


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As a non-territorial ecclesiastical state possessing inherent Pontifical authority under Canon law (Canon 215; Canon 129, §1) [1] [2] [3], the 12th century Ancient Apostolic Church holds the status of a “sovereign subject of international law” [4] [5], based upon its authentic substance [6]. As the state representing the cultural “nationality” of the 1st century denomination of Ancient Catholicism in world affairs, it can also be properly referred to as a “nation-state”.


Pontifical authority with independent statehood as a sovereign subject of international law in official diplomatic relations backed by 5+ Vatican Papal Bulls

As a historical canonical Pontificate possessing statehood under customary international law, the Ancient Apostolic Church lawfully has a legitimate Government, with official capacity to exercise all functions of statehood and diplomacy in international relations.


The following is only a partial list of the leading Officers and Clergy of the Pontifical Government who currently have the most visible public functions:


(Note: Some members of the Pontifical Curia or College or Bishops may separately hold additional royal, nobiliary or secular titles, which may be of higher profile than the present ecclesiastical titles and forms of address used in the Government of the Church, and thus may use such titles privately as they deem appropriate.)


Pontifical Curia – College of Cardinals


T (Gold Fill)The medieval Latin word ‘Curia’ means the nobiliary “Court” of the sovereign Pontiff. The Pontifical Curia constitutes the supreme body of the Government of the Church (Canon 360), which conducts the sovereign and diplomatic affairs of the Catholicate as a sovereign subject of international law. It primarily consists of the senior Clergy under the personal prelature of the Supreme Pontiff (Canon 266, §1; Canon 268, §2), mostly comprised of Cardinals. In the Ancient Apostolic Church, the Pontifical Curia also serves as the College of Cardinals (Canon 349).


Supreme Pontiff – Cardinal Khern S. Oliver, M.Th., D.Div., J.C.L.


pontiff-khern-cardinal-web-accHis Holiness (H.H.) Pontiff Khern Oliver has over 18 years of ecclesiastical experience in classical Churches of various canonical denominations of Catholicism.


He began his ecclesiastical career in the Brotherhood of Saint Francis of Assisi (BSFA) of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican mission of the Franciscan Order from 1212 AD (recognized by the Bishop of Salisbury in communion with the Church of England in 1931 AD). As a Vatican Franciscan he was ordained into minor orders (1997), and as a Deacon and Priest (1998) in Derby England. He was initiated into the Sacred Order of Benedictine Brothers (2004), specializing in investigations of energy manifestations and exorcisms. With additional seminary studies in the Essene Orthodox Church, he completed a Master of Theology (M.Th.) in Catholic Mysticism from the Wedgewood Seminary of the Order of Saint Thomas (2009), and was elevated to Doctor of Divinity (Honoris Causa, for earned merit) in Classical Old Catholicism by the Chivalric Order of Saint Daniel (2010).


Khern was consecrated as a Bishop by the Old Roman Catholic Church in Lutterworth, England (2010), and elevated to Archbishop by Corpus Christi Ecumenical Fellowship (2011). He completed a Licentiate of Canon Law (J.C.L.) in Canonical Old Catholicism under an externship of Ignita Veritas University (2014), and was elevated to Cardinal of the Ancient Apostolic Church (2014).


Canonically incardinated exclusively into the Ancient Apostolic Church, Khern is not subject to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of any other external Church, although by Canon law many Clergy and Bishops of his former Churches remain under Khern’s Episcopal jurisdiction as their ordinator and consecrator.


Cardinal Khern was strategically vested with multiple lines of Apostolic Succession by the 12th century Independent Church Movement, the derivative 19th century Old Catholic Movement, and the resulting 20th century Liberal and Reformed Catholic Movement, as a figurehead to reunite all of these movements, which are recognized by the Vatican. This led to his founding the Independent Rite of Catholic Churches (2010), culminating in the full restoration of the 12th century Ancient Apostolic Church (2015).


After primary service and ministry in the Vatican Franciscan Brotherhood (1997-2004), he practiced active Episcopal ministry in Corpus Christi Ecumenical Fellowship (2004-2014), and the Celtic Church of the Good Shepherd (2008-2014).


