Well-known priest asks forgiveness for communist spying

Fr Michal Czajkowski, a Polish priest known for his work on Catholic-Jewish relations and an associate of the late John Paul II has admitted that he spied and informed on dissidents and clerics for 24 years under communism.

"I want to apologise and ask for forgiveness, especially for those whom I have hurt. There is no doubt about my guilt," Fr Czajkowski wrote in a statement. "I have already expressed my regret toward God. Now I am doing it toward people."

Reuters reports that allegations against Fr Czajkowski, including that he had informed on Solidarity priest Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, were first published by a newspaper in May. But the priest had rejected them until now.

Fr Czajkowski, an associate of John Paul II, was a willing agent who reported about pro-democratic activities of his fellow clerics, according to the National Remembrance Institute, which oversees communist-era files.

Fr Czajkowski's past is an embarrassment for a Polish church still coming to terms with the full role it played under communism.

The Church supported the pro-democracy Solidarity movement, but up to 10 percent of its members may have at the same time cooperated with communist authorities, historians say.

The Church has refused to make public names of clerics who cooperated with communist services.

John Paul's first visit as Pope to then-communist Poland in 1979 drew millions onto the streets and inspired Poles to challenge their communist rulers.

He was widely seen as a major influence behind the rise a year later of Solidarity, which won power in 1989 and helped bring about the fall of communism in the entire Soviet bloc.

Leading Polish priest admits spying for communists (Reuters, 11/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Encounters "On the Way Toward the One Who Is Coming", 9th Day of Judaism in the Church in Poland (Jewish-Christian Relations)

Polish Dominicans deny priest was a spy (CathNews, 9/5/05)

Polish Catholics Call on Priests Who Spied for Communists to Come Clean and Resign (Lifesite, 29/5/06)

12 Jul 2006