WASHINGTON (November 16, 2006)–The fall 2006 meeting of the Roman Catholic-Polish National Catholic Dialogue took place in Baltimore on November 9 and 10. Hosted by the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the sessions were held at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel where the Catholic Bishops were gathering for their November 13-16 plenary meeting.
The Roman Catholic participants, headed by Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo, heard a report from the members of the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) about the proceedings of the October 2006 PNCC General Synod. Four candidates for bishop were elected at the Synod, including a dialogue member, Rev. Anthony Mikovsky. At the 22nd General Synod of the PNCC the Prime Bishop, Most Rev. Robert Nemkovich appointed Bishop-Elect Anthony Mikovsky as PNCC Co-Chairman of the dialogue. He also appointed Bishop-Elect John E. Mack as a PNCC member. The dialogue commission expressed its gratitude to Prime Bishop Emeritus John Swantek for serving as PNCC Co-Chairman of the dialogue for the past four years. The new PNCC bishops are to be consecrated in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on November 30.
The PNCC members also reported that the Joint Declaration on Unity issued by the dialogue last May was well received at the General Synod, and that the assembly was encouraged by the dialogue’s progress. Bishop Kmiec also gave an account of favorable comments on the declaration he had heard in the Roman Catholic community. The full text of the Joint Declaration is available [at ecumenical-dialogue.ca/?r=110 ]
Dialogue members continued their reflection on the paper that the PNCC presented at the spring 2005 session, “The Polish National Catholic Church Commitment to Work for Church Unity.” Msgr. Thomas Green of the Catholic University of America presented reactions to that document at the October 2005 meeting, and further clarifications were now presented by Very Rev. Marcell Pytlarz, Very Rev. John Kraus, and Rev. Robert Nemkovich, Jr. Msgr. Green also provided a summary of the sections of The Code of Canon Law that deal with administration and ownership of parish property.
Rev. Ronald Roberson, CSP, reviewed the progress of the International Roman Catholic/Old Catholic Dialogue Commission, which was established in 2003. The PNCC members distributed copies of their church’s Statement Regarding the Relationship of the Polish National Catholic Church with the Union of Utrecht, dated September 5, 2006. The text states that even though the PNCC is no longer a member of the Union of Utrecht, it still considers the 1889 Declaration of Utrecht to be “a normative document of faith.”
During this session the members also examined in detail some local situations where tensions have arisen between Roman Catholics and Polish National Catholics. They expressed the hope that the spirit of the recent Joint Declaration on Unity might be more widely appreciated, and encourage greater understanding and cooperation among the faithful at the local level.
On the evening of November 9, the members attended an Interfaith Prayer Service at America’s first Catholic Cathedral, the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore. Cardinal William Keeler presided. The service, which included readings and reflections by representatives of the Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish and Islamic communities, was part of a week-long series of events to commemorate the bicentennial of the cathedral, and its re-opening after extensive renovations.
Future meetings of the Polish National Catholic-Roman Catholic dialogue are scheduled to take place on May 30-31 and September 25-26, 2007, in Milwaukee and Buffalo respectively.
The dialogue between the Polish National Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church has been meeting semiannually since its inception in 1984. The present PNCC members include Bishop-Elect Anthony Mikovsky (Co-Chairman), Bishop-elect John E. Mack, Very Rev. Marcell W. Pytlarz, Very Rev. John Z. Kraus, Very Rev. Paul Sobiechowski, 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).