Sunday, January 07, 2007

‘Red Priest’ resigns, but the Church fights back

Appointed by Pope Benedict on December 6 as Archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus resigns just before special ‘ingress’ ceremony this morning.

Watching on TV now it looks like a wedding where all the guests turn up only to discover it’s a funeral. President Lech Kaczynski is sitting in his pew with the wife. The whole of Poland’s political and religious establishment is there.

It’s like some sick reality TV show. Big Brother at prayer.

Archbishop Wielgus, thought proven to have been spying for the communist authorities over a period of 20 years, is there, humiliated. After all, only on Friday he made a statement saying: "I damaged the church. I denied the facts of this collaberation."

This contradicts previous statements he has made before denying any collaberation with the Communists.

Case closed then, surly?

But when the resignation was read out in the Cathedral this morning most of the congregation started shouting and chanting in protest. I have never seen anger in a Church before.

Then top Polish Catholic, Cardinal Glemp stands up to say a few words. But if the government – which will be defined in the history books for its relentless, ruthless vetting of public officials for collaboration with the communist regime – thought Glemp would be making some kind of apologetic statement on behalf of Wielgus, were in for a bit of a shock.

Cardinal Glemp said that ‘Today we have seen a ‘court’ where the evidence against amounts to Xerox copies of copies of copies of old documents. The case for the defense has not been put. We do not want this type of court.’

When he said these words applause rang throughout the cathedral. It seems that the Polish Church thinks that Wielgus – who admitted lying on Friday after a month long hounding by the media, by historians, by the government – thinks that he has been the victim of a witch hunt. Glemp seems to think that the government’s vetting process in this case has not been fair. Much of his flock appears to agree with him.

Someone in the Church shouts out ‘Stay with us…’

What looked to be the end of the matter seems to be only the start. Some in the Church now have joined a growing number who think that the 'vetting culture' here has turned into a frenzy of recrimination, of revenge, where innocent victims get caught up in the craziness (though as has been pointed out in the comments below, the irony is that Radio Maryja listeners - who have done as much to create this culture of revenge as anyone - are complaining the loudest. They are saying that the incriminating documents were leaked by someone who was in the communist secret services trying to screw the catholic Church..).

Revenge is the motive for much of what is happening today - not justice. I have seen at close hand a completely innocent person get caught up in this, accused of collaboration, of being ‘a Red’. It’s not pretty, it’s not fair, it’s not civilized, it’s not justice.

Sick, old Cardinal Glemp himself will now stay on in the role of Archbishop of Warsaw until they can find someone else who has no skeletons – real or imagined – in his closet.

Crowds are standing in the rain outside the Cathedral, chanting, protesting. Strange times in Poland get stranger still.

75 comments:

Romer!can said...

And yet if he had not been a collaborator, then what possible motive would he have had for admitting so? None, so far as I can see.

I'll have to disagree with any sentiment that seedy church leaders ought not be publicly revealed as the dangerous collaborators with the communist regimes who put them into power that they were. He's not going to jail over it; there's no need for tears. But it does, generally speaking, seem high time the high and mighty take their turn to fall from grace just a little bit. For liars who pretend to be agents of moral authority, I'd say there is a small bit of justice in having the crown of worms tarnished.

opamp said...

Heh.

beatroot, I find it amazing that you still don't understand Poland. But maybe this is because Poland is impossible to understand...

You see, the Polish church is not monolithic. So in this case, there was a group denying the accusations, comprised mainly of Radio Maryja and its followers and a (probably larger) group believing the accusations were substantiated (or at least worth investigating). Unfortunately the hierarchy uncritically pushed for ingress, polarizing the church members. So as a result, the cathedral was mainly filled with Wielgus' supporters, resulting in what you saw.

Cardinal Glemp was right that Wielgus was treated unfairly -- but then, the whole situation was caused by the hierachy uncritically pushing the case forward instead of investigating the rumors.

This what happened wasn't very nice, but the outcome is not very bad; it can be even viewed as a positive event. Having an agent of an anti-Church institution in the position of a top moral authority would probably cause a much greater harm to the Church.

beatroot said...

oPamp
Maybe this is a point you will never understand.

In today’s Poland, whether Wielgus is guilty or innocent is not nearly as important as how guilt or innocence is established.

Justice is a process

As Glemp was saying this morning when someone is accused of something as important and career defining as this then you have on the one hand the accusations, the prosecution; then you have the defense; then you have a body independent of both that comes to an objective and independent decision.

This has clearly not been the case here.

At lower levels of Polish society people are wlaking into work in the morning and suddenly being accused of being ‘a red’ a ‘communist fossil’…and that’s it: career over.

In a country that is a mature democracy an allegation would be made, a defense set up and then an adjudication independent of both accuser and accused would be made.

This is not happening in Poland today.

In the old days someone would be branded a ‘counter revolutionary’, a ‘Zionist’ and that was it. Nobody expected an independent and fair decision under communism because it was, well, communism.

And then Poland became a ‘democracy’ with due process of law and an independent process of justice.

Except it hasn’t – what it has at the moment is victor’s justice – just like in the bad old commie days.

