What is the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC)?

I am from Buffalo, NY; an area with a large Polish immigrant community from the turn of the 20th century. I have noticed a few churches and cemeteries devoted to the PNCC. What is the history of this church and is it in communion with Rome and/or have valid sacraments?

Wikipedia states the following:

The Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) is a Christian church founded and based in the United States by Polish-Americans who were Roman Catholic. The PNCC is an independent Catholic church in dialogue with the Catholic Church; it seeks full communion with the Holy See although it differs theologically in several important respects. The Polish National Catholic Church welcomes people of all ethnic, racial and social backgrounds. A sister church in Poland, likewise not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, is the Polish Catholic Church.

It appears that the PNCC emerged from discontent among Polish-American Catholics over their alienation from Roman Catholic hierarchy in America, which was largely drawn from the Irish and German communities. Wikipedia states the following:

*During the late 19th century many Polish immigrants to the U.S. became dismayed with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. The U.S. Church had no Polish bishops and few Polish priests, and would not allow the Polish language to be taught in parish schools. The mainly ethnic Irish and German bishops helped establish hundreds of parishes for Poles, but priests were usually unable to speak Polish, and the new immigrants had poor or limited English. There were also disputes over who owned church property, particularly in Buffalo, New York and Scranton, Pennsylvania, with the parishioners demanding greater control. Although the majority of Polish-Americans remained with the Roman Catholic Church, where bilingual Polish-American priests and bishops were eventually ordained, many Polish-Americans in the meantime came to believe that these conditions were a manifestation of “political and social exploitation of the Polish people.”[9]

A leader in this struggle was Fr. Franciszek Hodur (1866–1953), a Polish immigrant to the United States and a Catholic priest. Born near Kraków, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1893 and was ordained that year; in 1897, he became pastor of St. Stanislaus Cathedral in Scranton. Continued discontent led to an open rupture with the U.S. Catholic Church in 1897, when Polish immigrants founded an independent Polish body, headquartered in Scranton, with initially some 20,000 members. Fr. Hodur was consecrated as a bishop in 1907 in Utrecht, Netherlands, by three Old Catholic bishops. The PNCC considers him to be the founder and first bishop of the denomination.[10] In 1914 another schism resulted in the formation of the smaller Lithuanian National Catholic Church; it later merged with the PNCC.*

I wonder if they have valid sacraments/Holy Orders. I recall years ago finding in a box of old family photos the invite to an ordination Mass of a distant relative being ordained priest in the PNCC. We have not seen nor heard from him in 30+ years, The only thing Google turns up is he was using an Episcopal church in NYC to say Mass.

The RCC considers PNCC orders valid/illicit.

So their orders are in the same boat as, say, the SSPX?

Well, in a way. The difference is that the PNCC (nowadays they often drop the first word, in the US) acknowledges that it is, in fact, a separate denomination. They have laity, pastors and bishops-ordinaries, in charge of their own dioceses. The PNCC don’t maintain they are part of the RCC. The SSPX has no actual laity, they have no pastors or parishes, just chapels schools and retreat houses. There are no SSPX bishops ordinaries in charge of any diocese of any kind. Their bishops and priests are just sacramental ministers.

It seems to be a disputed point as to whether the SSPX ** organization as such** is part of the Catholic Church in irregular status, as its supporters claim; or if the organization has no ecclesiastic status at all; but most if not all their clergy as individuals would be considered as in the RCC, but unassigned, and acting illicitly. The situation likely would vary from person to person. The SSPX would not recognize any bishop as ordinary of your diocese of Buffalo. They do recognize Francis in some way as their pope. The PNCC recognizes Francis as the RCC’s pope and Bishop Malone as the local RCC bishop ordinary; but they have their own bishop ordinary for that city.

The SSPX of course has the same 7 sacraments as RCC. The PNCC lists 7 sacraments; some websites list the same “Roman” 7. But other websites or churches vary a little - they combine Confirmation and Baptism as 1 sacrament, in 2 events; but add a sacrament for “Hearing the Word of God”. I suspect that one trend is replacing the other, but you can find both if you look around.

To my mind, the local SSPX clergy, if any, are in effect defying the local RCC Catholic bishop Ordinary. They local PNCC clergy would likely not consider themselves defying the RCC bishop, (or the EO bishop, the Anglican bishop, or any other bishop); they are obedient to their own totally separate ordinary, and hierarchy.

The best place to find out about the PNCC, and SSPX, is from those people themselves.

Thank you for this post.

For any Church/Denomation, its sacraments are valid and licit.

It is not for us to say that their sacraments are not licit. That is like saying that the Eastern or Oriental Orthodox Churches have valid but illicit sacraments.

Good post.

For the record, I believe there are discussions between myself and GKC from a few years ago, in which I asked him to stop claiming that the Vatican called the sacraments of the PNCC or EOs (or OOs) “illicit”, unless he could provide a quote/cititation. Otherwise it is just a rumor.

Does anyone know if St. John Paul II with his Polish roots attempted any kind of reconciliation with the PNCC and healing of the breach which caused their separation?

I accept rumor. But I suspect it is the actuality. In any case, it’s above my pay grade. Anyone with specific, demonstrable info either way, pitch in. Learning is a good thing.

Alright, but then I have to ask: Do you accept rumors that are about your own denomination?

Not sure of his personal involvement, if any. But under the Communist government, the RCC in Poland was desperate for unity, in a fight for survival. The Communists didn’t especially like any kind of Christianity, but encouraged any kind of Catholic alternatives to the very much unified RCC bishops - which included him. The PNCC in Poland was an export from the USA, so it’s not like there was a Polish “breach” in Poland to be healed.

As pope, St JP II continued dialogue with the PNCC, at least at the (American) national level, and certain dioceses. He encouraged dialogue with practically everybody. In the USA, the PNCC has de emphasized its Polish heritage, the language in liturgy is now usually English.

The PNCC developed at a time when most American bishops were Irish, and Poles, and Italians, and others sometimes felt their needs were neglected. They sort of affiliated with the Old Catholic Movement, which made an issue about Papal Infallibility. But they have since distanced themselves from that movement, which has become very liberal. They also affiliated with the Episcopal Church from the late 1940s to the late 1970s, again moving away due to perceived liberalism.

Depends on the rumors. If they relate to things I can definitively refute (or confirm), with citation and sources, I do so. If not, then I might say yea or nay, as to my understanding. It is more difficult to find definitive statements re: Anglicanism, than it should be to do so in this circumstance. Somewhere, there must be a definite statement on it. Absent that, my logic and understanding on the general point is back at that 6 year old thread. Not much has changed. Not going to run through it again.

I’d d note that I haven’t mentioned any Orthodox in this thread, though.

I think running through it again would be literally pointless. Indeed, even if someone read through 1,000,000 Vatican documents, they would still not have disproven your claim that such a statement exists, because there would always be the possibility that they didn’t read the right 1,000,000 documents.

Or maybe we get lucky and someone happens to have more definitive info, fortuitously. Could happen.

BTW, I don’t know if such a document exists. I reason from what is said in Ott, mainly, plus a few other things, as to what the RCC attitude would be on the subject. And you are the only person I’ve ever had (as it seems) categorically reject that.You could be right. What you might point to to support that, I dunno.

As stated, not going to do it again.

Well, let’s just say that such a statement, if it exists, would quite a surprise to me.

Well, okay yeah :D, but it is only fortuitous in that your claim (Somewhere, there must be a definite statement on it.) would be very easy to prove (if true) but extremely difficult to disprove (if false).

No, as I said, I have no idea if there is a statement like that or not. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I don’t know it or assume it, as a fact. But if someone else knows more on the matter (than you or I), I solicit comment. I certainly would like to know how Ott, p. 458, applies to the question. If it is not as I am concluding, why not, based on what? That is, if Ott is not applicable, there must be something somewhere that spells out the exception.

Which is rehashing 6 years ago.

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