Renewed communist spying allegations against new Warsaw archbishop

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday January 3, 2007

Warsaw- Renewed allegations of spying for the communist-era secret services were made against the new archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, by the Wprost news magazine on Wednesday. Wprost reported in its online edition that the top cleric's statement of commitment dating back to 1973 was contained in his secret service file.

Wielgus is reported to have worked for the official security services under the pseudonym "Grey" and to have pledged to collect information on Polish priests working abroad.

In return the secret service is said in the report to have promoted the career of the cleric, who received a passport in 1973 along with a bursary to study at the University of Munich.

Hours before the report was published, a commission convened by the Polish bishops had begun a probe into Wielgus' secret file.

Wielgus is to be inducted into one of the highest offices of the Polish catholic church as successor to Cardinal Jozef Glemp on Sunday.

Two weeks ago the Gazeta Polska newspaper published allegations of spying against him, claiming that he had for 20 years from the 1960s onwards been an informant for the communist secret services.

Wielgus rejected the allegations, but delayed calling for an investigation of his file until late Tuesday.

The Vatican expressed its confidence in the bishop following the initial publication of the allegations of spying.

On Tuesday the church commission began its work in the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which is responsible for dealing with the country's communist past.

The Polish news agency PAP reported Wednesday that Gazeta Polska intended soon to back up its allegations against Wielgus by publishing documents from the bishop's secret file on its website.

For months there has been a heated controversy within the Polish church on how to deal with priests who worked for the communist secret services.

Clerics who have discovered from their own files that they were spied on by their fellow-priests are demanding transparency.

By contrast, Glemp, who was head of the catholic church in Poland as well as being archbishop of Warsaw, had delayed initiating an investigation of the links between clerics and the secret services.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency