WASHINGTON (May 24, 2006) — The Polish National Catholic-Roman Catholic dialogue has adopted a “Joint Declaration on Unity” that spells out the nature of the relationship between the two bodies and looks forward to the establishment of full communion between them.
Meeting at Blessed Trinity Parish of the Polish National Catholic Church in Fall River, Massachusetts, the members of the dialogue finalized the text at the close of a two-day meeting on May 17. The document summarizes the history of relations between the two churches, describes the origins of the dialogue and outlines the progress it has made since it began twenty-two years ago. Possible new steps towards full communion that may be taken in the future are listed, as well as a commitment to a careful examination of primacy and conciliarity in the Church. The goal of the dialogue is clearly defined as full communion between the two churches.
Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo, the Catholic co-chairman of the dialogue, praised the document as a step forward in the relationship between the two churches. “After twenty-two years of dialogue,” the bishop said, “it was time to take stock of our relations and spell out in a clear and succinct way the path we have followed, and prospects for the future. This is an encouraging development.” The Polish National Catholic Co-Chairman, Prime Bishop Emeritus John F. Swantek, said that “the Joint Declaration on Unity is a statement that we are committed to work for that unity for which our Lord prayed. We have much in common, but there are some problematic matters which we are determined to resolve.”
At this session the members of the dialogue also continued their discussion of the paper presented earlier by the Polish National Catholic Church concerning its commitment to work for Church unity. The ecumenical ministry of Pope Benedict XVI during the first year of his papacy was examined, as well as a number of local situations that affect the relationship between the two churches. The next meeting of the dialogue is due to take place on November 9-10, 2006.
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 PNCC Prime Bishop, Most Rev. Robert Nemkovich, also attended the meeting as an observer. 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).