We do not want such judgements
Homily delivered in St John's Cathedral in Warsaw, on 7 January 2007 Jozef Cardinal Glemp, the Primate of Poland
This Sunday is called the Baptism of the Lord. It ends the period of Christmas and introduces us to the liturgical sequence of Holy Masses and liturgy that will speak about the work of Jesus Christ concerning the formation of the Church during his earthy life.
But moreover, this Sunday is called the Sunday of God's Servant. This Servant of God is firstly revealed in the first reading and he is a well formed man, who is guided by God, who understands God's intentions and acts in such a way as not to break the crushed reed, not to snuff the faltering wick, but to promote God's law, and to promote it with courage and all over the world, and to incline people to follow God's commandments. This is the vision of the Servant of the Lord shown in the Old Testament, and when we listen to the reading from St Luke's Gospel we can see that John the Baptist is as it were the outline of such a Servant of God. But he is not the proper Servant since the true Servant of God is the Son of God himself - Jesus Christ. He lets to be baptized in the Jordan like other sinners in order that people hear the voice from heaven 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'
This is the contents that very deeply introduce us to the essence of the Church and to the ministry for the Church, ministry of the people who are to sanctify themselves and through their sanctification show God in the world and proclaim his law to the world, and at the same time to introduce all what is of heaven, what is supernatural, what constantly comes to the earth from God, the source of love. One can see such ideals in today's liturgical readings. But we are in a concrete situation today. I greet the Reverend Cardinal and all Archbishops, the Chairman of the Bishops' Conference, all the honourable Priests, all the gathered in great numbers, Mister President of the Republic of Poland and all the distinguished people whose hearts and conscience feel responsible for the history and progress of the Homeland. They also see their own callings in this vision of the Servant of the Lord. Especially this year, which has the motto 'Consider your own calling'. There are as many callings as there are social functions, as there are personal charismas.
These are the circumstances that have brought us here to pray in this honourable Warsaw Cathedral so as to, as we intended, the new Archbishop could take on his duties for his further sanctification. Warsaw is not an easy city. We know - the capital, and trends of thoughts, feelings often anticipate other centres. When we think about the past, this place shows examples of great heroism but also examples of lost, weakness, difficulties. The Church takes part in all of this. There is no situation in which the faithful leave the Church and there is no situation in which the Church leaves its faithful, and in fact the nation. The demolition of the cathedral is the last fragment of the history we remember. For the cathedral was destroyed together with Warsaw. The front line was here, blood was shed here, the ruins were here but under these ruins, in the basement there were still old graves which survived and which were as if the sign of this endurance, this lasting, which must remain here.
And the temporary misunderstanding, which took place during the January Uprising, remains the clearest example. As a matter of fact it was just before the uprising when Fr Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, who was a lecturer in Petersburg, was appointed Archbishop of Warsaw. It was from Petersburg that came a priest, appointed archbishop. That evoked many contradictory emotions because the emotional condition of those times was considerably higher and patriotism was consider being superior.
Well, this archbishop - and he was a holy archbishop - in spite of the initial, spontaneous aversion, loved this nation so much that when he opposed the Tsar, actually in the middle of the January Uprising, the Tsar summoned him and ordered him not to return to Warsaw, and he sent him to the land stretching beyond the Ural. And he stayed there, never returning to his bishop's see, until his death.
I can also remind you of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski since how can I not mention such a great figure of the Servant of God who preached the Word of God in this place for so many years, but who also suffered, and who loving Warsaw imparted the light of his spirituality on what is good, noble in us, what in Warsaw is awakened as a desire for good, beauty, reliability.
I tried to follow the way of my great Predecessor, and these were hard times. The transition from the system of the PRL [Polish People's Republic] to independent Poland, having a democratic system; these are not only years of my struggle, but struggle of all people, especially the clergy and laymen dedicated to the Church, who understood the Church. This was constant, gradual growth of understanding of the work of the Divine Providence that often tries people and uses the trials to strengthen us and for the growth of our dignity.