And you don’t need to lecture me on the difference between the Radio Maryja radicals and the Established Church in Poland. Glemp, as part of the Established Church, showed today that he is aware of what a civilized method of justice looks like. Maryja hasn’t a clue.

geez said...

The Church is not, for better or for worse, a democracy.

The guy resigned. He admitted his guilt.

Glemp et. al. screwed up in pushing for his appointment without thoroughly investigating the almost-Bishop's past. Too late now for Glemp to insist upon unfairly convicting the guy. He admitted his guilt. He be gone.

Meanwhile, the Radio Maria folks are vengeful fascistic turds.

What's so hard to understand about all this?

sonia said...

This is a good exemple of how the plague of Communism spreads even to its avowed opponents. Like McCarthyism, it's a case of the Bolshevik paranoia reproducing itself in a sort of perpetuum mobile.

The important thing isn't whether Wielgus WAS a Communist sympatizer. The question is whether he IS one now... I don't care if he spied for Jarzelski. I wan to know what he thinks about Chavez...

There cannot be a just process in such circumstances. Just like under a revolution, accusation of sympathy with ancienne regime becomes a political weapon, in a post-Communist reality, accusation of collaboration with the Communist becomes a political weapon as well.

Glemp's speech might be, I hope, the 'Have You No Shame?' moment that finally brought McCarthy down... The moment when democracy and liberalism finally overcomes the Communist earthquake and its post-Communist aftershocks...

beatroot said...

Process is important. In fact, that is all Justice is. Look at the symbol for justice - that women with a pair of scales in her hand. Those scales represent the process and balance of Justice. If the worngs of communism are to be fought then they should be fought through its nemisis - Justice and Freedom.

beatroot said...

And Geez
The guy resigned. He admitted his guilt.

But this part of my point. In what context did he admit his guilt? This is very much part of the idea of Justice. When a confession comes after torture the confession is not sound. When a confession comes in the face of a media and political firestorm then that confession must be suspect too.

As I say, whether he is guilty or not is not the most relevant thing here. It's how that verdict is produced that is important in a modern society.

geez said...

But the Church cannot be equated, and isn't often by secular minded folk, with modern society, BR.

Bennie and the Vaticaners should have done their homework first instead of acting like the good ol' boys network they are before rushing the appointment of an old chum.

You're right though that there should have been more attention to process, justice and freedom from the get-go. That is before he received his appointment. Unfortunately, Church folk, especially leaders, have more than their share of foibles.

And some folks might even rejoin the Church if the leadership becomes completely fascist. Go figure.

opamp said...

When a confession comes in the face of a media and political firestorm then that confession must be suspect too.

Yes, but who caused the firestorm? The church hierarchy, indiscriminately pushing forward Wielgus' candidature. The case surfaced around Dec. 21. They should have postponed the ingress, formed a tribunal, ask IPN for files and judge the case -- there was enough time for that. But no... they called it an attack against the church and pushed forward anyway. And they are reaping what they sawn.

Besides, Wielgus was asked by the media about his involvement with SB. He denied. That satisifies due process for me -- unless you are expecting the media to organize a formal trial for him? This was the job of his colleagues, who have failed it miserably.

Anyway, his SB file is on the web, his statements as well. Judge for yourself.

Next, I really like your insight, but I don't really understand while you are mixing Kaczyńskis with that. Due to the nature of catholicism (and particularly the form and nature of the confession sacrament) it is required for the priests to be trustworthy persons; even moreso for the bishops. An SB collaborator is by definion not trustworthy and thus all the upheaval. When Isakowicz-Zalewski unearthed SB agents among the ordinary priests, it caused a relatively big storm -- so big in fact, that his book with evidence still hasn't been published. Now we have an alleged SB agent in bishop's rank. This is very serious.

So, I will reiterate: it is better that this nomination has been stopped, even in this indeed very unfortunate way.

Michael Farris said...

If I'm not mistaken he's maintained that his meetings with SB agents netted the SB no useful information and did no direct harm to anyone.
Is there evidence that he actually 'informed' on anyone in the sense that most rational people would understand the term (ie give names and information to the SB that allowed them to more effectively repress people?)

Meetings with SB representatives were pretty much unavoidable for lots of people who wanted to travel or study abroad and who held or wanted to hold any kind of responsible position.

Maybe he's a lying snake who maliciously informed on colleagues and maybe he's guilty of no more than wanting to broaden his horizons. The current atmosphere in Poland makes establishing the truth pretty much impossible.

If lustration cannot be carried out in a fair, transparent manner (which this nor any other media-based event has been) then it's not worth the effort.

John,Poznan said...

I feel that the Bishop was pushed by the Vatican rather than deciding for himself to resign.He has not shown himself to be honourable now or in the Communist Polish past.And PIS still support the church wrong whatever-this is a form of fascism in church and state-run for those in power ,not those they are supposed to serve and support-namely The Polish People.

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

Opamp
They should have postponed the ingress, formed a tribunal, ask IPN for files and judge the case -- there was enough time for that. But no... they called it an attack against the church and pushed forward anyway. And they are reaping what they sawn.

