Poland: Mgr Wielgus will not be Cardinal Glemp’s successor

Source: FSSPX News


On December 6, Benedict XVI appointed Mgr Stanislaw Wojciech Wielgus archbishop of Warsaw after having accepted the resignation of Cardinal Jozef Glemp who had reached the age limit. The Cardinal turned 77 on December 18, and will keep his title of “primate of Poland” until his eightieth year in accordance with the pope’s wishes.

Mgr Wielgus, born on April 23, 1939, was ordained priest in June 1962 and consecrated bishop of Plock in 1999. From 1962 to 1969, he was curate in a parish while studying philosophy at the Catholic University of Lublin, where he then taught philosophy from 1969 to 1999. He went to Bavaria to study history of medieval philosophy (1973-1975 and 1978). In 1989, he was appointed rector of the Catholic University of Lublin for three successive terms.

A few days after the appointment of Archbishop Wielgus to Warsaw, Tomasz Sakiewicz, editor of the Polish weekly Gazeta Polska, published “The secret history of the metropolitan” and declared that the archbishop might have been “one of the most important collaborators of the communist intelligence service inside the Church.”

This accusation resulted in the release of a communiqué from the Holy See Press Office on December 21: “The Holy See, when deciding upon the appointment of the new metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw took into account all the circumstances of his life, including those concerning his past. This means that the Holy Father has full confidence in Archbishop Wielgus and that, with full knowledge of the facts, he has entrusted to him the charge of pastor of the archdiocese of Warsaw.”

A declaration from the Polish Bishops’ Conference (KEP), signed by Bishop Jozef Michalik, its president, Bishop Stanislas Gadecki, vice-president and Bishop Piotr Libera, secretary general, was also circulated. “Concerning the accusations leveled at Bishop Stanislas Wielgus by some of the Polish media, the presidency of the Polish Bishops Conference calls attention to the public offense they have committed against a person’s right to a good reputation.” “The situation which has ensued causes us concern which is so much the greater in view of the fact that a clear example was given of the procedure adopted to recognize responsibility in collaborating with the intelligence service of the communist regime. Such a situation is particularly offensive in the case of an ecclesiastic. As a matter of fact, the simple affirmation that a priest had a conversation with representatives of the communist intelligence service cannot in itself prove an immoral collaboration given the fact that such conversations often had a bureaucratic character or had to take place for pastoral reasons, or for the continuation of studies, with the consent of the bishop.” For this reason, we call for the respect of the decision of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who showed his confidence in the person appointed, by entrusting to him the charge of metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw.”

On January 4, 2007, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita affirmed: “The new metropolitan of Warsaw was for more than 20 years a fully aware secret collaborator of the secret communist police, the State Security (SB). Documents confirm this.” These documents come from the Institute of National Memory (IPN) which keeps the archives of the special services during the communist era. These allegedly prove that the prelate was recruited by the SB in 1967, when he was still a philosophy student at the Catholic University of Lublin, and that in 1978 he signed an agreement to collaborate, transmitted information on the running of the University of Lublin, used the pseudonyms of Grey, Adam, Adam Wysocki, underwent a “special training for agents” and benefited from a scholarship to study in Munich thanks to the support of the SB.

On January 5, the inquiry commission of the Polish Church – created in March 2006 by Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow – acknowledged that “There are many important documents confirming the fact that Father Stanislaw Wielgus had declared himself ready to collaborate, in full awareness and secrecy with the communist organs of security, and that he had begun this collaboration”, without however producing any documents from the bishop nor proving that his oral reports to the communist services ever harmed anyone. – The Holy See Press Office did not make any comment at that time, merely referring to its communiqué of December 21, 2006.

In its January 5 broadcast, Radio Vatican confirmed that the new archbishop would “canonically take possession of the archdiocese of Warsaw” that very day at 4.00 pm, and that his official entry into St John the Baptist cathedral would take place on Sunday January 7, according to schedule. The Radio also broadcast a declaration by Bishop Wielgus: “I did not harm anyone by my words or actions. Various intentions and bad attitudes towards the Church have been attributed to me. This is false. There is no document to prove this, outside of the words of the official who judged my person and the whole affair in his own way.” “I do not want to justify myself.” “I know that I ought not to have any relationship with the services of the communist regime in Poland. I am very sorry I undertook those travels outside Poland which were the motives for these contacts. It seemed to me at the time, that I ought to carry on my important scientific research, and acquire a formation for the good of the Church.” Mgr Wielgus acknowledged that “under duress” he signed a document concerning his collaboration with the Polish intelligence services in 1978, on the eve of a trip to Germany.

On Sunday, January 7, Mgr Stanislaw Wielgus, new metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw renounced his apostolic charge because of the pressure. A communiqué from the nunciature of Warsaw, signed by the Nuncio Mgr Joseph Kowalczyk, specified that Benedict XVI had accepted the resignation presented according to Canon Law and had appointed Cardinal Josef Glemp diocesan administrator of Warsaw “until further dispositions”. Instead of the ceremony of enthronement, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated for Cardinal Glemp, primate of Poland during which Bishop Wielgus announced, with tears in his eyes: “I give my resignation as metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw to His Holiness.” Some of the faithful showed their support by crying out: “No! No, you can’t do that!” and “Stay with us”, while others applauded. Mgr Glemp, who was applauded several times during his homily, specified: “Bishop Wielgus has been judged and condemned without advocates, without witnesses, on the basis of scraps of paper, and copies of copies. (…) He was forced into collaboration by harassment. The Political police was a vast organization which penetrated all levels of Polish society and in particular, the clergy, which was the most independent and most patriotic organization.”

