WASHINGTON (October 27, 2000) — Conciliarity and Primacy, recent developments in the Union of Utrecht, sacramental sharing, and the recent document Dominus Iesus were subjects of discussion at the fall meeting of the Roman Catholic-Polish National Catholic dialogue that took place in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on October 24 and 25. Co-chaired by Roman Catholic Bishop James C. Timlin of Scranton and PNCC Bishop Robert Nemkovich of the Western Diocese (Chicago), the meeting took place at the PNCC National Church Center in Scranton.
The members examined the draft text of a revised version of the 1996 Pastoral Guidelines issued by the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs concerning sacramental sharing between the two churches. It addresses more fully the circumstances under which it is permissible for Roman Catholic faithful to receive the sacraments of the Polish National Catholic Church.
PNCC Prime Bishop John F. Swantek spoke about the May 2000 meeting of the International Bishops’ Conference that took place in Wroclaw, Poland, and the installation of a new Primate of the Union of Utrecht, Archbishop Joris Vercammen. The Prime Bishop described new problems in relations with the Old Catholic Church of Austria created by the blessing of same-sex unions in that church, and continuing tensions over the ordination of women in most of the churches of the Utrecht Union. During the IBC meeting, the participants were hosted by Cardinal Gulbinowicz of Wroclaw, and there was an ecumenical service in St. Elizabeth’s Roman Catholic Church in Wroclaw. The Prime Bishop reported that a dialogue is making progress between the Polish Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Poland.
Msgr. Thomas Green led a discussion of two recent articles on primacy and conciliarity in the Church. This took place within the context of a continuing and wide-ranging examination of the role of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, a key issue that must be resolved before full communion between the two churches can be restored.
Msgr. John Strynkowski presented the recent document of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, and its Note concerning the use of the expression “sister churches.” This, along with comments published by various member churches of the Union of Utrecht that were distributed by the PNCC members, led to a discussion of the impact of these documents on the dialogue.
This dialogue between the Polish National Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church has been meeting regularly since its inception in 1984. In addition to the two co-chairmen, the Roman Catholic members include Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Nashville, Auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty of Scranton, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, Msgr. John Strynkowski, Msgr. Thomas Green, and Rev. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP (staff). Additional PNCC members include Very Rev. Marcel Pytlarz, Very Rev. John Z. Kraus, Very Rev. Paul Sobiechowski, and Rev. Anthony Mikovsky. The next meeting is scheduled to take place on May 16 and 17, 2001, under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton.