Pope Benedict offers prayers, support for accused Polish bishop

Pope Benedict offers prayers, support for accused Polish bishop

.- Made public today was a Letter from Benedict XVI to Stanislaw Wielgus, Archbishop Emeritus of Warsaw, Poland.  The Holy Father lauded the archbishop’s virtues, encouraged him in his suffering, and expressed his hope that Wielgus might somehow return to the service of the Church.

In the text, which is dated February 12th, the Holy Father thanks Archbishop Wielgus "for the trust with which you opened your soul before me, showing the anguished suffering of you heart throughout your life as a priest and bishop, until the moment of your resignation from the office of archbishop of Warsaw.”
"In recent times I have participated in your sufferings and wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness and fraternal understanding,” the Pope writes.
"As for the past, I am fully aware of the exceptional circumstances in which you had to undertake your service, when the communist regime in Poland used all possible means to suffocate the freedom of citizens, and particularly of the clergy.”

The archbishop resigned soon after being appointed as the new Archbishop of Warsaw.  At the time, Wielgus admitted to submitting to intense pressure from the Communist secret police and providing them with information. 

However, according to “The Universe,” lawyers for the archbishop are now claiming that records indicating that Wielgus collaborated with the former communist regime were falsified.

“There was neither secret not conscious collaboration,” said Marek Malecki, a lawyer acting for Archbishop Wielgus.

Waldemar Gontarski, another lawyer, told the Zycie Warszawy daily Feb. 13th that the national appeal the archbishop delivered Jan. 5th was not his own and that "not just his signature, but the whole file covering his alleged cooperation with the secret services has been falsified."

In his January 5th appeal to Catholics, Archbishop Wielgus said he had met with secret police agents on numerous occasions in the 1960s and 1970s and signed a collaboration pledge during a "moment of weakness."

Malecki told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI that passages had been added to Archbishop Wielgus' statement without his knowledge, including the words: "I harmed the church by the fact of my entanglement. I harmed it again when, in recent days, facing a heated media campaign, I denied the fact of my cooperation."

“In my view, the archbishop acted in the interests of the church,” Gontarski said.

Pope Benedict noted the ways in which Wielgus has served the Church.  "As rector of the University of Lublin and as bishop of Plock you gave proof of your great piety, and of your profound love for Jesus Christ and for the Church.”

"When, one month ago, you presented your resignation in the awareness that the situation that had arisen made it impossible for you to begin your episcopal service with the indispensable degree of authority, I clearly saw in this act a profound sensitivity for the good of the Church of Warsaw and of Poland, as well as your own humility and detachment from office.”

"I would like, first of all, to encourage you to maintain faith and serenity of heart. I express the desire that you may resume your activity at the service of Christ, in whatever way proves possible, so that your vast and profound knowledge and priestly piety may be used for the good of the beloved Church in Poland.”

"The episcopal mission, today as in the past, is marked by suffering. May Our Lord never cease to support you with His grace. Help will also come from the friendship of brother bishops and of the people who have known and respected you."

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