Russian Catholics warn against rush to judgment as Polish bishops meet

A representative of the Russian bishops conference has warned against "hasty conclusions and accusations" as Polish bishops meet to discuss the fall out from the resignation of Warsaw Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus over spying allegations.

"Despite reasons of some priests to collaborate with special services, their dignity cannot be humiliated, in particular hasty conclusions and accusations should not be made," Fr Igor Kovalevsky, General Secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Russia, told Interfax.

On the other hand, the collaboration of priests with special services of any country "has often been disastrous to the Church and worshippers," he said.

"One should look into every case and then make conclusions on the reasoning, was it of patriotic or any other nature," the priest said.

One should also bear in mind that the Church "was oppressed and sometimes persecuted" in some Eastern European countries in the Soviet times, he said.

The Catholic Church managed to maintain the independence in Poland to a great extent; however, the state frequently exerted heavy pressure on priests as well, he said.

"The Church should not become like a crowd shouting 'crucify him' in its means," Fr Kovalevsky said.

Meanwhile, the Polish daily Dziennik revealed that in the late 1970s communist secret services controlled as many as 12 Polish bishops, Radio Polonia reports.

The daily revealed a secret plan of the secret services called "the Primate" designed to influence the election of new primate of Poland after the demise of Cardinal Wyszynski.

The plan was described in a secret document dated January 1978 and it seems to be directed against Cardinal Karol Wojtyla whom the services perceived as the most dangerous candidate.

The plan never became reality as in October 1978 Cardinal Wojtyla became the Pope as John Paul II while Cardinal Wyszynski survived until 1981.

Photo: Lech Walesa, leader of Solidarity, received by Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in January 1981

Russian Catholics respect Polish bishop's decision to resign (Interfax, 9/1/07)
New revelations about history of Polish church (Radio Polonia, 9/1/07)
Special meeting of Polish bishops after the Wielgus affair (AsiaNews, 9/1/07)
Stanislas Wielgus (Wikipedia)
Stanislas Wielgus (Wikipedia)
Profile: Stanislaw Wielgus (BBC News)
Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus (Catholic-Hierarchy)
Archdiocese of Warsaw (Polish)

Wielgus misled Pope by failure to disclose communist-era links: reports (CathNews, 8/1/07)
New Warsaw Archbishop resigns over collaboration allegations (CathNews, 8/1/07)
Polish Cardinal says sorry over "super spy" slur (CathNews, 15/11/06)
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)

10 Jan 2007