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Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz Verify Collaborationists

Interview With Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz

ROME, AUG. 31, 2006 (Zenit) - Poland's episcopal conference published a document to help discern the culpability of priests who collaborated with the Communists between the years 1944-1989.

Entitled "Memorandum on the Collaboration of Some Priests with the Security Organs of Poland during the Years 1944-1989," the document was released Friday.

In this interview with us, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, speaks with Wlodzimierz Redzioch about the current situation of collaborationist clergy in Poland.

Q: Last Friday, the Polish episcopate published the memorandum on the issue of collaboration by some members of the clergy with security organs in Poland during the years of the Communist regime. What does the document say?

Cardinal Dziwisz: It is a document prepared by the Memory and Concern Commission which I convoked, in concomitance with the verification of collaboration -- lustration -- of the clergy in Krakow and other cities of Poland.

After the opening of the archives of the Communist security services, it was verified that some priests and men and women religious had collaborated with them. In some cases, however, it was a question of false accusations, based on documentation falsified by the services themselves.

An instruction has been prepared of a theological-pastoral character, which explains the moral rating of the different forms of collaboration and how the Church must conduct herself in regard to members of the clergy who are guilty.

Q: What were their conclusions?

Cardinal Dziwisz: The document is quite long so that it is difficult to summarize it in two words. Above all it is clearly stated that all deliberate and free collaboration with Communist security organs is a sin. Moreover, it is a public sin.

Consequently, one who wishes to remove the guilt must confess it before his conscience, before God and before the men who have been harmed.

Then he must ask for forgiveness and repair the harm done. The memorandum reminds, however, that all this must lead to conversion and not to condemnation, to forgiveness and not to hatred and vengeance.

Q: When it is a question of the clergy, what does this mean in practice?

Cardinal Dziwisz: A priest should voluntarily confess having collaborated with the Communists to his bishop or, if he is a religious, to his superior, explaining the reasons, the type of contacts and the eventual harm he caused other people.

Together they will decide how to expiate and repair the public scandal.

In some cases, it will probably be necessary that those who hold an office in the Church -- especially an important office -- should present their resignation. In any case, all those who present themselves spontaneously can count on mercy and forgiveness. In fact, I do not think that collaborationist priests were numerous.


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Dziwisz, Poland, Communists, Priests

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