.- Following a special meeting of the Polish Bishops’ Conference to discuss “the state of the Church in Poland” the bishops released a statement and called for a special day of prayer and repentance on Ash Wednesday, this coming February 21st. The meeting and statement comes in response to recent concern over the collaboration of some Polish clergy with the Communist regime of the late 20th century.
In a communication, which was to be read at every Polish Parish on Sunday, the bishops said they have “painfully followed” the accusations brought against Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, who resigned as Archbishop of Warsaw after he admitted to collaboration with the Communist secret service (SB) and the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) intelligence.
The bishops emphasized that despite the archbishop’s admittance of guilt, “It is not up to us to judge a man, a brother, who has served the Church in a faithful and zealous way.”
The prelates noted the tremendous persecution that was felt by the Church and by so many Poles during the era of totalitarian Communist rule and called for a greater investigation of the facts surrounding individual cases. “Only a critical and solid analysis of all the available sources can allow us to approach the truth,” they noted. “One-sided reading of documents created by officers of the repression apparatus of a communist state, hostile towards the Church, can seriously harm people, destroy the links of social trust and as a consequence prove to be a posthumous victory of an inhuman system, in which we were fated to live”
“All too easily it is being forgotten that in the times of communist totalitarianism the whole Church in Poland constantly stood against the enslavement of the society and was an oasis of freedom and truth,” the bishop’s statement said.
“We repeat once more: the Church is not afraid of the truth, even if this is a hard, shameful, truth and approaching this truth is sometimes very painful.”
“We are not afraid to confess that the Church is a community of sinners,” the bishops said, “but at the same time she is holy and called to holiness, since Jesus Christ is her Head, living and working in her – a Saint above all saints. It is before Him that we stand, asking the Holy Ghost to deliver us from evil, fear and our small-mindedness.”
With such a background, the bishops called for this coming Ash Wednesday, “to be a day of prayer and repentance of the whole Polish clergy.” The prelates declared that, “in all the churches in our dioceses, services to the Merciful God should be celebrated for a forgiveness of mistakes and weaknesses in proclaiming the whole Gospel.”
“As clergy,” the bishops continued, we are ‘taken from the people,’ we are a part of Polish society, which as a whole needs to turn away from evil and make a full conversion.”
“There is a great task of reconciliation for the Church in Poland, apart from standing in truth before the face of God. We will not change the past, both the glorious, and the one that we are ashamed of,” the statement adds.
The bishops concluded their communiqué by laying out a plan for investigating other potential collaborators while appealing, “to all the people of the Church, the clergy and the laity, to carry on the examination of their consciences concerning their conduct in the time of totalitarianism.”