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Warsaw Catholic Archbishop Resigns Amid Scandal January 7, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Catholic, World News.

WARSAW (AP)–Warsaw’s new archbishop resigned Sunday over his involvement with the communist-era secret police, which has shaken the deeply Roman Catholic homeland of the late Pope John Paul II.

Stanislaw Wielgus announced his decision at the capital’s St. John’s Cathedral, packed with worshippers gathered for a Mass that was to have marked his formal installation. The congregation included President Lech Kaczynski.

A forlorn-looking Wielgus read from a letter to Pope Benedict XVI in which he offered his resignation “after reflecting deeply and assessing my personal situation.”

Though Kaczynski and some others applauded, many in the church and a large crowd packed outside in the rain shouted, “We welcome you,” “Stay with us,” and “No, No!”

Dressed in a resplendent golden miter and robes, Wielgus, 67, made his brief announcement less than an hour after Poland’s church said in a statement that he had resigned.

Revelations that Wielgus had contacts with the hated secret police of the communist regime, which ended in 1989, had shaken a country where many view the church as a moral authority that bravely opposed the regime.

The case, which had simmered since mid-December, expanded into a full-blown crisis on Friday when a church historical commission said it had found evidence that Wielgus had cooperated with the secret police.

Wielgus initially denied that, but then issued two statements acknowledging that he did sign an agreement in 1978 promising to cooperate with the security force in exchange for permission to leave Poland to study in West Germany.

However, he stressed that he did not inform on anyone or try to hurt anyone, and he expressed remorse for both his contacts with the secret police and his failure to be forthcoming from the beginning.

The church said the pope has asked the outgoing archbishop, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, to administer the archdiocese until a replacement is found.

In place of the installation, Glemp devoted Sunday’s Mass to a homily defending Wielgus. He called him “God’s servant” and warned of the dangers of passing judgment based on incomplete and flawed documents left behind by the communist authorities.

“Today a judgment was passed on Bishop Wielgus,” said Glemp, who is also Poland’s primate.

“But what kind of judgment was it, based on some documents and shreds of paper photocopied three times over? We do not want such judgments,” Glemp said to loud applause.

He said that Wielgus was intimidated and threatened into agreeing to cooperate with the communist police.

Throughout the homily, Wielgus looked down, his mouth twitching and eyes batting shut repeatedly in apparent emotion.

Wielgus, previously bishop of Plock, was named by the Vatican on Dec. 6 to replace Glemp, who stepped down after more than 25 years as archbishop of Warsaw.

The Vatican released a translated version of the statement from the Polish church, and Vatican deputy spokesman Rev. Ciro Benedettini said it would have no comment beyond that.

One woman outside the church, Jadwiga Lachowska, 64, said she still had full trust in Wielgus and saw no reason for him to step down.

“Why should he? He didn’t harm anyone. He didn’t inform on anyone -he only hurt himself,” she said.


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