You are correct there. In fact, because these accusations have a criminal nature then a Court of law would be the best place. But more time is what the whole thing needed…

Mike
The current atmosphere in Poland makes establishing the truth pretty much impossible.

That’s what is soo depressing. You can imagine when another government comes in – and with the basic structure still the same as it has always been – they are going to put their own cronies in place and go after all the people that are now persecuting them, (and other innocent people who are getting caught up in all this).

And round we go again. How can the state develop in those circumstances?

Michael Farris said...

I can't help but wonder (in my endless cynicism) how this might hurt the ducks.

Lech was seen applauding the resignation letter (a tasteless gesture) and then stopped when he realized that there were more supporters than detractors of Wielgus in the church. And then Glemp indirectly came out strongly against the applauders (indirectly criticising Lech who doesn't have a history of dealing with criticism well). I really wish someone had taken Lech's picture during Glemp's homily.

beatroot said...

I really wish someone had taken Lech's picture during Glemp's homily.

That was exactly what I noticed!!! I was watching on TVP (TVN 24 were showing the pictures but had people in the studio commenting about it - which was crap. But while the homily was on the camera switched to Wielgus for reaction shot, then back to Glemp and then to anyone BUT Kaczynski.

His face would have sais a thousand words...

But the director either missed it, or more likely at the moment, TVP were told not to do that.

beatroot said...

I changed the post slightly in light of comments. I chuck this stuff up verrry quickly, so I am sometimes not as clear as I should be.

The main change is in this bit:

Some in the Church now have joined a growing number who think that the 'vetting culture' here has turned into a frenzy of recrimination, of revenge, where innocent victims get caught up in the craziness (though as has been pointed out in the comments below, the irony is that Radio Maryja listeners - who have done as much to create this culture of revenge as anyone - are complaining the loudest. They are saying that the incriminating documents were leaked by someone who was in the communist secret services trying to screw the catholic Church..).

‘Vetting culture’…has overwhelmed this country. And it is not being carried out in a just manner. I am not supporting Wielgus – as I am not ‘supporting’ Simon Mol in the previous posts. I am supporting a transparent and fair process of investigating people’s past. Otherwise the process is meaningless.

In the future I am going to change text in the posts after comments – if comments are correct. I think that is a cool way of writing a blog! It makes it more collaborative. I will always indicate when I do this.

opamp said...

In fact, because these accusations have a criminal nature then a Court of law would be the best place.

Huh? Collaboration with SB is not a criminal act. It was strictly a matter of morals and ethics. Unless of course you mean suing the papers for defamation...

beatroot said...

Huh!!!

I am sure that lawyers could find all sorts of legal angles to this.

What is the legal status of a tribunal? Poland is tribunal crazy. Whatever the form of judgment it should have a legal basis, with real power and independence and based on the Polish constitution.

jannowak57 said...

Wielgus’s guilt is not at issue here (perhaps the extent of collaboration), by the findings of the church commission, Poland's Institute of National Remembrance and his own admission there no basis for suggesting innocence.

The idea that lustration is the root of the problem is grotesque; the church is exempt by law from this process. The promotion of Wielgus to highest clerical office in Poland was strictly a church affair, which the hierarchy of the church screwed up beyond recognition. One can only imagine how infuriated the Pope must be for being led down the garden path.

The news media preformed the exact roll it should have in a democratic society, it informed the public and brought to public’s attention a serious matter.

The government in the person of President Lech Kaczynski, attending the cathedral ceremony, clapped after Wielgus announced his resignation. Like him or not he was consistent with his position on collaborators.

Wielgus in the last few days was completely irresponsible, he put his own interests ahead of the nation and the church. Wielgus said he talked with Poland's secret police in the communist era out of a lack of ``prudence, courage and determination,'' and because he had wanted to continue his academic studies. After that public statement, resignation was the only option left.

The attempt to appoint Wielgus to this high office was a slap in the face of the overwhelming majority of the clergy who are recognized by the people as pious and patriotic not to mention memory of those martyred in Poland’s struggle against the nazis and communists.

One can only lament, the church that produced great churchman and patriots like Cardinal Wyszyński and John Paul II would find itself descending to depth of publicly soiling itself with the likes of Wielgus.

beatroot said...

Yeah, but can't you put this whole thing in the context of the frenzy of diging in to someone's past?

I am not supporting any side here -and it used to be so easy to identify the BAD GUYS - atheist commies and liberals with no morals...and now it has become about the Church Establishment - I am calling for the end to this frenzy. Maryja helped create this process and now they don't like it. Which is darkly ironical.

So trying to seperate what is going on the Catholic Church in Poland misses the point about the vetting culture here.... which tries to justify itself as being good and pure by hounding the ghosts of the past in a way that the commies did. That is not a credible way to behave.

jannovak57 said...

Beetroot said: “the vetting culture here.... which tries to justify itself as being good and pure”

Had the Catholic Church been included in the vetting law a fiasco of this magnitude would not have occurred. He would have declared himself a collaborator (or face consequences for lying to the court) and it would have been over (yes his career progression stops there). But no they insisted to be exempt and look at the damage.

