Polish National Catholic Church of America

Polish National Catholic Church of America

       Old Catholic church that arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among Polish immigrants in the United States who left the Roman Catholic Church. Polish immigrants were unhappy with the Roman Catholic Church in the United States for several reasons, including various internal disputes and dissatisfaction with priests, the absence of a bishop of Polish birth or descent in the American hierarchy, and the 1884 ruling that gave bishops the title to all diocesan properties.

      In 1896–97 members of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish in Scranton, Pa., founded an independent parish under the leadership of their former curate, Reverend Francis Hodur. They launched a petition calling for ownership by Polish parishes of property built by their members, parish-wide elections of administrators of such property, and no appointment by bishops of non-Polish priests to such parishes without the consent of the parishioners. Excommunication followed. Father Hodur's parish became the nucleus of a movement that took in other seceded congregations. In 1904 a synod, in Scranton, of independent parishes voted to form one body and chose its present name. It also adopted a constitution, elected a lay-clerical Supreme Council, and unanimously elected Hodur bishop. On Sept. 29, 1907, he was consecrated in Utrecht, Neth., by bishops of the Old Catholic church.

      Liturgically, the Polish National Catholic Church resembles the Roman Catholic Church. From 1900 masses were in Polish, but in the 1960s English masses were permitted if the parishes desired them. Doctrinally, the church is based on the Scriptures, tradition, decrees of the first four ecumenical councils, and decrees of its own synods. In 1922 the requirement of clerical celibacy was abolished. General rather than private confession is made by adults. Between synods, executive power in the church rests with the prime bishop and Supreme Council, which consists of all bishops and the seminary rector, and a lay and a clerical representative from each of the church's five dioceses. Synods, consisting of all the clergy as well as lay delegates, are held every four years. Headquarters and a seminary are in Scranton. In 2004 the church claimed 60,000 members in more than 120 churches in the United States.

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Universalium. 2010.

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