Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus has been appointed the new head of the Warsaw Catholic Archdiocese in Poland, in spite of findings by a church commission that he collaborated with the former communist country‚Äôs secret police.
"From the material presented, it seems various bad intentions and attitudes about the church are being attributed to me," Archbishop Wielgus declared in a statement yesterday (5 January 2007).
He continued: "This is a falsification. There is absolutely no documentation to prove it, beyond the words of functionaries who viewed my person and the whole issue in their own way. I never betrayed Christ and his church in deeds, words or intentions. I never inflicted any harm on anyone."
The statement was released only a few hours before Wielgus formally assumed office in the archbishop's residence of the Polish capital, Warsaw. Cardinal Jozef Glemp, retired archbishop of Warsaw, who received global publicity during the struggle against communism, welcomed his successor. An installation Mass is planned for 7 January 2007.
Media claims that Archbishop Wielgus had collaborated knowingly with Poland's communist-era secret police, or SB, were confirmed this week by a specially appointed church investigative commission.
The archbishop acknowledged that he had indeed met with the secret police on numerous occasions in the 1960s and 1970s while he was training for the priesthood and working as a pastor in the eastern city of Lublin.
He said that he had been "induced by screams and threats" to sign a declaration of collaboration during a "moment of weakness" before traveling to Germany in 1978.
However, the archbishop rejected allegations that he had obtained an apartment and study grant for revealing information on fellow clergy and Poles living abroad.
"The insinuations contained in this material that I allegedly planned a lengthy stay abroad for spying purposes are nonsense. Nothing like this ever entered my head," declared Wielgus.