Father Federico Lombardi, general director of Radio Vatican and of the Press Office of the Holy See announced that same day: “Archbishop Wielgus’ conduct in the past years of the communist regime seriously compromised his authority, even with the faithful. Therefore, despite his humble and touching request for forgiveness, his resignation from the See of Warsaw and its prompt acceptance on the part of the Holy Father, seemed an appropriate way to address the confusion that has been created in that country.” “It is a time of great suffering for the Church in Poland to which we owe much and which we love, and which has given us pastors of the stature of Cardinal Wyszynski and Pope John Paul II. The universal Church must unite herself spiritually to the Church in Poland and support her with prayer so that she may soon recover her serenity.”

Moreover, continued Fr. Lombardi, “the case of Archbishop Wielgus is not the first and will probably not be the last case of an attack against a personality of the Church, based on documentation from the security services of the former regime.” And “it should not be forgotten that these documents were produced by officials of an oppressive and blackmailing regime.” “So many years after the end of the communist regime, with the loss of the great and unassailable figure of Pope John Paul II, the current wave of attacks against the Catholic Church in Poland, rather than a sincere search for transparency and truth, has many hallmarks of being a strange alliance between the persecutors of the past and their adversaries, and (seems like) a vendetta by those who used to persecute the Church and were defeated by the faith and the thirst for freedom of the Polish people, rather than being a sincere search for openness and truth.” “‘The truth will make you free’, says Christ. The Church is not afraid of the truth, and her members, in order to be faithful to their Lord, must be able to acknowledge their own faults. We hope that the Church in Poland will be able to live through and surmount this difficult period courageously and with lucidity, so that she will be able to continue to offer her precious and outstanding contribution of faith and evangelical fervor to the universal Church.”

On January 8, the Polish dailies ran the following headlines: “The pope saves the Church from shame”, “Help came from Rome”; “The pope rescued us”. The center-left daily Gazta Wyborcza deplored the failings of the Church in Poland. The center-right daily Rzeczpospolita declared: “The decision from Rome is a victory for (the) conscience. Fundamental notions recover their original meaning.” However, the Nasz Dziennik, close to Radio Maryja, denounced a “wave of hatred towards the archbishop” and a campaign of “terror led by the media” in Poland.

Mgr Wielgus, concerned about the formation of the faithful, had warned the Poles against the secularism which was spreading like a new religion in the West, the monopoly of a “new left” ideology, which advocates unlimited freedom for man. Desirous to fight against religious indifference, which he ascribed to the faithful’s ignorance, he had set up in his diocese, catechism classes for adults and had given his support to Radio Maryja for the evangelization of the Poles. When his appointment was announced at the beginning of December Gazeta Wyborcza had declared: “Many are those who do not at all accept talks on religious faith, and even less Radio Maryja’s.”

Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, former director of the Holy See Press Office, spoke up in the daily La Repubblica on January 8. “As I learned myself during my stay in Poland at the beginning of the 90s, you must have a good knowledge of the situation in order to place the facts in their right perspective,” explained John Paul II’s associate. “In this spirit, the reasons given by the new Polish archbishop, namely the possibility of studying abroad and of guaranteeing his own safety, describe a situation and a logic which were very widespread at the time in the Eastern countries.” As a matter of fact, Archbishop Wielgus “would never have been granted authorization to study abroad if he had not accepted the compromise offered by the regime.” This situation “was common for many of his fellow countrymen, whether priests or laymen. Many priests and bishops lived ‘in a continual tension between heroism and compromise, in which everything depended upon the ideological whim of those in power.” “On this very obvious reality”, the former spokesman of the Holy See, said that John Paul II, “referring to these facts, used to say that we had to learn to forgive. Despite the fact that there is no need of forgiveness for the ‘faults’ of so many people during those years. The communist secret service tried to enlist Karol Wojtyla, and I heard pope John Paul II say with some irony that he had been convoked by the police for unavoidable and frequent interrogations.” The pope had added that the communist secret service “thought that one day he might have collaborated.”

In the same spirit Benedict XVI addressed the Polish clergy in St John’s cathedral on May 25 during his visit to Poland. “We must nevertheless guard against the pretension of arrogantly making ourselves the judges of the preceding generations, who lived in other times and under other circumstances. We need a humble sincerity in order not to deny the sins of the past, without however falling into easy accusations in the absence of real proofs or without knowing the prejudices of that time.”

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops, explained in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on January 8: “When Archbishop Wielgus was appointed, we knew nothing of his collaboration with the secret services,” – so the implicit responsibility for this dossier seems to be attributed to Mgr Jozef Kowalczyk, apostolic nuncio in Warsaw, in charge of the inquiry preceding the appointment. In January 9 edition, Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, who investigates the religious collaborators with the secret services of his country, affirmed that Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus was “an important agent” of the communist police. Upon reading the documents, it appears that he collaborated with the Polish security service (SB) and also with the intelligence services inside the Polish Republic.

On the other hand, Bishop Tadeuz Pieronek, former secretary of the Polish Bishops Conference declared: “The free use of the archives of the former secret police will continue to cause damage for a long time, perhaps for years. We will probably see new names coming up in the next days, and we run the risk of giving the world the impression of a gang war.”

On the day after the resignation of Archbishop Wielgus, the archdiocese of Warsaw published a communiqué announcing the resignation of Canon Janusz Bielanski, age 68, parish priest of the Cathedral of Wawel in Krakow: “Following accusations of collaboration with the secret services of communist Poland, Fr. Janusz Bielanski placed himself at the disposal of the archbishop of Krakow on January 2, 2007. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz has accepted this resignation.”