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Stanisław Wojciech Wielgus (born 23 April 1939) is a Polish prelate of the Catholic Church, who resigned his position as Archbishop of Warsaw on 6 January 2007, just one day after being installed in that post in a private ceremony, just before the start of his public installation, because of revelations that he cooperated with the Polish communist secret police decades earlier. He was Bishop of Płock from 1999 to 2007.
|Titular Archbishop of Viminacium|
|Appointed||7 January 2007|
|Ordination||10 June 1962|
by Piotr Kałwa
|Consecration||1 August 1999|
by Józef Glemp
Stanisław Wojciech Wielgus
23 April 1939
|Motto||Aeternae Sapientiae et Caritati (Eternal Wisdom and Love)|
|Reference style||The Most Reverend|
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
Stanisław Wielgus was born in Wierzchowiska, in what is today Lublin Region, on 23 April 1939. He was ordained a priest on 10 June 1962 by Bishop Piotr Kałwa. From 1962 to 1969 he worked as a parish priest while continuing his specialized studies. An expert in Polish philosophy and medieval philosophy, he spent thirty years teaching in the faculty of philosophy of the Catholic University of Lublin Beginning in 1989 he served three terms as rector there. He taught at the University of Munich, from 1973 to 1975 and again in 1978, where Professor Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, was teaching as an associate. From 1990 to 1993 he was the vice-chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Polish Universities. He served as a member and consultant on the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, and a member of the Humanities section of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.
As he concluded his service in Płock, he was made an honorary citizen of the city in recognition of "his work to develop knowledge, culture, and Christian beliefs".
Archbishop of WarsawEdit
Wielgus was due to be installed publicly on 7 January at a solemn Mass in St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw. However, less than an hour before the ceremony, his resignation was announced by the Apostolic Nunciature to Poland. Pope Benedict XVI had accepted Wielgus's resignation the previous day, 6 January. Some reports indicate that his resignation followed consultations within the Vatican and with the Polish government involving Pope Benedict and Polish president Lech Kaczyński. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, explained to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that Pope Benedict himself decided to dismiss Wielgus, saying that "...when Monsignor Wielgus was nominated, we did not know anything about his collaboration with the secret services," The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said that "The behaviour of (Archbishop) Wielgus during the years of the communist regime in Poland seriously compromised his authority, even with the faithful." The Vatican announcement of his resignation provided no explanation.
Wielgus was then appointed titular archbishop of Viminacium, the practice followed in the case of a bishop who has resigned or been forced to resign from his see under special circumstances to avoid the honorary use of a title associated with his former see like archbishop emeritus of Warsaw.
A day after the Wielgus resignation, Father Janusz Bielanski resigned as rector of Wawel Cathedral in Krakow. According to a local church spokesman, Bielanski's resignation was "in connection with repeated allegations about his cooperation with the secret services" of the Communist era.
In February 2007 it emerged that Wielgus was preparing a court case to clear his name and would be represented by Marek Małecki, who recently succeeded in clearing the name of Małgorzata Niezabitowska, a former government press aide. Wielgus' guilt has already pronounced as beyond doubt by two independent historical committees.
On 12 February 2007, Pope Benedict wrote a letter to Wielgus that said: "I hope you will be working again for the Church in Poland".
In March 2007, the newspaper Rzeczpospolita reported that Wielgus while Bishop of Plock failed to respond to reports that several of his priests were sexually abusing minors. Roman Marcinkowski, Auxiliary Bishop of Płock countered that official complaints had been lodged and said the charges were "fragmentary and based on gossip".
Cooperation with the secret policeEdit
On 20 December 2006, journalists found documents from the dictatorship's archives according to which Archbishop Wielgus collaborated—or at least conversed—with the secret police during communist rule in Poland. This development was considered to be particularly significant in the context of post-communist Polish politics, because public figures, particularly politicians, can be officially censured and barred from holding public office if found to have collaborated with the Security Services (Polish: Służba Bezpieczeństwa) of the People's Republic of Poland (Polish: PRL, Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa).[failed verification] The process of review of the Security Service's files, known in Poland as lustration (Pol: Lustracja) has been the source of many political scandals in recent years. The Polish human rights ombudsman, Janusz Kochanowski, said on 4 January 2007 that there was evidence in the secret police archives that Archbishop Wielgus knowingly cooperated with the dictatorship.
Archbishop Wielgus acknowledged that he signed a cooperation statement in 1978, but insisted that he did so only under coercion and disputed the length and characterization of his contact as described in the published reports. He made a public statement on 4 January 2007 indicating that he only provided information concerning his own academic work, and that the reports seriously distorted the truth. However, according to the Polish national newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Wielgus had a more extensive role than he admitted, and alleged that he provided information about student activities as far back as 1967, when he was a philosophy student at the Catholic University of Lublin. Archbishop Wielgus only acknowledged a relationship beginning in 1978. Wielgus asked the Polish Bishops' Conference to examine the files pertaining to him.
The day after the discovery of the incriminating documents on 20 December 2006, the Vatican Press Office announced that "The Holy See, in deciding the nomination of the new archbishop of Warsaw, took into consideration all the circumstances of his life, including those regarding his past" and said that Pope Benedict "has full trust in his excellency Msgr. Stanislaw Wielgus and, with full awareness, entrusted to him the mission of pastor of the Archdiocese of Warsaw".
The revelations concerning Wielgus were particularly shocking because one of his predecessors as archbishop of Warsaw was the notable opponents of Communist rule as Stefan Wyszyński and the foremost priest of that era was Jerzy Popiełuszko, who was murdered by the Communist secret police.[original research?][failed verification]
- "Rinunce e nomine" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 6 December 2006. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
- Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. XCIX. 1999. p. 722. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
- "Arcybiskup Wielgus ma kłopoty. Będzie zawiadomienie do prokuratury" [Archbishop Wielgus is in trouble. There will be a notification to the prosecutor's office]. Niezaležna (in Polish). 23 May 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
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- "Comunicato della Nunziatura Apostolica in Polonia" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 7 January 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
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- "COMUNICATO DELLA NUNZIATURA APOSTOLICA IN POLONIA, 07.01.2007" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 7 January 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
- Gera, Vanessa (9 January 2007). "Head Priest of Krakow Cathedral Resigns: Rector also had ties to secret police". Associated Press.[dead link]
- "News from Poland - The News.p." Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2007.
- "Przeczytaj list Benedykta XVI do abp. Wielgusa" [Read Benedict XVI's letter to Archbishop. Wielgus]. Dziennik (in Polish). 12 February 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
- Luxmoore, Jonathan (8 March 2007). "Polish archbishop, officials ignored child sex abuse, says newspaper". Catholic Online. Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007.
- Najfeld, Joanna (20 December 2006). "Gazeta Polska: Archbishop Wielgus a former communist spy". Polish Radio. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
- Archbishop admits meeting with secret police, says ‘I never inflicted any harm.’ Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Catholic News Service, 6 January 2007
- New Catholic prelate wasn't a spy, Vatican and Polish bishops say Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Catholic News Service, 21 December 2006
- "Polish bishop denies concealing communist-era cooperation from Pope Benedict XVI". Associated Press. 28 January 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.