Truth hurts, Polish bishops admit

"The church is not afraid of the truth, even if that is a difficult, shameful truth, and it sometimes hurts," Poland's bishops said in a letter announcing the establishment of a special commission to investigate links of all the country's bishops with the former communist regime.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports a week after the resignation of new Warsaw Archbishop Wielgus that the Polish bishops assured the faithful that there would be a complete disclosure made as to the possible involvement of clerics in spying under communism.

Referring to Archbishop Wielgus, who resigned over allegations of cooperation with the former communist regime, the bishops said that "it is not appropriate for us to judge a person and a comrade who has faithful served the Church for many years."

"We will support the archbishop with our prayers in the full revelation of the truth," the letter continued, adding that the church not only faced the challenge of searching for the truth but also had to contribute to social reconciliation.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that a Polish researcher, Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, is about to come out with a book naming 39 priests, including three bishops, who collaborated with the secret police between 1944 and 1989.

And in an interview published on Saturday, former Polish president Lech Walesa told an Italian newspaper that Bishop Wielgus's admission was provoked by former agents adept at "destabilisation".

The Nobel peace laureate told Corriere della Sera it was "no coincidence the [Wielgus] scandal exploded at the last moment".

"The men of the secret service acted in a calculated way, perfectly aware of the fuss this case would create in Poland, abroad and in the Vatican," Mr Walesa said. "They are specialists in destabilisation."

Defending himself, Archbishop Wielgus issued a statement on Saturday denying that he had concealed his cooperation with the communist-era secret police from Pope Benedict.

"I never spoke against the church, nor did I do or say anything bad against any clergy or lay people," Archbishop Wielgus said he had truthfully told the Vatican.

His statement came in response to the papal nuncio, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, who accused the bishop of withholding the truth about his collaboration from the Vatican.

"The information offered by Bishop Wielgus did not suggest any collaboration," Kowalczyk said, adding that future bishop candidates should have their communist-era files checked before their nominations.

Poland to check all bishops (Sydney Morning Herald, 14/1/07)
Polish Bishops: No Fear Of Truth In Communist-era Spy Scandal (, 13/1/07)
Polish Primate's Defense of Archbishop Wielgus (Zenit, 12/1/07)
Polish bishop denies concealing communist-era cooperation from Pope Benedict XVI (WHDH TV, Boston, 13/0/07)
Vatican approves Polish bishops Communist cleansing (Radio Polonia, 13/1/07)

Russian Catholics warn against rush to judgment as Polish bishops meet (CathNews, 10/1/07)
Wielgus misled Pope by failure to disclose communist-era links: reports (CathNews, 8/1/07)
New Warsaw Archbishop resigns over collaboration allegations (CathNews, 8/1/07)
Polish Cardinal says sorry over "super spy" slur (CathNews, 15/11/06)
Polish spies in John Paul II assassination attempt (CathNews, 13/10/06)
Cardinal claims Vatican priests spied on John Paul II (CathNews, 6/9/06)

15 Jan 2007

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