Controversy over new Archbishop of Warsaw

Controversy over new Archbishop of Warsaw

Polish Catholics have asked for a delay in the installation of the new archbishop of Warsaw, who is replacing the retiring Primate of Poland, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, tomorrow because of revelations that Archbishop-elect Stanislaw Wielgus may have worked with the Communist-era secret police.

Church investigators reported finding “numerous” documents showing that the future prelate was engaged in “conscious and secret cooperation with the security organs of Communist Poland” beginning in 1978. At that time Wielgus was a teacher at Lublin University.

The investigatory panel will send its full conclusions and documentation to the Vatican for review. The panel said that the archbishop-elect had told Pope Benedict XVI about his contacts with Communist government agents; it was not clear how the Polish bishop had characterized those contacts when he spoke with the Pontiff.

Wielgus says he never informed on his acquaintances and that his contacts with the secret police were routine. He said that “he met with government agents only to obtain the necessary permission for his travel and study abroad.”

NCR’s John Allen reports that Polish journalists maintain it was more than that.

Polish journalists asserted yesterday that documents obtained from Poland’s Institute of National Memory show Wielgus operated under the codename “Grey,” that he underwent special training for secret service agents, and even that at one point he attempted to infiltrate Radio Free Europe.

“He was one of the most important collaborators of the communist intelligence in the Church,” said Tomasz Sakiewicz, editor of the Gazeta Polska newspaper, on Polish radio.

It’s important to keep in mind that Wielgus says the Gazeta Polska documents are false and that we don’t know if there is an orchestrated campaign to undermine Wielgus or the Church’s influence.

Evaluating the evidence is tricky, Polish sources say, because it’s often hard to know if the recollections of those involved, as well as the files themselves, can be trusted. Those accused of collaboration have an incentive for downplaying their roles, but the security forces also sometimes inflated the significance of their contacts, according to Polish experts, in order to impress their Communist superiors. That means that someone might have been described as a “valuable informant” who in reality was not passing along anything of relevance.

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  • Dom

    You might want to update this to reflect that the abp-designate retracted his denials a couple of days ago….