The church has a history of denial and cover up when they screw up; it’s a knee-jerk reaction to protect the institution. Before this story broke they shut down there own internal research on this matter of collaboration, why because the magnitude of the problem put them into a state of shock. They felt they could mange this in private.

The church by trying to cover and deny the truth generated the very disaster they disparately tried to avoid.

geez said...

BR wrote: Maryja helped create this process and now they don't like it. Which is darkly ironical.
___
Now this really is strange and hard to explain. I was looking at a BBC photo of the protesters outside the church and they looked like the mohair beret ladies but I thought they were against the almost-bishop. Now sure enuff, you've revealed it was them protesting in his behalf. And I thought they hated Glemp for criticizing Rydzik and Radio Maria.

beatroot said...

Exactly. I think, in this case, they think he is being set up by the ex-Commies....which is possible.

But in most cases they are for chasing the commies out of public life here with a zealotry common to the times...

jannovak57 said...

The vetting process is not a form prosecution and penalty. It’s to bring into public light those who collaborated with the SB thereby preventing these people from assuming certain positions no longer appropriate for them to hold. Secondly if not more importantly removing the potential for blackmail of people in key positions in both in government and society at large.

Beetroot said: “Maryja helped create this process and now they don't like it. Which is darkly ironical.”
Perhaps by changing their tune they’re buying themselves some relief from the any future attempts to bring them into line with the mainstream church. They could have used their media empire to destroy him instead they used him as leverage. I know it sounds like a conspiracy theory.

Anonymous said...

all over Europe all former communist sympathizers need to be flushed out for their support of this murderous system.

Communism (100 million killed) was worse than fascism (20 million killed)

geez said...

Such an attempt at numerical comparison only demonstrates that the fascists always got their asses kicked by the allies (including the commies)and thus had less time and opportunity to kill.

But even these numbers are way off. How many Russians were killed in WWII by fascists?

geez said...

Also, JanNowak ---

Doesn't it seem more like the Radio Maryja folk are trying to be more mainstream or at least more accepted by the mainstream within the context of the Church by agreeing with Glemp?

Michael Farris said...

"Doesn't it seem more like the Radio Maryja folk are trying to be more mainstream or at least more accepted by the mainstream within the context of the Church by agreeing with Glemp?"

RM wants the mainstream to come to them, not vice versa.

As far as I can tell, there's a _high_ degree of cognitive dissonance among the RM supporters.
They like(d?) the ducks because of their emphasis on conservative social values and commitment to limit scary free market economics and pledge to defend pensions.

They never have necessarily shared the ducks' passion for lustration (and behind their pious exterior, many of them know first hand how hard it was to live in that period without some... compromises they probably don't want to ever come to light) and PiS did not campaign heavily on lustration either.

In other words, RM listeners are simultaneously liable to blame 'communists' (never defined) for anything and everything that goes wrong now while simultaneously longing for the stability and (nostigically enhanced) security and better manners of those times. Like I said, cognitive dissonance.

They're also liable to view Wielgus's past as an internal church affair. That is, if his superiors in the church express faith in him, they assume he's been vetted internally and if he's (now) clean enough for Glemp (which he apparently was) then that's that.

The real crisis here isn't so much in the church (though that's obviously important) but between the hardcore "let's get back at the commies no matter where they are" crowd and the "what happens in the church stays in the church" crowd.

The duck has publicly put himself in the camp of the former. It will be interesting to see how RM reacts to the ducks now (Lech may come to regret that applause).

geez said...

OK, that makes as much sense as it can I spoze. Thanks for the post, Michael Farris.

jannovak57 said...

Radio Maryja is going to think very carefully before it sticks it to the Ducks, both the Ducks and Radio Maryja need each other.

But the boat has been rocked for the church hierarchy, Radio Maryja and the Ducks.

There will be a period of uncertainty. A new Archbishop of Warsaw will now be selected likely under the close supervision of the Vatican. Dealing with the SB collaborators may no longer be something the church can do completely in private.

The Vatican may use this opportunity to strengthen its hand against Radio Maryja.

It is likely the Pope ordered Wielgus to resign; Cardinal Glemp’s comments at the service were truly an interesting interpretation of the rule of Papal Infallibility. You would think after Glemp screwed this up beyond recognition he would show some humility.

geez said...

It does seem that the ultimate screw-up in pushing Wielgus forward can be attributed to Glemp. It is mighty difficult for me to believe, though, that Bennie did not know *anything* about Wielgus's collaboration until too late, according to that Vatican spokesman being quoted all over today. The ol' boys' network does 'em in again.

geez said...

And Glemp's dancing to pretty much the same tune as the RM folk. So if the Vatican is pissed at them, they gotta be really ticked at Glemp, too. No?

Michael Farris said...

Glemp did not mention the pope directly or indirectly IIRC his anger seemed aimed at the pro-vetting media and political establishment.

And Glemp has a long history of pissing people off.

