Polish Cardinal says sorry over "super spy" slur

Poland's Cardinal Jozef Glemp has written to a priest to apologise for branding him a "super-agent" for his role in exposing clergy members who had cooperated with the former Communist regime.

"I value the fact that this prince of the Polish Church can write to a priest from the ranks and say sorry," Fr Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski said according to the UK Catholic paper, The Universe.

"It shows everyone in the Church that we can differ on particular issues, but that it's also human to make mistakes."

Fr Isakowicz-Zaleski was speaking after receiving a letter from Cardinal Jozef Glemp, regretting an October statement in which he branded him a "super-agent" for his research into the Church's past infiltration by Communist informers.

He told Poland's Rzeczpospolita daily it was the first time the Cardinal had publicly apologised to a clergy member, adding that the gesture was "extremely important" for him.

"The Cardinal has shown we should be ruled by mutual goodness, not emotions," Fr Isakowicz-Zaleski added.

"I don't feel any offence - I regard the matter as closed."

The priest, who was harassed and beaten by Poland's Communist secret police for supporting the Solidarity movement at Krakow's Nowa Huta steelworks, has been researching former clergy agents and informers for a book.

However, in October he was banned from speaking to the media by the southern city's archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who demanded the right to vet the book before publication.

Meanwhile, other Church leaders also criticised his work, including Cardinal Glemp, who said Fr Isakowicz-Zaleski had "behaved like a super-agent" by "pursuing and hounding priests all over Poland".

However, preaching last week after writing to the priest, Cardinal Glemp said he regretted the remark.

"I myself used a severe expression towards one of our priests, but I later apologised to him," the cardinal added.

Head of Polish Church "Sorry" for Spy Slur (The Universe, 14/11/06)

Polish spies in John Paul II assassination attempt (CathNews, 13/10/06)
Cardinal claims Vatican priests spied on John Paul II (CathNews, 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)

15 Nov 2006