Monday, January 08, 2007

Wielgus out

Sometime ago, I blogged about Archbishop Wielgus, then Bishop of Plock, whom the Pope appointed to replace Cardinal Glemp as Archbishop of Warsaw. After confessing to be a collaborator of the Communist Secret Service, the Archbishop created a stir by resigning hours before his official enthronement.

The Archbishop, as you can see from the photos below of the Mass, was a picture of despondency.

Here's the news from Asianews:

Pope accepts resignation of Warsaw archbishop
Accused of collaborating with the past Communist regime, the archbishop admitted his “mistakes” but denied ever causing anyone harm.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Archbishop of Warsaw, Mgr Stanislaw Wielgus, has stepped down and the Pope has accepted his resignation. This brings to a close, at least for the moment, an incident that ignited division and confusion among the faithful in Warsaw and the rest of Poland. Mgr Wielgus was accused of collaboration with the former Communist regime. He admitted that he had had to cooperate with the secret police however he denied ever harming or causing harm to be done to anyone. A recently issued Vatican statement talked about mistakes and pardon.

But in these days, the imminence of the installation ceremony of the new archbishop saw the spread of rumours and the leaking of documents. On the eve of the ceremony, Mgr Wieglus, asking pardon for errors made, said: “I never informed on anyone and never tried to hurt anyone in deed or in words.” And he added: “The fact of my involvement has harmed the Church.”

However the statement by Mgr Wieglus did not stop the controversy and today, a note from the Apostolic Nunciature in Poland was issued in the Vatican. “His Excellency Mgr Stanislaw Wielgus, Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw, on the day in which his installation in the basilica cathedral was supposed to take place, to start his pastoral ministry in the Church of Warsaw, submitted his resignation to His Holiness Benedict XVI from canonical office in accordance with can. 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law. The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus and has appointed His Eminence Cardinal Józef Glemp, Primate of Poland, Diocesan Administrator of Warsaw until new provisions are made.”

This morning in Warsaw, believers gathered outside the cathedral to protest Mgr Wieglus’ announcement that he had renounced his appointment as new archbishop of Warsaw, yelling “Stay with us”.

The Vatican Press Release:

Pope Accepts Warsaw Prelate's Resignation

Archbishop Wielgus Had Collaborated With Communist Secret Police

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2007 ( Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Warsaw's Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, who acknowledged collaborating with Poland's Communist secret police.

In a note issued today by the Holy See, the apostolic nunciature in Poland communicated that Warsaw's new archbishop presented the Pope his "resignation of the canonical office." The archbishop was originally scheduled to begin his pastoral ministry in Warsaw today.
"The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus and has appointed His Eminence, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, primate of Poland, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Warsaw until further indication," added the note issued by Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, apostolic nuncio in Poland.
Archbishop Wielgus, 67, acknowledged in a statement that in his youth he collaborated with the secret police, after a statement of Poland's Historical Commission was published on Friday, which confirmed the relationship of the then young priest with the Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The commission clarified that, in virtue of the analysis of documents of the National Memory Institute, "it cannot be affirmed that this collaboration had consequences for persons or institutions." At any rate, this type of collaboration was prohibited by the episcopate.

Time of suffering
In a statement issued today, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said: "Archbishop Wielgus' conduct in the past years of the Communist regime in Poland has seriously compromised his authority, including before the faithful.

"Therefore, despite his humble and moving request for forgiveness, the resignation to the See of Warsaw and its speedy acceptance on the part of the Holy Father has seemed to be an appropriate solution to address the situation of disorientation that has been created in that nation."

The Vatican spokesman added: "It is a time of great suffering for a Church to which we all owe very much and which we love, which has given us pastors of the greatness of Cardinal Stefan Wyszybnski and, above all, Pope John Paul II.

"The universal Church must feel spiritually sympathetic to the Church in Poland and support her with prayer and encouragement, so that she will soon regain her serenity."

"A strange alliance"
Father Lombardi continued: "At the same time, it is appropriate to observe that the case of Archbishop Wielgus is not the first and will probably not be the last case of attack on personalities of the Church in virtue of the documentation of the services of the past regime.

"There is enormous material and, in attempting to assess its value and draw reliable conclusions, it must not be forgotten that it was produced by officials of an oppressive and blackmailing regime."

The press office director added: "After so many years of the Communist regime, when the great and untouchable figure of Pope John Paul II is no longer here, the present wave of attacks against the Catholic Church in Poland does not seem to be a sincere search for transparency and truth, but rather a strange alliance between persecutors of the past and other adversaries, a vengeance on the part of those who, in the past, had persecuted her and were defeated by the faith and the thirst for freedom of the Polish people."
Father Lombardi explained that members of the Church must be faithful to the truth: "'The truth will make you free,' says Christ. The Church is not afraid of the truth and, to be faithful to her Lord, her members must be able to acknowledge their own faults.

"We hope that the Church in Poland will be able to live and surmount with courage and lucidity this difficult period, so that she will be able to continue offering her precious and extraordinary contribution of faith and evangelical drive to the European and universal Church."

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