Commission for Dialogue of the Conference of the Polish Episcopate and the Polish Ecumenical Council
Composition of the CommissionRoman Catholic Church
- Bishop Krzysztof Nitkiewicz – joint chairman of the Commission, chairman of the Council of the Conference of the Polish Episcopate for Ecumenism
- Bishop Andrzej Czaja
- Bishop Andrzej Siemieniewski
- Bishop Marek Solarczyk
Polish Ecumenical Council
- Bishop Jerzy Samiec (Evangelical Lutheran Church) – joint chairman of the Commission, president of the Polish Ecumenical Council
- Archbishop Abel (Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church)
- Bishop M. Karol Babi (Old Catholic Mariavite Church)
- Bishop Marek Izdebski (Evangelical Reformed Church)
Circumstances in which the Commission was established
In 1974 the Mixed Commission of the Polish Ecumenical Council and the Episcopal Commission on Ecumenism was created, thus establishing official contacts between the Council and the Roman Catholic Church. In 1977 the Mixed Commission appointed a Sub-commission for Dialogue, to deal with talks on theological subjects.
To increase the ecclesiastical standing of these contacts, the Mixed Commission and the Sub-commission for Dialogue were replaced in 1997 by the Commission for Dialogue of the Conference of the Polish Episcopate and the Polish Ecumenical Council. Each partner – the Roman Catholic Church and the Polish Ecumenical Council – delegated four bishops to work on the new Commission. The Commission’s first joint chairmen were the then chairman of the Council of the Conference of the Polish Episcopate for Ecumenism, Archbishop Alfons Nossol, and the then president of the Polish Ecumenical Council, Bishop Jan Szarek of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The Commission’s work
The Commission addressed the issue of mutual recognition of the validity of Holy Baptism by the various Churches. On 23 January 2000 this work culminated in the signing of the document “The Sacrament of Baptism – a Sign of Unity” by the heads of six Member Churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council and by the Roman Catholic Church. In it, the signatories declare their mutual recognition of the validity of baptism.
In its talks, the Commission also discusses current topics connected with ecumenism in Poland and abroad. Work is continuing on a book in which the Churches affiliated in the Polish Ecumenical Council and the Roman Catholic Church present themselves.
Since 2000 the Commission has been dealing with the question of marriages between people from different denominations. A pastoral manual concerning such marriages is being prepared. Work on the final version of this document is currently under way.
Commissions of the Polish Ecumenical Council
Christian Education Commission
The Polish Ecumenical Council’s Christian Education Commission monitors catechesis, the educational and tutelary work of individual Churches of the Council, and publications (such as school textbooks) referring to Christian Churches in Poland.
The Dialogue Commission conducts theological dialogue on various aspects of the life and activity of the Churches. Mutual recognition of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism was an important issue on which the Churches agreed a joint standpoint. One issue in which the Commission is currently involved is the question of marriages between people from different denominations. Theological dialogue is conducted between representatives of the Churches affiliated in the Polish Ecumenical Council, and also with the Roman Catholic Church and other Churches not belonging to the Council.
The Diaconal Commission groups representatives of Member Churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council who are involved in diaconal (charity) work. The commission’s main activity is the annual Diaconal Conferences, its cyclical meetings, the exchange of information concerning diaconal activity in the various Churches, and study visits to ecclesiastical diaconal centres in Poland and abroad. One effect of the commission’s work is the cooperation with Caritas Poland in the Christmas Eve Children’s Aid Work.
Commission for Women
The commission is made up of women from the Churches affiliated in the Polish Ecumenical Council. Its aim is:
- to work out a joint basis on which women representing different trends in Christianity can come together
- to jointly implement undertakings concerning various aspects of life
- to organize joint topical conferences (for example on violence, health, or the various faces of loneliness)
- to organize training sessions as well as assistance and information centres
- to participate in the ecumenical movement (Christian Unity Prayer Week, World Prayer Day, international conferences)
The Polish Ecumenical Council’s Commission for Women is a member of the Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women.
The Youth Commission of the Polish Ecumenical Council is concerned with matters relating to the life of young people from the seven Churches affiliated in the Council. It organizes ecumenical youth activities such as workshops for youth leaders, ecumenical camps and conventions, young people’s services in Christian Unity Prayer Week and other ecumenical services for young people. The commission cooperates with the Evangelical Church of Hesse-Nassau, hosting and sending delegates from and to Germany. It is also a member of the Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe (EYCE), which organizes many seminars for ecumenical youth leaders.
The Media Commission coordinates the media activity of Churches affiliated in the Polish Ecumenical Council. It cooperates with Polish TV’s Ecumenical Section. The commission’s members also act as consultants for TV and radio channels. One of its tasks is to prepare a schedule of services and programmes aired on various radio and TV channels.