On Saturday, 9 September, in the packed Mary Magdalene Cathedral in Wrocław, four new bishops were consecrated for the three dioceses of the Polish Catholic Church by the Dutch Bishop Dirk Schoon (Diocese of Haarlem). The office of Presiding Bishop of the Polish Catholic Church and Bishop of the Diocese of Warsaw was assumed by Andrzej Gontarek; he was assisted by Auxiliary Bishop Henryk Dąbrowski. Antoni Norman became Bishop of the diocese of Kraków-Czestochowa. The diocese of Wrocław is now led by Bishop Stansisław Bosy. Co-consecrators at this consecration were the Austrian Bishop emeritus John Okoro and the Czech Bishop Pavel B. Stránský. Archbishop Bernd Wallet (Archdiocese of Utrecht) and the Anglican Bishop David Hamid also participated in the laying on of hands. The Old Catholic Church of Switserland was represented by Father Christoph Schuler, the German diocese by Father Oliver Kaiser and Father Walter Jungbauer.
In his sermon, Bishop Schoon emphasized that with this consecration service, the Polish Catholic Church is at the beginning of a new era after a period of uncertainty. The office of the bishop is the office of a bridge builder: “A bishop is bearer of the highest office in the Catholic Church, and Catholic in the old Catholic understanding means: in communion with other Churches led by bishops”. Together, he said, they are the successors of the apostles. The unity of the Church manifests itself where the bishop presides at the celebration of the Eucharist.
Bishop Schoon made it clear that the world is changing rapidly. The issues of climate change, dealing with refugees or the war in Ukraine are key points here. As Christians of all denominations, we experience the world as a gift from God in which we share the joys and sorrows of life. With the new bishops, the Polish Catholic Church now had a new chance to work for the unity and cooperation of the whole people of God. He gratefully recalled the commitment of Bishop Wiktor Wysoczanski, who died a few months ago, and whose concern had always been to keep the small Polish Catholic Church together in the large country of Poland. “And in the Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches, we hope that the voice of the Polish Church will resound again, with the fire and zeal for the faith that traditionally characterizes the Polish soul,” Bishop Schoon said.
In a greeting on behalf of the Union of Utrecht, the Archbishop of Utrecht, Bernd Wallet, as President of the International Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference (IBC), congratulated the newly consecrated bishops. He made it clear that the four new bishops stood together at the door between the world and the Church. “This door opens from the world to the Church, where we arrive at home with God. And also from the Church to the world, where we all have our vocation to offer people prospects for a good life in the freedom of God’s children.”
In addition to the clergy of the Polish Catholic Church and from various churches of the Union of Utrecht, numerous oecumenical representatives were also present at the service.