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Polish priest 'spied on Pope' for communist authorities

A high-ranking Polish priest spied for communist authorities on church officials including Pope John Paul II, who was the bishop of Krakow at the time, a government institute said Friday.

The statement by the Institute of National Remembrance, which oversees the Polish secret service's files, was the first time an official confirmation of long-held suspicions that the pope - then Karol Wojtyla - was spied on before he was elected to the papacy in 1978.

Krakow Cardinal Franciszek Macharski declined to comment on the charge, which appeared on the institute's Web site.

The identity of the priest, who died during the 1960s, was not disclosed. But Marek Lasota, an official at the institute's Krakow branch whose comments were carried on the Web site, said the informant held senior administrative posts in the Polish church's governing body, the Episcopate, and the Krakow church where John Paul served.

From 1948-64 the priest, who used the pseudonym Zagielowski and Torano, delivered reports on the activities of his colleagues in Krakow, including Wojtyla.

The priest also detailed the reluctance of some church officials to see Wojtyla nominated as a bishop in 1958. Known for his good education and modern views, the future pontiff - then 37 - was considered too young by some members of the Polish hierarchy.

Institute of National Remembrance


26 Aug 2002