Cardinal Khern continued the Brotherhood of Saint Francis from Reverend Father Superior Thomas Aquinas (from 2004), becoming the lineal canonical successor as the last remaining survivor of that Franciscan Order (since ca. 2010). The juridical patrimony of the Brotherhood of Saint Francis thus became canonically vested in the Ancient Apostolic Church through Pontiff Khern (from 2015).


Cardinal Khern Oliver now serves as the Supreme Pontiff (Pontifex Summus) of the 1st century denomination of Ancient Catholicism, as Pontifical Prelate of the Curia and College of Bishops of the 12th century Ancient Apostolic Church. He thus serves as Head of State for the Church as a sovereign subject of international law.


Coadjutor Pontiff – Cardinal Matthew Bennett, J.C.D.


Cardinal Professor Matthew Bennett holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Foreign Languages (1993) from Union College (terms abroad at University of Rennes France), relevant to translating ancient and medieval documents.  He completed a Master of Science (M.S.) in Electrical Engineering (1996) from the Pontifical Academy of Sacred Sciences (externship at Moscow State Technical University), specializing in electrofield physics applied to electro-neurobiology.


He is a Professor of Law holding a Juris Doctor (J.D.) in International Law (1997) from Dickinson School of Law, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in International Affairs (2001) from the Royal Institute of Geopolitics and Diplomacy (externship at Russian Academy of Natural Sciences), and “Professorship” Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D.) (2008) from the Royal Institute of Law and Justice (externship at Tver State University Russia).


He is a Professor of Ancient and Medieval History holding a “Professorship” Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Archaeology and Egyptology (2012) from the Pontifical Academy of History and Culture (externship at Russian Ministry of Culture), and an historian and archaeologist for various kingdoms, churches, and inter-governmental institutions.


He is the elected Prince Grand Master of the restored Order of the Temple of Solomon (2013), which governed the Principalities of Antioch, Tripoli and Edessa from 1129 AD, later making the Order a sovereign non-territorial (international) Principality, also on the basis of its own ecclesiastical sovereignty of the Ancient Priesthood from the Temple of Solomon, carrying the original 1st century denomination of Ancient Christianity.


He was vetted and established as a Barrister (2013), as a rank of the independent legal profession in Common Law, specializing in human rights, and representing sovereign historical institutions of statehood and diplomatic status.  He was appointed King’s Counsel (K.C.) and Privy Councillor (P.C.) by Letters Patent (2018), for kingdoms of world heritage leading an ancient Royal Alliance.


Throughout over 30 years of active ecclesiastical experience, he completed 7 years of direct priestly initiations in the Ancient Priesthood of the Biblical Magi of Melchizedek and the Djedi Order of Pharaonic Egypt, within the 12th century Independent Church Movement, with intensive training in London, Paris, Rennes and Luxor.


In the Celtic Church of Brocéliande and Carnac of Brittany (Rennes, France), of the 19th century Old Catholic Movement, with Vatican Apostolic lines, he was ordained as a Priest in Paris (1988), admitted to a Benedictine Order of Exorcists in New York (1991), consecrated as Bishop by an Italian consecrator with canonical laying on of hands in New York (1992), elevated to Archbishop in Rennes (1993), and elevated to Cardinal in Paris (2013).


He was canonically incardinated into the Ancient Apostolic Church (2015), consecrated sub-conditione with additional lines of Apostolic Succession, and constitutionally established as Coadjutor Pontiff of the 1st century denomination of Ancient Christianity (2015).


He completed his Juris Canonici Doctor (J.C.D.) in Canon Law (2016) from the Royal Institute of Law and Justice (externship at Vatican-Anglican Franciscan Order), producing the “Handbook of Canon Law” (265 pages) as his doctoral dissertation, the first historic landmark work fully restoring Canon law in its practical applications within the Independent Church Movement and Old Catholic Movement.


Cardinal Matthew serves as the constitutional Coadjutor Pontiff of the restored 12th century Ancient Apostolic Church, also serving on its Pontifical Curia as Secretary of State, representing the Church as a sovereign subject of international law in diplomatic relations.


College of Bishops – Ecumenical Council


T (Gold Fill)The College of Bishops supports the Pontifical Curia as the advisory body for overseeing and supporting the Clergy of the Church, and is primarily responsible for maintaining canonical Episcopal succession from the Apostles (Canon 336) [7], preserving the original 1st century denomination of Ancient Catholicism within the 12th century Ancient Apostolic Church. The College of Bishops also serves as the Ecumenical Council (Canon 337).


