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Monday, December 5, 2016
New Polish archbishop resigns
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¬†The newly-appointed Archbishop of Warsaw, Rt Rev Stanislaw Wielgus, resigned yesterday, in a tearful announcement at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, minutes before he was due to be installed. Instead of the inauguration ceremony, a thanksgiving Mass for the work of the previous Archbishop of Warsaw, Jůzef Glemp, took place. Hundreds of supporters and opponents of Warsaw's new archbishop had gathered in front of the cathedral with slogans and banners. Poland has been deeply divided over the appointment of Archbishop Wielgus. Since it was announced last month, a media campaign accused Wielgus of collaborating with the secret service for years under the Communist regime. The Archbishop vigorously denied these reports and was supported by the Vatican. On 21 December a statement had been issued saying that the Pope had "utmost trust" in the nominee. But on Friday, 5 January, a report released by Poland's Ecclesiastical Historical Commission, headed by Wojciech Laczkowski, confirmed that the prelate had collaborated with the Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Following this news, Bishop Wielgus admitted for the first time that the allegations were true. Speaking on Vatican Radio's Polish programme, the Archbishop explained: "Driven by the desire to undertake important studies for my scientific specialization, I allowed myself to be involved by those contacts without the necessary prudence, and without the courage and determination to break them. I confess this error. "I do not know if the documents that the Historical Commission has presented to me are the only ones or if others will appear, but today I confirm with full conviction that I did not denounce anyone and that I tried not to harm anyone." Archbishop Wielgus added: "I again acted wrongly when, in recent days, given the feverish media campaign, I denied the facts of this collaboration. "This has endangered the credibility of the affirmations of persons of the Church, among whom are those bishops who have sympathized with me. "I know that for many of you this withdrawal from the truth is as painful a fact as my involvement of so many years ago." Archbishop Wielgus ended that statement asking "with a repentant heart to be received in the archdiocese as a brother who wants to unite and not divide, to pray and unite the people of the Church, in the Church of saints and sinners, which we all are." Following the results of the enquiry and the Archbishop's admissions, the Vatican changed its view overnight. In a brief statement issued yesterday by the Vatican representative in Warsaw, the Pope asked the outgoing Archbishop of Warsaw, Cardinal Jůzef Glemp, to continue in his post "until further decisions have been taken concerning the archdiocese." During the Communist era, the Catholic Church forbad its members from collaborating with the secret services. Many Catholic priests, religious and lay people suffered imprisonment, torture and even death for their faith. Among them, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski was imprisoned and later placed under house arrest for several years. Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, who organised humanitarian aid and preached against the communist system during the government's clampdown on Solidarity, was murdered in 1984 by government agents.
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