Polish National Catholic Church was founded in the late 19th century in the US by the Polish-American people, mostly Roman-Catholics, who were dismayed with the hierarchy of Roman-Catholic Church on many social and religious issues, such as, mistreatment and negligence of ethnic values of Polish, Lithuanian, and Slavic Immigrants, not allowing lay people their involvement in church governing life, not allowing native languages in Liturgy of Holy Mass,(Latin was the liturgical language), disputes on church properties ownership, and many other social concerns of the time. As one example, the US Catholic Church had no Polish bishops and only had few Polish priests. Mostly Irish and German bishops had been governing the US Church. Polish Immigrants arriving from the occupied Poland for over 120 years by German, Austrian, and Russian Empires, quickly learned the unjust social unfairness in Catholic Church of US. The plea for acceptance of people’s demands for improvement and more fairness in social structure in parishes has been carried by people’s delegation to Rome Holy Sea, but it was bluntly ignored and dismissed. Consequently the new movement broke off from the Roman-Catholic Church and anchored its Catholic Roots and Beliefs in the Line of Apostolic Succession via the Old Catholic Church of Europe. The first organizer of PNCC, Fr. Francis Hodur, was consecrated a Bishop by the Bishops of Old Catholic Church of Europe. The name of PNCC stands for the following: Polish – for the original Polish immigrants, who have started the movement; National – for expressing the faith through the richness of national heritages; Catholic – for holding the Catholic Doctrine as the Treasure carried through generations from the Apostles; Church – for being the vital part of Universal Church instituted by Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, many disputing issues that caused division and separation between these two churches, the Roman-Catholic church has adopted them as its own at the Vatican Council II in the 1960-ties. (More on History read “Journeying Together In Christ”, edited by Most Rev. Robert M. Nemkovich PNCC Bishop, and Most Rev. James C. Timlin Rom.-Catholic Bishop. The book contains the Report of the Polish National Catholic and Roman Catholic Dialogue 1989-2002).
Ecumenical Dialogue Roman-Catholic and PNCC – In the 1980-ties the constructive dialogue have begun between the two churches, especially encouraged by the Pope John Paul II. The representing bishops of both churches have started regular ecumenical meetings conducted by-yearly to this day. The intense studies on theological differences that had been developed on both sides over the years of separation have being discussed during regular ecumenical meetings. The first result of ecumenical meetings was the 1996 arrangement, called by historian Orzech “the limited inter-communion.” What this means is that the Roman-Catholic Church recognizes the validity of the Sacraments of the Polish National Catholic Church, on bases of which the members of PNCC can receive in Roman-Catholic church the Sacrament of Confession, Eucharist, and the Sacrament of the Sick (Last Rites). At this point the Ecumenical talks are focusing on the issue of Primacy of Pope: how these two churches differ in understanding the Primacy of Pope.(See below: PNCC View on Primacy of Pope). For more information on Ecumenical Dialogue read: “Journeying Together In Christ”, the book containing the Report of the Polish National Catholic and Roman Catholic Dialogue 1989-2002.