WASHINGTON (June 18, 2007)–The spring session of the Polish National Catholic-Roman Catholic dialogue took place on May 30 and 31, 2007, at the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was hosted by the PNCC, and organized by the Very Rev. John Z. Kraus, pastor of St. Mary’s parish in West Allis, Wisconsin. The meeting was co-chaired by Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo, and by Bishop Anthony Mikovsky of the PNCC Central Diocese. This was the first meeting co-chaired by Bishop Mikovsky, who was ordained to the episcopate on November 30, 2006. The session was also attended by Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba of Milwaukee, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The main focus of this meeting was the current relationship between the two churches, and a review of the correspondence with the Holy See since 1991 concerning the validity of PNCC sacraments, sacramental sharing, and the extent to which the Catholic Church considers the PNCC to be in the same state as the Orthodox churches in these and other matters. The members were encouraged by the general direction of these discussions, which was brought forward by the dialogue’s Joint Declaration on Unity of May 2006. There was a consensus that the Joint Declaration has created a new context in which further incremental steps towards unity might be explored. The full text of the Joint Declaration is available [at ecumenical-dialogue.ca/?r=110 ]
In addition, the members heard a presentation by Msgr. John Strynkowski of the document issued earlier this year by the International Theological Commission, “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized.” The text resonated with the PNCC delegation, since their church has always taught that unbaptized children can be saved.
Later in the same session, Rev. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP, Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the USCCB, offered a brief overview of the new book by Cardinal Walter Kasper, A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism. The cardinal’s book offers a host of ways in which the churches can express the unity shared in various forms of spiritual activity. There was also a discussion of the new English translation of the Roman liturgy that is being prepared by the Holy See.
The next meeting of the dialogue is scheduled to take place in Buffalo, New York, on September 25 and 26, 2007.
The dialogue between the Polish National Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church has been meeting semiannually since 1984. The present PNCC members include Bishop Anthony Mikovsky (Co-Chairman), Bishop John E. Mack, Very Rev. Marcell W. Pytlarz, Very Rev. John Z. Kraus, Very Rev. Paul Sobiechowski, 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).