Pontiff Expressed Closeness to Archbishop Wielgus

Papal Letter to Polish Prelate Published

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed his closeness and fraternity to Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus in a letter he sent to the prelate after the latter stepped down as head of the Warsaw Archdiocese.

Archbishop Wielgus admitted his involvement with the Communist secret service and resigned as head of the Warsaw Archdiocese on Jan. 7, the day he was to be installed.

Today the Vatican press office published the papal letter, dated Feb. 12, together with a communiqué of the Permanent Council of the Polish episcopal conference.

The communiqué noted that the apostolic nuncio of Poland, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, released the papal letter for publication.

In his message, Benedict XVI referred to the “beautiful letter” that Archbishop Wielgus wrote to the Holy Father on Jan. 8.

The Pope thanked him for the trust with which he opened his soul to him, “showing the painful suffering of your heart during the whole of your life as priest and bishop, up to the resignation from the office of archbishop of Warsaw.”

The Holy Father also expressed to Archbishop Wielgus his spiritual closeness and fraternal understanding: “I am fully aware of the exceptional circumstances in which you carried out your service, when the Communist regime in Poland used all means to suffocate the liberties of citizens and, in a special way, of the clergy.”

A greater good

In his letter the Pontiff noted that the Polish prelate’s voluntary resignation demonstrated “a profound sensitivity for the good of the Church of Warsaw and of Poland, and also … humility and detachment from offices.”

Benedict XVI underlined the qualities and trajectory of Archbishop Wielgus who, as rector of the University of Lublin and as bishop of Plock, gave “proof of great devotion and profound love of Jesus Christ and of his Church.”

The Pope encouraged the archbishop to resume his “activity at the service of Christ, in the way that is possible,” so that he will use his “vast and profound knowledge and priestly devotion for the good of the beloved Church in Poland.”

Benedict XVI also acknowledged that “today, as in the past, the episcopal ministry is marked by suffering.”

Therefore, he prayed for the support of divine grace for Archbishop Wielgus, aware that he would also be helped “by the friendship of brother bishops and of persons who have known and esteemed” him.

Today, Ash Wednesday, was designated by the bishops of Poland as a day of prayer and repentance for all the country’s priests.

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