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Catholic Dictionary




The position held by some Anglo-Catholics that the one true Church of Christ is made up of three separate churches, the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox. It assumes that episcopal and priestly orders, validly transmitted, are found only in these three churches. While admitting that these bodies differ widely in many ways, the branch theory holds that they are united in essentials. They are out growths, it is said, from a single ecclesiastical trunk, the original Church founded by Christ.