US Catholic & Polish National Catholic churches discuss clergy transfers

 — Nov. 13, 200913 nov. 2009

[Washington • USCCB Media 09-237] The challenges of clergy transfers between churches stood as a key topic at the annual Polish National Catholic-Roman Catholic dialogue, this year at the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania, September 28-29. Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo and Bishop Anthony Mikovsky of the Central diocese of the PNCC co-chaired the meeting.

Members held a lengthy discussion on proposed recommendations about difficulties that arise when a clergyman transfers from one church to the other. A proposed text was refined and a process of consultation with appropriate bodies in the two churches will now be undertaken. Further revisions resulting from these consultations will be considered at the next meeting.

Msgr. John Strynkowski, Rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St. James in Brooklyn, New York, spoke on the development of doctrine using principles from Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Development of Doctrine. He applied these to the Christological controversies of the early Church and the Eucharistic controversies at the time of the Reformation.

Members also considered two Roman Catholic Marian dogmas, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. The PNCC members distributed a text on the Mother of God taken from “The Road to Unity,” a collection of agreed statements of the joint Old Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission that was adopted by a PNCC General Synod in 1990. Both churches have devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and seek her intercession, but differ over the Pope’s authority to raise these Marian teachings to the level of dogma.

Members of the dialogue also prayed together in the chapel of the Polish National Catholic Church Center, where Bishop Mikovsky presided over an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.

The next meeting of the dialogue is slated to take place in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 11 and 12, 2010.

Editor’s note: The PNCC was established in the 19th century from Polish Roman Catholics and is found primarily in the US. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes the PNCC’s clerical orders and other sacraments. The two churches have an agreement permitting sacramental sharing in exceptional circumstances. The PNCC was in full communion with the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht until recently when the latter decided to ordain women. As this press release indicates, a central issue in the continuing dialogue between the RCC and the PNCC is the role and authority of the papacy.

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