WASHINGTON (May 15, 1997) — The spring meeting of the on-going dialogue between the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Polish National Catholic Church took place in West Paterson, New Jersey, May 6-7.
The session was hosted by Holy Cross Polish National Catholic parish, whose pastor, Very Reverend Sigmund Peplowski, is a member of the dialogue. The meeting was co-chaired by Bishop James C. Timlin of Scranton and Right Reverend Anthony M. Rysz, Bishop of the Central Diocese of the Polish National Catholic Church.
New members on both sides were introduced. New Roman Catholic members include Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Nashville, who was unable to attend, Msgr. Thomas Green of the Canon Law faculty of the Catholic University of America, and Msgr. John Strynkowski, pastor of Holy Cross parish, Maspeth, New York, and a member of the official dialogue with the United Methodist Church. Polish National Catholic Bishop Robert Nemkovich of the Western Diocese has been appointed to the dialogue but was unable to attend. The PNCC delegation also included Right Reverend Thaddeus Peplowski (Bishop of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh diocese), Very Reverend Stanley Skrzypek, Very Reverend Sigmund Peplowski, Reverend A. Waine Kargul, and Very Reverend Marcell W. Pytlarz. NCCB participants included Most Reverend Edward M. Grosz, Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo, Reverend Joseph F. Mytych, and Rev. Ronald Roberson, CSP, of the staff of the NCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
The meeting began with a discussion of the significance of the Polish National Catholic Church’s centennial celebration this year, and the pastoral letter read by Bishop Timlin at the main liturgical commemoration of the centennial in St. Stanislaus Polish National Catholic Cathedral in Scranton on March 9. Bishop Timlin’s letter was well received and helped foster a growing sense of reconciliation between the two church bodies.
The members of the bilateral dialogue also heard a presentation by Msgr.Strynkowski on the ministry of the Bishop of Rome as understood by Catholics in light of the recent encyclical Ut Unum Sint. BishopPeplowski spoke about ways in which the results of the dialogue could be made better known among the clergy and people of both communions, and Bishop Timlin reflected on possible models of unity between the two churches.
Msgr. Green presented a paper on ways in which the Polish National Catholic Church might fit into the Orthodox sections of The Ecumenical Directory. With this in mind, Father Roberson offered an overview of an agreement on interchurch marriages reached between the Vatican and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in India, in 1994.
Bishop Timlin will host the next meeting of the dialogue, October 28-29, in Scranton. Proposed topics for discussion include further reflections on the extent to which Roman Catholic policy towards Orthodox Christians as expressed in The Ecumenical Directory could apply to the Polish National Catholic Church, the Guidelines for the transfer of clergy that were recently signed by Cardinal Edward Cassidy of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Archbishop Glazemaker of Utrecht, and reflections by the Polish National Catholic Church on possible models of unity.