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Polish Primate's Defense of Archbishop Wielgus

"Was Forced to Collaborate Under Threats and Verbal Attacks"

WARSAW, Poland, JAN. 14, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of excerpts of the address given in Polish by Cardinal Józef Glemp, primate of Poland, in which he condemned the treatment of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus in the media.

Archbishop Wielgus was to take possession of the Archdiocese of Warsaw on Sunday, but instead Benedict XVI accepted the prelate's resignation after he admitted to collaborating with the Communist Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Poland.

* * *

This Sunday is known as the Sunday of the Lord's Baptism. With it the Christmas Season ends and the liturgical cycle begins of Holy Masses and liturgies that speak of Jesus Christ's activities for the establishment of the Church during his earthly existence. But this Sunday is also known as the Sunday of the servant of God.

[...]

Archbishop Wielgus can be included among the people we perceive as servants of the Lord. Yes! Archbishop Wielgus is a servant of God. In his life he has had to face difficult situations, but these vicissitudes serve to form man, giving the possibility to understand better our dependence on God and, at the same time, to better see evil.

From Archbishop Wielgus' résumé we learn that he loves science very much, especially theology, the science of the Church. And in the field of theology the results he achieved were such that he called the attention of the Communist state's secret services. What were the secret services? They were an organization, an institution of the People's Republic of Poland, which watched over citizens' "correct character."

They were determined not to have too large a middle class, too many ideological deviations, too much religious devotion; in short, they tried to form people according to the imposed Marxist-Leninist model. It was a very large organization which permeated the whole of society, especially the clergy, which was perceived as the most independent and patriotic sector.

The Communist ideology, like a steamroller, drove over the consciences of Poles, flattening everything to the level of Socialism. In Poland the steamroller was not as harsh as in other Communist states, but it acted everywhere, and reached in particular the wisest and most intelligent people, whom it wished to subject.

Sadly, the methods of action and strategies of the secret service are no longer known except through stories. Archbishop Wielgus ended up in this maelstrom because he was a diligent priest. A diligent priest was not liked, so he was reproached.

Today, with too much haste it can be said that he was involved in these affairs, but we do not know what pressure was exerted on him, what methods were used to force him to sign a transaction, something which is legally invalid for being carried out under threats or intimidations. Today there is only talk of an event without giving thought to the circumstances. Moreover, we do not know in what way the secret service got rid of the servant who was useless to them. The documents say nothing about this.

At present a judgment has been expressed on the person of Archbishop Wielgus. But, what type of judgment is it if it is based on pieces of paper and documents copied three times? We do not want such judgments and courts! If there are accusations against a person, they must be articulated and the accused must be given the possibility to defend himself. However, first of all, there must be defenders, witnesses, documents submitted for verification of their authenticity.

In Archbishop Wielgus' case, this procedure has been lacking. The judgment on him has not been emitted by any court! Archbishop Wielgus was forced to collaborate under threats and verbal attacks. Why then do his persecutors not testify today? It can be estimated that there are tens of thousands of members of the former secret service, who now have good jobs. Why are none of them invited to testify today?

[...]

At present, in the face of cases such as this one, it is difficult to believe in the seriousness of the Institute of National Memory. The material collected and prepared by the Communist services cannot be an oracle; it cannot and must not be the only source of information on citizens. This would be too superficial and dishonest.

Brothers and sisters: To evaluate if someone is truly a servant of God, the Church does not base herself only on a crystalline past. The past also belongs to God, who can forgive and give the penitent absolution. This refers not only to priests but to all without distinction.

Speaking in general, we can say that God, in his strategy to call his servants, uses criteria that are different to ours and looks for other qualities in men. I wish to recall an event that illustrates this type of call.

Jesus chose Peter as head of his Church and of the college of apostles. But St. Peter was not a person without a stain, on the contrary: His life was characterized by weaknesses and uncertainties; he was, moreover, a poor adviser. So it is that St. Peter denied the Lord Jesus. But afterward he wept and the Lord asked him a question: "Peter, do you love me?" Jesus granted him the appointment of supreme shepherd of his "sheep" when he heard Peter's answer: "I love you. You know that I love you." In this lies the criterion!

Brothers and sisters: The Church is conceived as mystical body of Christ, though its earthly dimension exists. We are its living members through whom grace passes, and grace is the immensity of God's goodness. We are the priests who have come from the people and are made like the people.

But we are called to serve the people through Christ. Because of this, we adhere closely to Christ in difficult moments. It is easy to "feed the sheep" when they listen to you, but not so when they feel an aversion, though the principles are always the same, especially the principle of charity. The more we love Christ and the more we show his charity, the better priests and pastors we will be.

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