Thursday, January 04, 2007

R-67 Polish archbishop-to-be was 'communist collaborator'

Polish archbishop-to-be was 'communist collaborator'

WARSAW (AFP) - Stanislaw Wielgus, who is poised to be sworn in as archbishop of Warsaw, was a "secret and conscious" collaborator with Poland's hated communist-era security forces, newspapers have reported......"The new archbishop of Warsaw was a secret and conscious collaborator with the communist police, the SB, for more than 20 years. Documents confirm this," conservative daily Rzeczpospolita wrote Thursday.

Wielgus, 67, was recruited by the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (SB) in 1967 when he was a philosophy student at the University of Lublin in eastern Poland, Rzeczpospolita wrote.

The newspaper also cited an agreement to work with the communist security forces, which it says was signed by Wielgus in 1978, and several other documents in which the SB claims Wielgus gave them information about the University of Lublin, where he worked for a time as a professor.

The newspaper also cited documents held by the National Remembrance Institute (IPN) -- set up in Poland in 1998 to prosecute Nazi and communist crimes -- which allegedly show that Wielgus used three pseudonyms for his work with the SB: "Grey", "Adam" and "Adam Wysocki"......Other documents held by the IPN show Wielgus was given "special training for agents" and rewarded for his collaboration with a grant to study in Munich, Rzeczpospolita said. ..... The same documents were cited Thursday by liberal weekly Wprost on its website, and the right-wing Gazeta Polska newspaper later the same day posted on its site a 68-page file held by the IPN on Wielgus.

"There is no doubt that he collaborated with communist intelligence from 1973 to 1978, but we don't know what motivated him or the effects of his collaboration," historian Andrzej Paczkowski said after reading the file.

Accusations were first levelled against Wielgus, who is due to take office on Sunday, last month when the Vatican announced he had been chosen to replace Cardinal Jozef Glemp.

He is not the first high-ranking cleric to be accused of working with the communists -- an accusation that evokes deep-seated unease in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland, where the church was in the forefront of opposition to the communists.

In 2005, the IPN said it had files showing that a Polish priest who was close to the late Polish-born pope, John Paul II, worked with the communist security services in the 1980s. John Paul II was pope from 1978 until his death in April 2005.

When that row blew up, weeks after John Paul II's death, the Polish episcopate said: "One must not forget that the communist system was pitiless... it had everyone in its clutches."

Since the end of communism in Poland in 1989, holders of public office have had to come clean about their communist past. While collaborating with the communists does not automatically mean exclusion from public office, failing to admit involvement with the now defunct regime does.

Although the come-clean rule does not apply to clerics, last year the church in Poland -- where more than 90 percent of the 38.5-million-strong population profess to be Roman Catholic -- publicly apologised for priests and other clerics who collaborated with the SB.

Several prominent priests have admitted that they had secret police links, but most deny having ever collaborated.


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