Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wielgus: "I Confess"

In advance of his installation tomorrow, the incoming archbishop of Warsaw admitted that he agreed to cooperate with the Communist-era secret police. (Prior posts here and here.)

A separate investigation by the Polish church also announced that sufficient evidence "indicated" that Archbishop-elect Stanislaw Wielgus had "willingly corroborated" with the former regime's intelligence operation.
Wielgus... expressed regret for an act that he acknowledged "harmed the church." He said that despite signing the document [pledging cooperation], he "never informed on anyone and never tried to hurt anyone."

"Before you today, I confess to the mistake committed by me years ago, just as I have confessed to the Holy Father," Wielgus said in an open letter to Poland's Roman Catholic clergy and believers....

The scandal grew after church officials said Friday that documents at a historical institute indicated Wielgus had willingly collaborated. A church commission said documents "confirm Rev. Stanislaw Wielgus's willingness for conscious and secret cooperation with the security organs of Communist Poland." The statement added, however, that there is no proof that he "inflicted any harm on anyone."

Newspapers on Friday devoted their front pages to the revelations. A government commission also concluded he had collaborated.

The allegations surfaced in the right-wing Gazeta Polska weekly, two weeks after the Vatican appointed Wielgus archbishop of Warsaw. He initially denied any collaboration.

In a statement Friday, Wielgus acknowledged that he had contact with the secret service, but he said documents indicating he collaborated were written by the secret police and reflected their account of events, not the truth.

Wielgus, who has been bishop of Plock since 1999, said he was leaving his fate in the hands of the pope: "With full humility, I declare to the Holy Father that I will submit to each of his decisions."...

During a visit to Warsaw in May 2006, Benedict cautioned against passing judgment on people who lived in different times, remarks that came in the wake of similar allegations against a Polish priest.

"We must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations who lived in different times and in different circumstances," Benedict told clergy. His comments were met with applause.

AP/PAP/Pawel Kubicki