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Holy See Backs Warsaw Prelate Amid Accusations

Paper Says Archbishop Wielgus Collaborated With Communists

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2006 ( The Holy See and Poland’s bishops are defending the new archbishop of Warsaw, accused by a newspaper of having collaborated with the secret services of the then Communist regime.

Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, whom the Pope appointed to the Polish capital on Dec. 7, has denied the accusation made by the weekly Gazeta Polska, and considers the charges a “planned attack,” programmed perhaps “in view of the assumption of the new office.”

The accusations said that the 67-year-old prelate had collaborated with the Communists from the end of the 1960s to 1990.

In a communiqué today the Vatican press office explained: “The Holy See, in choosing to appoint the new metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw, took into consideration all the circumstances of his life, including those regarding his past.

“This means that the Holy See nourishes complete trust in Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus and, in full awareness, has entrusted him with the mission of pastor of the Archdiocese of Warsaw.”

In addition, the Vatican press office issued a note of the executive of the Polish episcopal conference, to draw “attention to the public injury that has been inflicted against a specific person’s right to a good reputation.”

“The situation that has been created provokes even greater unease because it is a clear example of ‘wildcat lustration,'” the bishops’ conference stated, using the term that refers to attributing responsibility for collaborating with the Communist security services.

Respect requested

“Such a situation is particularly offensive in the case of an ecclesiastic,” the bishops’ note added. “In fact, the simple fact of a conversation taking place between a priest and members of the Communist security services cannot of itself prove immoral collaboration; especially because, not infrequently, such conversations were of an administrative nature, or had to be undertaken for pastoral reasons or to study, and with the consent of the bishop.

“We thus request that respect be shown for the decision of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who has expressed his faith in the person appointed, entrusting him with the office of metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw.”

The Polish bishops’ statement continued: “Expressing our solidarity with Archbishop Wielgus, we entrust his person and the task he has been given to God.

“We trust that the media storm that has been created will not ruin the religious and family atmosphere that accompanies the feast of Christmas.”

Vatican Radio explained that “debated for some time in Poland is the need to clarify possible ‘infiltrations’ of Communist secret services in the different social realms of the country, without finding, for the time being, adequate proofs.”

“Given this situation, ‘media events’ have been created on the alleged collaboration of priests,” Vatican Radio added. “Without excluding real incidents, the majority of meetings between exponents of the clergy and of the secret services were routine contacts, proper of the time of real Socialism, imposed by the Communist regime on the Church, which tried to carry out its pastoral mission in the conditions imposed.”

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