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THE WORLD

Polish archbishop admits spying for communists

January 06, 2007|From Reuters

WARSAW — The new archbishop of Warsaw admitted Friday that he had worked with communist-era secret police and appeared to open the door for the pope to remove him from his post.

In a statement issued Friday, Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on Dec. 6, appeared to back down from earlier denials about his activities.

Critics have called on him to resign.

"By the fact of this entanglement I have damaged the church.... I will respect any decision the pope makes," Wielgus said.

"I damaged the church again when in recent days, amid a hot media campaign, I denied the facts of this cooperation."

Poland's Roman Catholic Church acknowledged Friday that Wielgus had spied for the secret services, increasing the pressure on him before his induction ceremony, scheduled for Sunday.

He officially started his job Friday.

Wielgus was named to succeed the retiring Cardinal Jozef Glemp, a crusader in the long struggle against communism in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland.

Soon after his appointment, Polish media reported that Wielgus had informed on fellow clerics for about 20 years starting in the late 1960s.

Wielgus maintained in his statement that he "did not report on anyone nor deliberately try to hurt anyone."

But a special church commission said in a statement that there was sufficient evidence to confirm that Wielgus was a willing informant.

"There are plenty of important documents which confirm Wielgus' willingness to ... cooperate," the commission said.

The Vatican has said it examined the archbishop's past before he was nominated, and on Friday it refused further comment.

A poll released Friday said a majority of Poles thought Wielgus should not remain as archbishop.

An editorial in the daily Dziennik newspaper said it would be a "moral scandal" if Wielgus did not resign.

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