The College of Bishops is equivalent to a “lower house” of parliament dedicated to ecclesiastical affairs, while sovereign affairs are reserved to the Pontifical Curia as the “upper house” of the government. It is generally comprised of Archbishops who are directly in communion with the Supreme Pontiff, nominated and elected by the Pontifical Curia.


Apostolic Synod – Advisory Council


The Apostolic Synod supports the College of Bishops as the advisory body for the preservation of faith and morals within the Church, and for the promotion of ecclesiastical discipline among the Clergy (Canon 342).


Members of the Apostolic Synod must be consecrated Bishops, nominated and elected by the Pontifical Curia. The Synod is generally comprised of Bishops who are also the equivalent of a “crown officer” of a sovereign principality, such as those appointed as an Episcopal Chancellor (Cancellarius Episcopus), Apostolic Administrator (Administrator Apostolicus), Apostolic Delegate (Delegatus Apostolicus) or Special Envoy (Legatus Missus).


Legal Notices Regarding Government Officials


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Official Flag of the Ancient Catholic Church as an ecclesiastical non-territorial Principality and sovereign subject of international law

Official Flag of the Ancient Apostolic Church as an ecclesiastical non-territorial Principality and sovereign subject of international law

All government officials, as Pontifical Officers of the Ancient Apostolic Church, are protected as consular officials (UN Consular Relations, Articles 3, 1(d), 17.1), holding the relevant status, authorities, privileges and immunities of Diplomats of the Church under customary international law.


International law recognizes the “status of diplomatic agents” from all forms of nation states “since ancient times”, including historical sovereign entities of “differing constitutional and social systems” (UN Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Preamble; UN Convention of Consular Relations, Preamble.) International law specifically requires that countries “shall not discriminate” against a historical form of nation state (UN Convention on Consular Relations, Article 47.1). Status as a sovereign “subject of international law” is binding upon all countries regardless of recognition (UN Law of Treaties, Articles 3, 38), with inherent diplomatic and consular relations (UN Consular, Articles 3, 1(d), 17.1) as a non-territorial state (UN Diplomatic, Articles 1(i), 3.1(a)).


acc-government-official-badge-sampleDiplomatic status is invoked with all privileges and immunities by presenting “Diplomatic Credentials” as issued (UN Diplomatic Relations, Article 13), exempt from accreditation or embassy registration (UN Diplomatic, Articles 1(i), 3.1(a)), without requirement of a consular post (UN Consular Relations, Articles 3, 1(d), 17.1), regardless of recognition (UN Law of Treaties, Articles 3, 38). Pontifical Officers do not engage in commerce, retaining full immunities (UN Consular, Article 57). Immunities fully apply by the fact of sovereignty alone (UN Diplomatic, Articles 22-36; UN Consular, Articles 40-57). High Officials and Parliament hold absolute immunity regardless of scope of functions (ICJ Congo v. Belgium, Articles 51-55).


Academic Source References for this Topic


[1] The Vatican, The Code of Canon Law: Apostolic Constitution, Second Ecumenical Council (“Vatican II”), Enacted (1965), Amended and ratified by Holy See of Rome (1983).

[2] Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), Authority in the Church I (Articles 21-23); Authority in the Church II (Article 19, Article 21); Published in: Authority in the Church: The Final Report, Windsor (1981), London (1982), Reprinted in: C. Hill & E.J. Yarnold, Anglicans and Roman Catholics: The Search for Unity, London (1994)

[3] Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), The Gift of Authority: Authority in the Church III (Article 1, Articles 14-18), Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, London (1999); Reprinted in: M. Tanner, The Gift of Authority: A Commentary, Anglican World (1999), pp.33-36.

[4] Rebecca Wallace, International Law: A Student Introduction, 2nd Edition, Sweet & Maxwell (1986).

[5] United Nations, Convention on the Law of Treaties, Registry Vol. 1155, No.18232, Vienna (1969), Article 3.

[6] Vatican, Tribunal e Cardinalizi o Constituito con Pontifico Chirografo (10 December 1951), Acta Apostolicae Sedis (24 January 1953), XLV (15): 765-767.

[7] The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition: “Macropaedia”, Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational, United Kingdom (1983), Volume 1, p.989, “Curia”.


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