WASHINGTON (May 26, 2005)—The Roman Catholic-Polish National Catholic dialogue held its spring session on May 10 and 11, 2005, in Buffalo, New York. It was hosted by Most Reverend Thaddeus Peplowski, Bishop of the PNCC’s Buffalo/Pittsburgh Diocese, at Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral. The meeting was presided over by His Grace Bishop John F. Swantek, Prime Bishop Emeritus of the PNCC, and Most Reverend Edward U. Kmiec, Roman Catholic Bishop of Buffalo. Bishop Kmiec announced that he had accepted an invitation from Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, to serve as Co-Chairman of the dialogue. Rev. Phillip Altavilla, the Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of Scranton, has also been appointed as a Roman Catholic member of the commission.
The Most Reverend Robert M. Nemkovich, the Prime Bishop of the PNCC, reported on his attendance at the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome in April. He, his son, Rev. Robert M. Nemkovich, Jr. and Fr. Ramzi Musallam were well received by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and had positive discussions with members of the Pontifical Council’s staff.
Some issues related to sacramental sharing between the churches were also discussed, including the situation of deployed military chaplains and the need to present the relevant discipline of the churches in an accurate manner to the faithful.
The main agenda item of this session was the presentation of a major PNCC paper entitled, “The Polish National Catholic Church: Commitment to Work for Church Unity.” The text — which has not yet reached its definitive form — provides an overview of the emergence and development of the PNCC, and surveys the evolution of official thinking of the PNCC on the primacy over the years and its reading of the patristic evidence on this issue. It also describes the PNCC position on the insertion of the Filioque clause into the Creed, its developing understanding of Church Unity, and provides a PNCC assessment of positive and negative aspects of the current situation. The Roman Catholic members welcomed this paper as a significant step forward in the sense that it helped to clarify the progress made and the issues that remain to be addressed, and will help the dialogue to obtain a clearer focus in its next stages.
The next session of the dialogue was scheduled to take place in Buffalo, hosted by Bishop Kmiec, on September 19 and 20, 2005. Items for discussion will include an examination of responses received to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint, an initial Roman Catholic response to the PNCC paper on Church Unity, the concept of jurisdiction in the context of a communion ecclesiology, and considerations on a possible Common Statement on our commitment to unity.
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 participants include Bishop Edward U. Kmiec (Co-Chairman), Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, Msgr. John Strynkowski, Msgr. Thomas J. Green, Rev. Phillip Altavilla, and Rev. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP (staff).