Cardinal claims Vatican priests spied on John Paul II

Poland's top Cardinal Jozef Glemp has told an Italian news agency that some priests working for the Vatican spied on John Paul II, saying that up to 15 per cent of Poland's priests worked as spies under the former communist regime.

Speaking on the sidelines of the St Egidio interfaith conference in Assisi, Italy, Cardinal Glemp told Italian agency ANSA that the late Pope was spied on in the Vatican by informers for secret services in Warsaw and Moscow.

"There were spies in the Vatican. Moscow had every interest in knowing what was happening in Rome with a Polish pope on the throne of St Peter," the Polish Primate said.

Cardinal Glemp named one Polish priest, Fr Konrad Hejmo, who for many years organised visits by pilgrims from his country to papal general audiences.

"He was certainly a spy. The documents and papers that were made public last year prove it. Personally I am convinced that Father Hejmo accused people and prepared reports," Cardinal Glemp said.

However, he also criticised a tendency to condemn the people from many walks of life who acted as spies. "People forget that they were living at a very, very difficult time," he added.

A Daily Telegraph report adds that documents released last year by the Polish National Remembrance Institute, which oversees research into communist-era files, provide evidence that Fr Hejmo had been an informer for the Polish security services.

However, Fr Hejmo has denied being a spy, saying he was "naive" because he had shared information with a Pole living in Germany who was later uncovered as a spy.

Recently, another well-known Polish priest, Fr Michal Czajkowski, admitted spying on dissidents and clerics for communist secret services in Poland for nearly 25 years.

'John Paul was spied on in Vatican' (ANSA, 5/9/06)
Pope John Paul II 'spied on in Vatican' (Daily Telegraph, 6/9/06)

Well-known priest asks forgiveness for communist spying (CathNews, 12/7/06)
Polish Dominicans deny priest was a spy (CathNews, 9/5/05)

6 Sep 2006