Finally (most controversially) I wonder if Wielgus hasn't more or less fallen on his sword.
I've always assumed that the church (very much a political organization then) purposely had some priests pretend to collaborate (I can think of a few good reasons for them to want to do this).
Perhaps Wielgus was one such reverse mole and he'd been assured the records would have been disappeared and his reputation would be protected (or were purposely not mentioned in communications with the vatican). There's been an aura of being caught by surprise in the church about how far and fast the media investigation went.

Just wild speculation but if you assume that Wielgus was acting with church knowledge (and assume the church is not willing to make that public) a lot of behavior around the case makes sense in ways it doesn't if you assume Wielgus was a garden variety informer.

I care..but not that much.... said...

..LOL... it's good to know it's the same 'ol fucked up Poland! As always, the Church wants to have its cake and eat it too. The Church had collaborated with the PRL's government since the early ‘50s under agreement signed by Cardinal S. Wyszynski. It was a symbiotic relationship which allowed the Church a freedom to conduct its pastoral activities, run its own independent educational institutions and build churches without much interference from the officials, in return for … hmmm… certain level of collaboration perhaps….? (BTW: Other religions were not so lucky…or, maybe not so collaborative …)

The Church and certain PZPR officials (namely J. Cyrankiewicz and his friends) also created a joint venture – PAX industries - which for 35 years remained the biggest private sector undertaking allowed in the PRL. It was a very profitable enterprise and made some people (including families of the Church officials..) quite wealthy. How is it that nobody is even as much as mentioning any of that? Is it me, or the Polish history is being rewritten again?

jannovak57 said...

Michael Farris said “Wielgus was one such reverse mole”

If for one minute there was a possibility of this, the church would rush to publicize they had a disinformation program in place against the SB, and put to rest any use of the word collaborator.

When the hierarchy realized the magnitude of the problem, panic set in. The state of investigative journalism in Poland is still weak judging by the questions that weren’t asked. The methods used by the SB to recruit were generally two fold, the carrot and the stick. The carrot was access to a passport or some privilege and the stick was blackmailing someone for an illegal act or indiscretion. If a person ever took the carrot they would later blackmail them with threats of disclosure should they try to end the relationship. There were few carrots actually being offered, most was done by blackmail or similar form of coercion.

Now comes the question that makes collaboration only the tip of the iceberg, how many priests got caught in situations of sexual misconduct including abusing children (not an unknown problem in the Catholic church) and given a way out by the authorises i.e. spy for us or else.

The IPN files also have a large number of cases were priests simply said “no”, and it ended then and there. As a young priest Wielgus could have exercised common sense and immediately gone to his superiors in the church. But he instead either wanted the bribe or couldn’t go to the church authorities because he was being blackmailed.

jannovak57 said...

care..but not that much.... said... “The Church had collaborated with the PRL's government since the early ‘50s”

This analysis could not possibly be more incorrect or distorted, the church as a unique Polish institution has a proud record of defending Polish interests in the nation’s darkest hours. The current issue is about a very small number of individuals that let themselves, the nation and church down. An anti-catholic rant is not relevant to the discussion at hand.

Michael Farris said...

"the church would rush to publicize they had a disinformation program in place against the SB ... the church as a unique Polish institution has a proud record of defending Polish interests in the nation’s darkest hours"

Just as it's possible for me to imagine (with no. evidence. whatsoever!) a planned disinformation campaign against the SB it's easy for me to imagine the church would not want that known (among other things it makes them look like rational political actors rather than selfless partisans).

"The current issue is about a very small number of individuals that let themselves, the nation and church down. An anti-catholic rant is not relevant to the discussion at hand."

I can't think of anything more likely to lead to anti-catholic rants than public ad hoc non-transparent lustration as happened in the Wielgus case.

disclaimer: I'll admit to ignorance as to what actually went on between Wielgus and the SB. I just wish more public pontificators would admit to their ignorance as well.

geez said...

The problem with the analysis put forth by "care but not that much" and so many other folk on this blog (and elsewhere) is their assumption the Church is monolithic not only in Poland but universally.

I think Michael is probably correct in supposing there were some reverse moles but I doubt that Wielgus was one. I'm not convinced Church officials would rush to reveal they had a disinformation campaign in place; to do so would make them culpable to charges of being blatantly political -- which they are -- but they obviously can't come out and just say so.

And while Glemp did not mention the Vatican (smart on his part for a change), it still seems he royally screwed up and the Vatican bureaucrats won't listen to him anymore (they shouldn't have in the first place).

Jannovak57 said...

Michael Farris said... “ad hoc non-transparent lustration as happened in the Wielgus case”

We have two separate bodies investigating his case and they both reach the same conclusion, which was “willing cooperation with the SB”. We have 68 documents over a twenty-year period, his signature on some of the documents. We have over 50 separate meeting/contacts with the SB. We have Wielgus’s own admission, all be it with the qualification that his actions didn’t hurt anyone. A qualification he has no right to make, as he doesn’t know with certainty.

The documents being considered by the investigators were made public on the Internet for all to review.

I don’t know the mechanic of what happened between him and the SB, it would remain speculation forever short of the SB officers coming forward.

