Vetting of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
Reading the papers about the new Warsaw's Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus many people are shocked and the news makes them giddy. Some journalists state that undoubtedly Archbishop Wielgus was a collaborator of the communist intelligence services, and that he collaborated for many years. He has been most often attacked by relatively young people who have set their caps at Warsaw's prelate and want to destroy him, to humiliate him, and they robbed him of his good name long ago. An example can be a young Catholic who was permitted to see the files of the Institute of National Remembrance as a scientist and then used the knowledge of the files as a journalist. Is it fair?
There are also far more cautious views, very reasonable ones. These people think that the present vetting is still a 'wild vetting'. First of all, they notice that a man, who has been very respected and has had great authority so far, is being destroyed. The Diocese of Plock was happy to have had such a pastor.
On his way to Warsaw the new Metropolitan of Warsaw has faced serious difficulties, which the media have posed. I would like to turn your attention to the fact that a defenceless man is attacked, he has limited access to the files and that's why he cannot defend himself. We are learning that apart from the materials published on the web page of 'Gazeta Polska' there might be other documents in question. We should notice that the published materials were preserved as microfilms. So we cannot discuss the problem legitimately.
Furthermore, I ask a question, 'Is Archbishop Wielgus, as a man, treated with due respect, as a man and as a citizen? When the news about his alleged collaboration with the SB appeared on the news scrolling ticker we also read about a criminal who had murdered the 7 year old Grazynka and the news was that some Sz. was arrested (only his name and initial of the surname was given). The man who committed that terrible deed has the right to protect his name. Whereas one can destroy the good name of the bishop without infringing the law.
Where are we? What are the criteria journalists follow, especially those journalists who regard themselves as Catholics? It is sad that they cannot write with moderation. They strike a pose of sweeping filth from the Church in Poland - as some undisputed judges of the people of the Polish Church.
In the TV programme 'Kropka nad i' Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz said, 'I appeal for deliberation and moderation concerning the accusation. The Pope knew the past of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus. Presumption of innocence, honest trial and finally valid sentence; a law-governed state acts in this way. A microfilm is not evidence and the archbishop need not speak every second day'.
We should ask a question, from the point of methodology, about the worth of copied documents, namely microfilms. Can they be evidence in court? And the issue is subject to court proceedings - even every man has the right to defence in court. The example of Zyta Gilowska, who had been accused of collaboration with the SB and then was cleared of the charge, should be a serious warning.
I would like to take a stand on the news of 'Gazeta Polska' on its web pages, i.e. the contents of the Archbishop Wielgus's file. It is a collection of notes of the operational officers who allegedly talked to Fr Wielgus. Please notice that the only document from this collection, which was handwritten and signed by the priest, is his research plans connected with the Humboldt scholarship he received. (We publish this text so that one can see that there are no denunciations in it). But the TV journalist presented the document as a proof of his collaboration.
The second document, which the journalists claim Fr Wielgus signed using the code name Grey, can turn out, after a careful analysis, to be a document signed by some SB officer. There are two more pages of this document signed with this code name. There are also pages signed using the code name Adam Wysocki. The presented documentation, which constitutes a collection of SB officers' notes about alleged conversations with him, cannot be recognised as evidence. These services were able to produce evidence, which was far more striking as it was in the case of Fr Jerzy Popieluszko when some 'incriminating evidence' was found in his flat during a search. Therefore, one must not treat the documents made by the intelligence services as reliable data like the Gospel.
That's why many clergy and laymen lodge serious objections to the present form of the vetting law.
After presenting these comments we advice Archbishop Wielgus to summon good experts who will appear in court in order to clear him of the cruel imputation and at the same time he should demand the satisfaction from his slanderers.
I want to pay attention to a few things concerning the present vetting; it is a wild or uncontrolled vetting because it is not courts and other suitable state offices but journalists that give names, attack, slander and give wrong and unchecked opinions about people. It happens so that this stage of vetting processes includes mainly Catholic priests, and now bishops. Although it is said that there were numerous good bishops, priests who did not yield, at the same time those who have had a good reputation so far are lynched. And nobody will give them their good reputation back; they were kicked and stigmatised by the media.
Who assumes responsibility for this, for the present day situation the Polish Church? At one time Department IV and other communist factors destroyed the Church and the clergy, today it is virtually happening. May those who are responsible for the country see at last the harm that is being done to the Church. It is easy to start mechanisms destroying a good opinion, it is easy to place microphones - it is easy to kill morally and in a civilian way.
