At the core of its liturgical life, the Polish National Catholic Church affirms the need for a male priesthood (albeit married in most cases[1]) and the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist[2]. In general, the order of the Mass of the PNCC follows that of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).  This should be no surprise since the PNCC has inherited the liturgical tradition of the RCC and allows the limited intercommunion of the two denominations.  Nevertheless, there are some subtle and not so subtle differences a discerning eye can distinguish when the two Masses are compared.  This article will only focus on a few of such differences.

Forms of the Mass

The PNCC has adopted three forms of the Mass: the Traditional Mass, the Mass compiled by Bishop Francis Hodur, and the contemporary Mass.  This article will only consider the contemporary Mass. The RCC generally uses one form of the Mass.  However, there are other orders of the Mass celebrated in limited geographical regions or for various groups.  The Ambrosian Rite used in and around Milan, Italy is just one such example.  The Eastern Catholic Churches also use various liturgies, including the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the Liturgy of St. Basil.

Opening Hymn

The pew book of the PNCC[3] has a standard Hymn of Faith (“To Thee We Come”). [4] The Roman Missal and the guidelines followed in the United States specifies only the use of the Entrance Chant.[5]

The Penitential Rite

The PNCC Mass has a group (general) absolution during the introductory rite.   General absolutions are not allowed in the RCC except under extreme circumstances.[6]  Additionally, the formula of absolution is different.  The famous (and sometimes disputed) phrase “I absolve you from your sins”[7] used in the RCC has been augmented to show the PNCC is an agent of God when absolving sins.[8]

The Creed

The PNCC does not use the filioque in the recitation of the Creed. This follows the usage of the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches.[9]


The Prime Bishop is commemorated during the Mass as the head of the PNCC.  Obviously, the Pope is not.  

Eucharistic Prayers

The RCC uses four Eucharistic Prayers[10] while the PNCC uses five:

  • The First is based on the Traditional Roman Canon
  • The Second is based on the Canon of St. Hippolytus
  • The Third is based on the Canon of St. Basil and is labeled supplemental.
  • The Fourth is the Dutch Old Catholic Canon and is labeled as supplemental.
  • The Fifth is the Union of Utrecht Canon and is also labeled as supplemental.

Volumes could be written about each of these, but for the sake of brevity, only a few comments will be made here.  The Second Eucharistic Prayer of the RCC is also based on the Canon of St Hippolytus.[11]  The Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is a long and theologically dense service used only ten times per year in the  Eastern Church.[12]  There are also several other anaphorae associated with St. Basil, who is considered one of the four great Greek Doctors of the Catholic Church. [13]

The Old Dutch Catholic Church and the Union of Utrecht have too complex and too rich of a history to go into here.   For our purposes, it necessary to understand Father Francis Hodur, the founder of the PNCC obtained episcopal consecration from the Old Catholic Church. He was consecrated by the Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht and three other bishops, the foundation of the claim to Apostolic Succession by the PNCC.  The PNCC was previously a member of the Union of Utrecht but left in 2003 when other members of the Union began to ordain women to the priesthood.  This is particularly interesting since the current Mass book used in the PNCC was published in 1995, years before the PNCC broke connection with the Union of Utrecht Churches. The fifth Eucharistic Prayer is clearly labeled as a mass that could be used when the bishops of the various churches met.[14]  


Holy Communion is administered by intinction.  The unleavened host is dipped into the consecrated wine prior to distribution to the faithful.  This practice has an ancient heritage and is used in the Eastern Churches, both Orthodox and Catholic, where leavened bread is used in place of a host. Intinction is allowed in the RCC, but it is probably the least used of the methods of administering the sacrament.

Note:  all internet sources were accessed on June 1, 2019.

[1] As can be the bishops.  The PNCC does not follow the ancient tradition of the East, where a person may be married before their ordination to the diaconate.

[2] RCC parishioner may receive Communion at a PNCC parish if a Roman Catholic Church is not available that Sunday.

[3] Polish National Catholic Church (1995) The Sacrifice of the Mass. Scranton PA.


[5] as an example.


[7] The Congregation of Divine Worship  words of absolution are: Then the priest extends his hands over the penitent’s head (or at least extends his right hand) and says: God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. The penitent answers: Amen.

[8] May our Lord, Jesus Christ absolve you and, with His authority vested in me, I absolve you from all your sins; in the name of the Father, ✠ the Son and the Holy Spirit.

[9] Certainly, this is not the place to discuss the procession of the Holy Spirit and its place in the Creed!


[11] Sr. Hippolytus was a Roman theologian of the Third Century.  Interestingly enough, he was an antipope at one point but reconciled to the Church prior to his martyrdom.

[12] Those are: January 1, the Feast of the Circumcision, the five Sundays of Lent, the Vigils of Easter, Christmas and the Theophany, and Holy Thursday.


[14] The pew book notes this Eucharistic Prayer was approved by the International Bishops conference of the Union of Utrecht for use at concelebrations of Old Catholic Bishops.