The Press Office of the Holy See has confirmed Pope Benedict XVI’s acceptance of the resignation of Monsignor Stanislaw Wielgus as the Archbishop of Warsaw (Poland). Wielgus, who submitted his resignation only hours after taking on his new position, has admitted to collaborating with the Communist regime during their control of Poland.
The resignation of the Archbishop of Warsaw – one of the most influential positions in the Polish Church - was presented this Sunday, the same day scheduled for Archbishop Wielgus’s inauguration in the Basilica Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Warsaw.
In his place, the Pope has named Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the former Archbishop of Warsaw, as the temporary archdiocesan Administrator.
On Saturday, an independent Polish commission announced the results of their investigation of Archbishop Wielgus. In their statements to the Polish edition of Vatican Radio they confirmed he had collaborated with the Polish communist regime in the past.
Wielgus has admitted to communicating with the regime but, he said, "I did not perform any espionage missions, I have never done damage to anyone through my words, nor with my acts."
Reading a written statement, the archbishop qualified the accusations against him and denied doing any harm to the Church. "I do not want to justify myself. I know that I did not have to maintain any relationship with the communist regime of Poland. I am very sorry to have traveled out of Poland - that is the reason for those contacts. But in that period I felt the duty to continue with several important scientific investigations, to acquire a formation for the good of the Church."
Reaction from the Vatican
Before Monsignor Wielgus’s statements, Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See and of Vatican Radio released a statement affirming that, “Archbishop Wielgus' conduct in the past years of the communist regime in Poland has seriously compromised his authority, even with the faithful. Therefore, despite his humble and touching request for forgiveness, his resignation from the see of Warsaw and its prompt acceptance on the part of the Holy Father seemed an appropriate way to address the disorientation that has been created in that country.”
Father Lombardi noted that this is a moment of great suffering for the Polish Church,“to which we all owe so much and which we love. A Church that has given us pastors of the stature of Cardinal Stefan Wyszybnski and, above all, of Pope John Paul II.”
Father Lombardi also requested that the universal Church be, "spiritually united to the Church in Poland and support her with prayer and encouragement, so she may soon recover her serenity.
Attacks of vendetta
Father Lombardi recalled nevertheless that many of the documenting materials being used to condemn Archbishop Wielgus and other churchmen were, "produced by officials of an oppressive and blackmailing regime.”
"So many years after the end of the communist regime, with the loss of the great and unassailable figure of Pope John Paul II, the current wave of attacks against the Catholic Church in Poland, rather than a sincere search for transparency and truth, has many hallmarks of being a strange alliance between the persecutors of the past and their adversaries, a vendetta by those who used to persecute the Church and were defeated by the faith and the thirst for freedom of the Polish people,” he pointed out.
Father Lombardi concluded his statement by recalling, "'The truth will make you free,' says Christ. The Church is not afraid of the truth and her members, to be faithful to their Lord, must be able to acknowledge their own faults.”
“We hope that the Church in Poland will be able to live and surmount this difficult period courageously and clearly, so that she will be able to continue to offer her precious and extraordinary contribution of faith and evangelical energy to the Church in Europe and the world," Lombardi said.