We should be cautious to pass judgement

Fr Ireneusz Skubis

Recently there have appeared some books concerning priests, including bishops, whom the Security Service (SB) managed to break and urged to collaborate with them. The books also give names of those who were unrightfully listed as secret collaborators. Furthermore, the materials concern the bishops and priests who resisted the pressure of the SB. We find many commentaries concerning the book by Fr Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zalewski who certainly writes about heroism of the Church but also focuses on those who were broken. And because of that much more is spoken about those who did not resist the pressure.
We should pay our attention to the opinions of historians that say that the materials of the Institute of National Memory (IPN) are incomplete and do not reflect the whole reality, which was so difficult and sad. We are afraid that many of the people whose names have been mentioned in these publications can be treated in an unjust way. If one has not got complete materials how can one pass judgement? Perhaps in the missing files there could be the explanation that these were the people who fight against the communist regime and were not broken? Perhaps the missing files contain important circumstances? In Fr Zalewski's book one bishop was accused of taking money for his collaboration with the SB whereas the Church Historical Commission informed that they had found no information in the documents. And one can ask: who is responsible for this information, is there any morality of both the researches and the publications?
Those people who have courage to reveal the behaviours and the past of their neighbours bear great responsibility.
I have been always circumspect in my statements to avoid defaming anyone. If some information appears in the media it is spread in the world. Therefore, 'Niedziela' acts with big circumspection, trying to avoid the sin of unfair judgements. Who is going to repair the evil, which was so light-heartedly done? 'Who is going to return their tears?', warned Saint Queen Jadwiga. We have always thought that every man has the right to defend himself, that there must be the situation 'audiatur et altera pars' - let the second side be heard. This is a wise adagium of the Roman law, stressing that man has the right to defend his good fame, his good name and the accused have the right to defence. But it is the media that give a quick and unequivocal judgement in almost every matter, which is brought up.
Work on the contents of the IPN files will last years. It will involve many people, specialists in this subject, and they will not only consider the historical-political aspects of the files but also the aspect of personality, considering the natural impulses of self-defence. It is said that the files should be examined by the people who lived in those days, who knew similar situations themselves. Let them work in the IPN and let them discern particular cases. If the files are examined by young people who know the communist regime only from books, films and caricatures of the Polish People's Republic, which is so fashionable today - the caricatures that ridicule certain behaviour and thus promotes it perversely - they are known to be just not too much competent to evaluate a given situation, let alone pass judgements. Many of those who were afflicted by the secret police are dead; many are too weak to return to such painful matters.
When Fr Isakowicz-Zalewski's book appeared we heard many different opinions but the book did not cause sensation. Many commentaries were balanced and authentic in their search for the truth in love. It was mentioned that the materials in the IPN files were not complete and could not serve to reveal the truth in an objective way. Therefore, we should read the materials with due caution and encourage those who feel harmed to go to court that can settle these complicated problems.
And most of all we should consider these verdicts with big peace, and we should not utter unjust, unfair and unnecessary words. Let Lord God be the Ultimate Judge. The truth will be fully revealed before the Last Judgement. But we also count on God's mercy in his fair judgements.

"Niedziela" 10/2007

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl