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Polish National Catholic Church
The Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) is a former member of the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht and was the only member church of the Union of Utrecht based outside Western or Central Europe (though it was not so when the Philippine Independent or Aglipayan Church briefly joined the Union of Utrecht). The PNCC left the Utrecht Union over a variety of issues, most critically the elevation of women to the priesthood by other Utrecht Union Churches.
The PNCC was founded in the late 1800s in North America by Polish Roman Catholics resentful of diocesan ownership of their parishes and the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church in North America at that time by German and Irish prelates. (In this way the movement response for the PNCC's formation resembles the movement amongst the Ruthenian/Carpatho-Russian Uniates in North America away from Roman Catholicism and towards Orthodoxy.) Its first leader and bishop was Francis Hodur.
The PNCC was the largest member of the Union of Utrecht with approximately 250,000 members. All orders of its clergy are allowed to marry (including bishops) and the Holy Mass is celebrated in both Polish (the vernacular of the PNCC's founders) and local vernaculars. As a member of the Union of Utrecht the PNCC rejects a number of Roman Catholic dogmas insisting that they are theological novelties, including the infallibility of the Pope, the Immaculate Conception of Mary the Ever-Virgin and Mother of God, and original sin.
Although the PNCC has entered into tentative negotiations with the Orthodox Church in North America, no union has resulted due to the PNCC's refusal to abandon several Western concepts (the Western view of the Holy Trinity and of the sacraments included).
The hierarchy of the PNCC is also in dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, but progress toward unification stopped abruptly when the PNCC was not willing to abandon former Roman Catholic priests who had left to marry, and been recieved into the PNCC. The junior clergy and people evince no interest in joining up with Rome, and indeed, many have joined Episcopalian or Lutheran congregations, as the Polish ethnic thread has become diluted since WWII.
There is no convincing evidence for the 250,000 figure. Inside and outside observers place the total much lower. In the United States, as of 1998, total membership is approximately 60,000.
Encyclopedia of American Religions, J. Gordon Melton, editor. 6th Ed., 1999. pp 93-94.
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