Page 5, 9th March 2007

9th March 2007
Page 5
Page 5, 9th March 2007 — Polish bishops denounce 'spy-priest' book

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Locations: Katowice, Warsaw


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Polish bishops denounce 'spy-priest' book


POLISH CHURCH leaders have criticised a priest's book that examines links between Communist secret police and clergy in Poland.

"It shows a worrying lack of concern for humanist principles," Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin told Poland's Catholic information agency KAI.

"I fear God will deal severely with those who've created such a sensation, treating secret police notes as a fount of truth which needn't even be contrasted with other sources."

Archbishop Damian Zimon of Katowice said in a statement that the book "tendentiously selected" secret police material "with the aim not of seeking truth but of impugning the good name" of Bishop Wiktor Skworc of Tarnow, who was accused of collaborating with Communists in the book.

Archbishop Zimon said he had instructed Bishop Skworc to meet with the secret police to "defuse social tensions" in southern Poland.

He added that the book's author, Fr Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, had "no formal or moral right" to investigate priests outside the priest's Archdiocese of Krakow.

The book, entitled Priests in the Face of the Security Service, was released last week by the Catholic Znak publishing house and is based on Fr Isakowicz-Zaleski's 18 months of archive analysis. The book names several dozen priests as suspected former secret police collaborators, and says several bishops were registered as collaborators, including Archbishop Wojciech Ziemba of Warmia.

Fr Isakowicz-Zaleski said at the book's launch in Krakow that he believed the Polish Church had "emerged victorious in its struggle with Communism", but still had to confront the "Trojan horse" of the secret police archives. He said Church leaders had been reluctant to study material about the past because they feared further revelations. He added that the Church's image would be "damaged by hiding the truth, not by revealing it".

Fr Isakowicz-Zaleski, who was harassed by regime agents, was permitted access in 2005 as an "injured party" to the archives housed at Poland's official National Remembrance Institute.

However, in June 2006 Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow warned him to stop "throwing accusations" and in October 2006 the cardinal barred him from more research and public statements.

Fr Isakowicz-Zaleski said he had been "condemned to civil death" by Cardinal Dziwisz's October decree and said that he was prepared for legal action.

Cardinal Dziwisz said last week that he had asked an archdiocesan commission to investigate whether the book conformed with Church guidelines. Most of Poland's 44 dioceses have set up commissions to investigate the Communist-era role of the clergy since the January resignation of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus of Warsaw, although some Catholics have criticised Church control over the new bodies, which are staffed by clergy.

The book describes how the secret police attempted over the course of 12 years to recruit Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz, whom the Pope named archbishop of Warsaw on March 3, as an informer but gave up in the face of his refusals.

In 2004. John Paul named Bishop Nycz the bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg diocese on the Baltic Sea coast.

"This is a very good nomination; Warsaw needs a bishop like him," Marcin Przeciszewski , the head of Poland's Catholic Information Agency, told the PAP news agency. "He can build bridges above divisions, and will be able to lead a true and friendly dialogue with the modem world."

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