Thursday, June 28, 2007

Polish Church Reports Secret Police Ties

A special commission of Poland's Roman Catholic Church said Wednesday that documents in secret police files showed "about a dozen" living bishops had ties to the communist-era secret services.

But a top bishop warned that the former secret police documents may not be an accurate guide.

Poland's Roman Catholic bishops asked the special church commission to review their communist-era files in January, after a scandal in which the new archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, resigned just before his installation over disclosures he had cooperated with the communist secret police.

Other prominent clergy have also resigned over similar allegations. The church, revered in Poland for its resistance to the communists, has been rocked by the revelations, forcing the church to finally address the issue of what is regarded as a minority of compromised clergy.

After six months of work, the commission said that among Poland's 132 bishops "about a dozen were registered by the security services of communist Poland as 'secret collaborators' or 'operational contacts,'" while one was registered as an "agent" of the intelligence service.

Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz, reading from a statement, told reporters the documents in the former secret police archives "are incomplete and chaotic" and "do not allow to reliably determine the scope, intensity or harm of any eventual real and conscious cooperation" of the bishops with the security services.

Glodz added that the commission's initial report would be forwarded to the Vatican for further evaluation.

The Polish church, and Polish-born Pope John Paul II, the former archbishop of Krakow, is credited by many with helping hasten the old regime's demise in 1989.

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