WASHINGTON (November 25, 2003) — The dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Polish National Catholic Church held its fall session in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on October 29 and 30, 2003. The PNCC Co-Chairman, Prime Bishop Emeritus John F. Swantek, welcomed Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton as the new Roman Catholic Co-Chairman. Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, the Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, had named Bishop Martino to that position following the resignation of Bishop James C. Timlin, who had served as Roman Catholic co-chairman since 1994. Congratulations were extended to Bishop Thomas G. Wenski who was recently named Coadjutor Bishop of Orlando. The Most Rev. Robert Nemkovich, Prime Bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church, was also present.
Following up on discussions at the last meeting, the dialogue gave further consideration to the document “The Sacrament of Matrimony in the Polish National Catholic Church,” which was adopted formally by the PNCC General Synod in October 2002. Msgr. Thomas Green concluded his canonical reflections on the text from a Roman Catholic canonical perspective which he had not been able to finish at the last session.
The dialogue members also reviewed the 1999 agreement between the Catholic Bishops Conference of Germany and the Old Catholic Church in that country regarding the transfer of clergy.
Rev. Robert M. Nemkovich Jr. reported that the new book about this dialogue, Journeying Together in Christ: The Journey Continues, is due to be published by Our Sunday
Visitor press before the end of the year. It will cover developments in the relationship between the two churches from 1990 to 2002, and should prove to be an invaluable resource for the faithful of both communions.
In the dialogue’s continuing study of parallel and diverging church structures, Msgr. Thomas Green presented an overview of Roman Catholic church structures from James A. Corriden’s 1991 book, Introduction to Canon Law. This included dioceses and bishops, internal organization of dioceses, and parishes and the role of pastors.
The members of the dialogue were also informed about a new document issued by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, The Filioque: A Church Dividing Issue?, and the text of a paper presented recently by Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the Petrine Ministry.
On the evening of October 29, the members visited St. Joseph’s Polish National Catholic Parish in Davie, Florida, guided by Fr. Paul Sobiechowski who acted as host of the meeting.
The next session of the dialogue is scheduled to take place on March 11-12, 2004, hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Florida.
The dialogue between the Polish National Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church has been meeting semiannually since it was established in 1984. The present PNCC members include Most Rev. John F. Swantek (Co-Chairman), Very Rev. Marcell W. Pytlarz, Very Rev. John Z. Kraus, Very Rev. Paul Sobiechowski, Rev. Anthony Mikovsky, and Rev. Robert M. Nemkovich, Jr. The Roman Catholic team is composed of Bishop Joseph F. Martino (Co-Chairman), Bishop John M. Dougherty, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, Msgr. John Strynkowski, Msgr. Thomas J. Green, and Rev. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP (staff).