The same collection of files that proved to be the undoing of Wielgus shows evidence where priests did the right thing. There was one case were after pressuring a priest to become an informer the placed a document in front of him and demanded his signature. He wrote I love my country; I love my God and signed it. The SB officer wrote in his report it’s pointless to deal with this religious fanatic. And they left him alone.

The SB murdered a number of priests over the years; a famous case was Jerzy Popieluszko, murdered by the SB in 1984. It was intelligence information gathered through informers that in part was used in making the decision and carry out the act.

Albert said...

(from "care but not that much..aka astopniewicz)
jannovak57 said...”This analysis could not possibly be more incorrect or distorted..[..]”

Not sure how we got to the “anti-catholic rant” part, since I have made no anti-catholic statements as jannovak57 might imply. Was it the part about other religions not being so lucky? I will try to correct that :)

Dear jannovak57, I would kindly point you in the direction of the census data. Over the 35-year period of the “old regime” the number of non-Catholics in Poland steadily declined, whereas the number of Polish Catholics was on a continuous rise. All of that while the overall population numbers were growing. How do you explain the fact that 20 years after the fall of the communist government the Catholics still account for 93% of the population.

I would be more than happy to see legitimate historical documentation (as opposed to a pro-catholic rant) to contradict the facts I have previously pointed out. Facts, as opposed to feelings and opinions.. I will agree that Polish Church is a unique Polish institution – in no other country (not even in contemporary Spain and Italy) is the Church more involved in the politics. It has always been that way. The Church is now, and has always been in it for its own interests and/or self-preservation.

Albert said...

(cont.) I will also have to agree that the current issue is about a very small number of individuals – the ones who remained true to the tenets of their faith and not the “party line” of the institution they have been a part of. Finding them will be the real challenge for the Church and its followers. Or, perhaps, (if you can turn off for a moment your religiosity-fueled, sanctimony-flavored brand of nationalism) we can find in our hearts to forgive those who strayed for they were faced with rather impossible choices. What would Jesus do….hmm….?

Albert said...

BTW: It seems that the moderator has blocked my IP adress - why would you do that in the middle of such a stimulating and really quite civil conversation? That wasn't very nice :)

jannovak57 said...

Albert said: “other religions not so lucky”

In so far as the smaller religious groupings were less able to withstand communist harassment I will agree. The authorities would have gone after smaller groups first as they did in the GDR. With respect to an increase in the proportion of Catholics, ethnic assimilation and emigration could be the more accurate explanation.

As for the Catholic Church getting into a sweetheart deal smelling of collaboration, I think not.
Wikipedia: “The 1950s were a time of persecution by the Communist authorities; the Stalinist ideology claimed the Church and religion in general was about to disintegrate. Archbishop Wyszyński decided to enter an agreement with the Communist authorities, which was signed on 14 February 1950 by the Bishops of Poland and the government. The Agreement regulated the matters of the Church in Poland. Yet already in May of that year Sejm passed a law for the confiscation of Church property, thus breaching the Agreement. In 1953 another wave of persecution began. When the bishops voiced their opposition to state interference in ecclesiastical appointments, mass trials and the internment of priests began. Father Wyszyński, who was made a cardinal in November 1952, also became a victim of the persecution. On 25 September 1953 he was imprisoned at Grudziądz, and later placed under house arrest in monasteries in Prudnik near Opole and in Komańcza in the Bieszczady Mountains. He was not released until 26 October 1956.”

With respect to PAX, it was a transparent attempt of divide and weaken the church, didn’t seem to work.
Wikipedia: “After the war, in 1945, Piasecki cofounded and directed a so-called social progressive movement of lay Catholics, grouped around the weekly publication "Dziś i Jutro". In 1947 he created the PAX Association and was the chairman of its governing body (until his death). Until 1956, during the period of Stalinism, this organisation was one of the main tools employed by the Communist regime to decrease the influence of the Catholic Church in Poland. It had almost an exclusive right to publish "Catholic" publications. In return it vocally supported anti-church actions taken by the government. After 1956 the importance of PAX diminished (and Piasecki's role along with it), though it remained a prominent organisation until 1989 and its successors still exist today.”

geez said...

And if anyone wants to go beyond Wikipedia, may I suggest Jonathan Luxmoore and Jolanta Babich's excellent _The Vatican and the Red Flag_?

BTW, Albert, if Beetroot is off in Eqypt, my guess is that you were not blocked but will have to put up with the glitches in blogger.com like the rest of us (make sure you save your post before you send it because more than one individual's posts have been lost to cyberspace).

I do think suggesting that the Catholic Church as a whole or its leadership, as you seemed to imply, could be interpreted as somewhat anti-Catholic or at least misinformed. I think JanNovak spelled out that while there were indeed a small group of collaborationists, they were about 10% and the exception, not the rule.

And about forgiving those who strayed in the face of "rather impossible choices".... Then consider forgiving Wyszynski and others in the hierarchy for dealing with the communists instead of labeling them collaborationists (which can also be interpreted as an anti-Catholic rant).

And just saying no to being a snitch wasn't all that impossible as indicated by the records.

And I can forgive the likes of Wielgus et al insofar as they own up to what they did and didn't do, and explain their circumstances, instead of denying they did what they did making matters all so much worse.