One should notice especially those journalists who have no respect for the people they accuse and those journalists who lay a claim to judge. Where are we? Poland should be friendly towards its citizens. Can the present circumstances testify that we are a law and justice-governed state? Can citizens, including priests, feel secure that nobody will discredit them; that nobody (as it was not long ago) will impute espionage to them, impute collaboration with powers hostile to the Homeland? One should deeply reflect on this.
We should also pay attention to the very essence of the problem, namely: are only historians to examine the problem of the SB informants and even can only accidental lawyers do so? After all, the system of the security services was thorough, well organised, had huge finances for its functioning, it employed psychologists and specialists in various fields. Who examined all aspects of the system? I do not think the examination of historians is enough. And who is interested in the opinions of those people who were interrogated, tormented, harassed and who experienced contacts with the SB? Has the Institute of National Remembrance got such means that can analyse the system of recruiting collaborators?
Let us notice that many priests approached the SB workers with a pastoral attitude. When they contacted them they could evangelise them. There were various ways, which we know from people's stories, leading people of the other party even to confessional booths. Communism did not fall because it was defeated by some political formation (as some columnists try to make us believe) but it was softened from inside. And the Polish Church and her clergy made a considerable contribution to the fall.
Today young journalists do not differentiate anything. As it was once the People's Commissars or infamous investigators in the Soviet Union, young journalists act against priests or bishops with great passion, again accusing them of actions against fellow citizens.
Some moderation would be needed when one calls somebody every name under the sun. What would be needed is differentiation: what happened and how it happened. Let me notice that striking a shepherd is an old trick in order to make sheep easy prey. In our country this is perhaps also revenge on clergy for their contribution to the fall of communism and of the SB system using means to debase people.
We remember what happened in the Soviet Union as far as destruction of faith is concerned. In Poland many people do their best to destroy priests' and bishops' good opinions. And they dare to say that they are friendly and call themselves Catholics. Perhaps they aspire to what became fact in some Western European countries that even unbelievers are members of the parish councils and control them in such a way that even a bishop cannot cope with them and that a parish priest can be ignored. Terrorizing clergy is the proved way to weaken the Church. May we avoid such a situation when we lack priests and bishops. Likewise Lord God can punish us for undermining confidence not only in one bishop but also in the whole Church.
The Pope is responsible for the Church, for appointing bishops. If the Holy Father has complete information about the situation, let journalists, including the 'Catholic' ones, respect his decisions.
I would like to refer to the important text of the Holy Father Benedict XVI spoken on 25 May 2006 in the Cathedral of St John in Warsaw during his meeting with the clergy:
'Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in facile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time.'
The present stand was made on the basis of the materials accessible till 9.00 a.m. on 5 January 2007.
Lublin, 11 September 1973
Plan of scientific research connected with receiving A. Humboldt scholarship In November 1972, the university authorities informed me about the possibility to apply for the A. Humboldt scholarship. I accepted this possibility. I sent suitable documents to the address of the Foundation, including my certificate of German after having passed the examination. In July 1973, Prof. Heisenberg, the President of the A. Humboldt Foundation, informed me that my application had been accepted and I was granted scholarship for the period of 1 February 1973 and 28 February 1974.
Because of that I applied for my passport. My application was considered within 6 weeks. I received my passport. Currently, after I have received a residence permit in the Federal Republic of Germany I am preparing to leave. My research plans for my stay in the Federal Republic of Germany are the following:
1) Within the framework of my habilitation research I intend to prepare a critical edition of the work entitled 'Aphorismi Ursonisi' by the 17th century philosopher Urson of Salerno. Many manuscripts of this work are in libraries in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany and because of that I expect that my work will be enriched with a number of extremely important elements,
2) Referring to my research on the biblical commentaries wrote by Polish Mediaeval authors conducted in the International Department of History of Culture of the Middle Ages at the Catholic University of Lublin I also intend to conduct research in this field since some part of these manuscripts are in the Federal Republic of Germany.
3) I intend to develop my interests based on my philosophical preparation and focused on philosophical-social subjects by getting interested in the activities and programmes of the researches conducted in German chairs and institutes that deal with contemporary philosophy and ideological-social subjects, especially if they have some reference to Poland.
4) I intend to focus especially on the so-called 'polonica' if I come across them in German scientific units.
Referring to the time of my stay in the Federal Republic of Germany I think that the 5-month period is too short to realise this large-scale plan of activities and thus I will try to receive consent of the suitable authorities of the Foundation to extend my scholarship.