Polish National, Roman Catholic Churches Address Doctrinal Issues At Spring Meeting

May 28, 2008 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Doctrinal issues led agenda items at the spring session of the Polish National Catholic (PNCC) – Roman Catholic Dialogue, May 19 and 20, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The meeting was held at the PNCC's National Church Center and hosted by Bishop Robert Nemkovich, the PNCC Prime Bishop. Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo and Bishop Anthony Mikovsky of the PNCC Central Diocese co-chaired the meeting.

Two new Roman Catholic members joined the group: Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, and Bishop Matthew Ustrzycki, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Hamilton, Ontario. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops became an official participant in the dialogue at the meeting.

Dialogue members considered the situation of PNCC military chaplains and the options for sacramental sharing in combat zones. Members also heard an update on a proposal to permit PNCC faithful to act as sponsors at Roman Catholic baptisms, and to require the dispensation of form for liceity only in the case of mixed marriages in the PNCC.

Msgr. Thomas Green of The Catholic University of America School of Canon Law reviewed presentations from the 1996 dialogue regarding the canonical status of former Roman Catholic clergy and faithful who have joined the PNCC and the 2006 statement by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts regarding the formal act of leaving the Catholic Church.

Members also re-examined two previous agreements between Roman Catholics and Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht regarding the transfer of clergy from one church to the other: the agreement signed in 1996 between Cardinal Edward Cassidy, then President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Archbishop Antonius Jan Glazemaker of Utrecht (later withdrawn) and the 1999 agreement between the German Bishops' Conference and the Old Catholic Diocese in Germany. The PNCC members also shared the text of the Declaration of Scranton, a document intended to clarify the doctrinal position of the PNCC on several issues.

Members also considered the April visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States and local examples of misunderstandings between members of the two churches. The next meeting is slated for November 6-7, in Baltimore.

The Polish National Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church have been meeting for a semiannual dialogue since 1984. Current PNCC members include Bishop Anthony Mikovsky (Co-Chairman), Bishop John E. Mack, Very Rev. Marcell W. Pytlarz, Very Rev. John Z. Kraus, Very Rev. Paul Sobiechowski, and Father Robert M. Nemkovich Jr. Roman Catholic members include Bishop Edward U. Kmiec (Co-Chairman), Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Florida, Auxiliary Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Baltimore, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Matthew Ustrzycki of Hamilton, Ontaro, Msgr. John Strynkowski, Msgr. Thomas J. Green, Father Phillip Altavilla, and Paulist Father Ronald G. Roberson (staff).