Albert said...

"geez" thanks for the recommendation – I’ll certainly look it up. I don’t want to sound lawyerly here, but I guess we would have to define “collaboration.” I would tend to agree with you that only a small number of people actually “snitched.” But I also know that a lot of people found themselves in a position where a piece of paper was put in front of them to sign as a condition of continued employment (e.g. all employees working foreign assignments or involved in foreign trade were in that situation.) Some folks‘ were merely interviewed by the authorities and yet their names appeared on “The List.” The question is which category was Wielgus in? If it’s the former, I guess he had it coming (although, shouldn’t there be some kind of “statute of limitations” on that ..) If it’s the latter though, I would say that the guy is getting ‘the short end of the stick’ due to the politics within the inner circles of the Church.

jannovak57 you said “[..] With respect to an increase in the proportion of Catholics, ethnic assimilation and emigration could be the more accurate explanation.” I must strongly disagree with you. I’m not sure what “ethnic assimilation” means in the context of Poland. I’m guessing that you are referring to the Jewish population. In which case, although I disagree with the term you’re using, I agree that there was some assimilation and emigration there (albeit forced in many cases). However, keep in mind that there used to be other religions too: the Lutherans, the Russian-Orthodox, etc.

I hope I didn’t offend anybody with my comments - that was not my intention. My joining this discussion is based entirely on a knee-jerk reaction to what I perceive (rightly or wrongly) as the tendency to paint the history (..or as I call it: “My Life”..  ) in black and white. In reality, it was many shades of grey.

Barry said...

Michael Farris and friends,

A reminder...the phrase the 'ducks' is disrespectful. No matter how much you may dislike the President of Poland and so on, you should still refer to their proper name. Farris, should we refer to you as "the arrogant pinhead from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan", or just "pinhead"? Surely not, it just wouldn't be too nice, now would it?

Michael Farris said...

barry,

I'll keep that in mind in case you ever take over the comments section of this blog or if I comment on your blog.

Until then I'll refer to public figures how I see fit (within the parameters set by the person whose blog this is).

geez said...

Albert: It's already been established by an independent commission that Wielgus went over the line -- and that he wasn't on the up and up in being forthcoming about what was what to his superiors in the Church. Jan Novak (below) pretty much summed it up:

Again, if he was honest about it, it may have not been the problem it has turned out to be. Or alternatively, he may have been honest but his superiors initially poo-pooed it and now they've been caught with their britches down. It's still unclear what happened and even seems to be getting murkier.

I don't normally recommend anything by Richard Neuhaus because I tend to be mightily distressed by his and George Weigel's and Michael Novak's rants (though I do frequently keep an eye on First Things) but the January 9th entry herein adds to the mix:

http://www.firstthings.com/

But as JanNovak summed it up:

"We have two separate bodies investigating his case and they both reach the same conclusion, which was “willing cooperation with the SB”. We have 68 documents over a twenty-year period, his signature on some of the documents. We have over 50 separate meeting/contacts with the SB. We have Wielgus’s own admission, all be it with the qualification that his actions didn’t hurt anyone. A qualification he has no right to make, as he doesn’t know with certainty.

The documents being considered by the investigators were made public on the Internet for all to review.

I don’t know the mechanic of what happened between him and the SB, it would remain speculation forever short of the SB officers coming forward."

BTW, I think the dux r fux and gabba gabba hey.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3pSfKHlGLo

Not to mention that Zippy lives:

http://www.zippythepinhead.com/

Augustus Fink-Nottle said...

Barry,

Ducks, Kartoffeln, buraki - the choice is unlimited.
The respect needs to be earned first.

Anonymous said...

referring back to Sonia's point on Chavez. So in a democratic state one is not able to show their support for a leader of another democratic state who was elected by 63% of society in an election with a 75% turnout??
Countries such as the USA and Poland could only dream of such genuine democratic support.

jannovak57 said...

anonymous said... “elected by 63% of society in an election with a 75% turnout?? ”

So what, Hitler got a good voter turn too. And Poland’s communist governments usually got elected by 97% of the vote (took the SB about a week to find the other 3%). Any nation can be bamboozled by some socialist bullshit artist. The question at hand is how much damaged he’ll do and how long will it take to undue the damage.

Augustus Fink-Nottle said...

Anon,

Yes, she also said

This is a good exemple of how the plague of Communism spreads even to its avowed opponents. Like McCarthyism, it's a case of the Bolshevik paranoia reproducing itself in a sort of perpetuum mobile.

The important thing isn't whether Wielgus WAS a Communist sympatizer. The question is whether he IS one now... I don't care if he spied for Jarzelski. I wan to know what he thinks about Chavez...


She's soooooooooo confused. This is precisely the kind of thing McCarthyists wanted to know.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

jannovak said:

anonymous said... “elected by 63% of society in an election with a 75% turnout?? ”

So what, Hitler got a good voter turn too. And Poland’s communist governments usually got elected by 97% of the vote (took the SB about a week to find the other 3%)


Another twister. Before seizing power, i.e. in the days of democracy, Hitler never got over 50% votes. And comparing Venezuelan election, generally agreed to be fair, with pseudo-elections conducted in PRL is a kind of thing that "Trybuna Ludowa" was so good at it.