Bishop Wielgus also becomes part of these figures that we understand to be Servants of the Lord. Yes, Archbishop Wielgus is a Servant of God. The fact that he experienced various vicissitudes, these are trials that should serve to build up man so that one should understand more his dependence on God, and at the same time the need to see evil in depth.
Looking at the life of Archbishop Wielgus we know how much he loved science, how much he loved the science of theology, i.e. the teaching of the Church. And he made such progress in this field that the forces of the Security Service got interested in him. What were the Security Services? It was the organization or the institution of the Polish People's Republic that was to guard the 'correctness of characters'. That means: not to have the excesses of bourgeoisie, not to have ideological deviations, not to have the excesses of sanctimoniousness, to form people in accordance with the model imposed by the Marxist-Leninist ideology. This was a huge organization that penetrated all social layers; perhaps the clergy in a special way since they were most independent and they cultivated patriotism as no other group did. This ideology passed through conscience as a road roller and tried to make them flat in order to even out everything to the level of the communist of those times.
In Poland this road roller had certain dilatations, it did not crush so much as in other countries. But it was everywhere and that's why it penetrated the most talented people and it did its best to gain control over them. Today we know neither this strategy nor ways, and even if we know, we have heard of it but we have not examined it systematically and there were no systematic lectures on it.
So Archbishop Wielgus as a priest, very zealous priest, went astray. The system did not like him and he was reprimanded for being fervent. Today it is easy to say that he got drawn in the whirl but we do not know the ways, the pressure that was exerted to make such an act happen - the act that was illegal since there were intimidation, threats and yells. Today we do not know about that; today we know that it was.
Furthermore, we do not know how he left the ranks, how they got rid of the useless servant. The documents are silent in this respect. Today a judgment was passed on Bishop Wielgus. But what kind of judgment was it, based on shreds of paper photocopied three times over? We do not want such judgments! If one has concrete charges against someone they should be formulated and the accused must take a position on them. Moreover, defenders must speak, there must be witnesses, and the documents must be verified. All of this was missing in the judgement passed on Bishop Wielgus. This was not a judgement.
Bishop Wielgus was forced to collaborate by insults, shouting, yell. Why is his collaborator not testifying today? After all, today we can count several dozen thousand SB officers who are placed in good, I think, posts, and we have no witness who can testify now...
Thus it is hard to think about the IPN [Institute of National Remembrance] in all seriousness. To think that the institute is the oracle and source of information about citizens for the whole state. This is categorically too little since it is too difficult and too superficially touched, and this is a large blot on the contemporary generation that must get out of that.
Brothers and Sisters! Our ecclesiastical criteria concerning the qualifications of the Servant of God are not based only on his impeccable past. The past is also the domain of Lord God who can forgive the contrite man and give him absolution. And we do not only mean priests because the people who were forced to subdue to the Security Service are numerous and they follow other professions.
But I think about this general statement that in his strategy of service, in his calling of the Servant of the Lord, God has other categories of qualification, other criteria. I want to remind you of one event that is characteristic of the Church. Lord Jesus called St Peter as the head of the College of the Apostles and the head of the Church. St Paul is not a crystal; he was not an ideal without any blemish. On the contrary, we see weaknesses in his life; sometimes we see hesitation, sometimes even wrong council. This was the character of St Peter; especially that he denied Lord Jesus himself. And then he wept. But Lord Jesus, coming to Peter, asked him, 'Do you love me?' This was the criterion! St Peter answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you'. And then the most important decision was taken, the highest appointment, 'Feed my sheep'.
So, Brothers and Sisters, the Church has her own opinion because this is not only the point of view of the earthly institution, although there are such categories as well, but this is the vision of the mystical body of Christ. We are the living members through whom the grace flows. And the grace is the abundance of God's goodness. And we must form ourselves in this way. As priests we are taken from among the community and what touches people touches us, too. We have our friends who are doctors, engineers, technicians and lawyers; we are taken from among the community in order to serve the community through Christ. And thus we strongly adhere to Christ in difficult moments. Since that makes a difference: to 'feed the sheep' when they obey and to do so when they feel aversion. And the Church also takes this into consideration but the basic principles are always the same. Especially the principle of love. The more we love Christ and teach his love the better priests and better shepherds we are.