Any nation can be bamboozled by some socialist bullshit artist. The question at hand is how much damaged he’ll do and how long will it take to undue the damage.

Why only socialist? Look at the US and the neocons. Or is bullshit bullshit only when it's socialist bullshit?

Jannovak57 said...

gussie Fink-Nottle said...“Why only socialist?”

Because it’s a failed out of date ideological position.

So far Mr. Chavez has shut down a TV station because it opposed his views, started the process of amalgamating the political parties that supported him into one large party in preparation of a single party state and the process of nationalizing businesses is in full swing. Seems to be a rerun of Fidel in Cuba, a country that has only it’s poverty and destitution to show for it. Today in Cuba economic desperation causes university educated Cuban women to sell themselves to tourists for a few American dollars.

There is no historical precedent that would make me belief this methodology will work elsewhere, when without exception every application has been been a failure.

Latest news flash: Chavez is now trying to change the constitution to remove term limits……sounds like president for life routine.

Albert said...

jannovak57 said "Today in Cuba economic desperation causes university educated Cuban women to sell themselves to tourists for a few American dollars."

Be careful there jannovak57… The reason for that is the continuing economic blockade by the US and not the failed economic policy. As a matter of fact, Cuban government took some gutsy actions to keep the country afloat, e.g. revamping their bio-pharm industries and establishing Cuba as a major player in the generic drug market. Let’s try not to smear people just because we don’t agree with their ideology.

jeeves said...

The reason for that is the continuing economic blockade by the US and not the failed economic policy.

-- Homo Sovieticus?

Albert said...

Dear "jeeves" - like I said, don't smear people just because they have different opinions. I guess we should not expect too much from a guy who calls himself "jeeves"... I'll ring the bell next time I need your opinion ;)

geez said...

Tee-hee.

Actually, Albert, gussie reduced me and most Poles to the category homo sovieticus or somesuch (we're incapable of independent thought) in the January 6th discussion.

So consider yerself in good company.

And you might want to google the name gussie fink-nottles to find the relationship he has to Jeeves.

Jannovak57 said...

Albert and Jeeves said:"blockade"

The embargo is the excuse not the reality; there is only one country on earth that has an economic embargo on Cuba, it’s the USA. The US accounts for 13% approximately of world trade. They can’t get by on the other 87% who seem quite prepared to trade with them?

Or is the issue really, a centrally planned economy that can’t compete because of waste and inefficiency? Why would you feel that Cuba could make something work that failed in every other place it was applied. Communism failed to meet the basic material needs of the population and therefore was destined to collapse as it did.

If the embargo were dropped it would mean little to the Cuban economy except for cigar exports and Americans in the line up at the whorehouse. These are hardly pillars of economic recovery.

Is it a real embargo anyway? Per year figures 2005

80,000 US visitors to Cuba
3000 US business visits to Cuba
1 Billion USD in funds sent by exiles to their families in Cuba
Cuba purchases $ 400,000,000 in agricultural products from US.

The Cuban government can get the embargo lifted any time it wants, American conditions are easy to meet, release political prisoners and hold open and free elections.

Consider this, the 1.5 million Cuban American population (the exiles) have a GDP nearly twice that of the entire Cuban Republic (11 million).

Albert said...

well.. "Jeeves & Wooster" happened to be one of my favorite shows. To quote Jeeves: "Those men, sir, seem to have been labouring under serious misapprehension" ..or, to quote another great philosopher, Hank Hill "The boy ain't right!"

Anonymous said...

Venezuela = socialism + democracy.
Sort of what Solidarność used to fight for.

21st century socialism. get used to it.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

Geezer said:

Tee-hee.

Actually, Albert, gussie reduced me and most Poles to the category homo sovieticus or somesuch (we're incapable of independent thought) in the January 6th discussion.


I'm not "Jeeves"
Tell me , Geezer, is your education technical?
BTW, if you think I have a bad opinion about Poles, just read comments of foreigners living in Poland to today's > article, by Timothy Garton Ash

Here is one beaut by someone who lived 8 years in Poland:
Poland is a country where the majority of noble and compassionate souls have been eradicated by partitions, wars and regimes. All that is left is scum that would commit to anything in order to survive. Poles are friendly at first glance, but if you scratch the surface you see an ugly picture of rot, hate and corruption.

So wake up and smell the roses. Few more years of the rule by the pisuars and constant stalking of hate and bigotry and Poland's reputation will take generations to recover.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

Jannovak57 said...

Albert and Jeeves said:"blockade"

The embargo is the excuse not the reality; there is only one country on earth that has an economic embargo on Cuba, it’s the USA. The US accounts for 13% approximately of world trade. They can’t get by on the other 87% who seem quite prepared to trade with them?


EU account for a similar percentage of world trade. Now imagine an effect of EU's trade embargo on Poland.

Anonymous said...

gussie Fink-Nottle said. “just read comments of foreigners living in Poland to today's “

We really don’t give a Fuck about what foreign cockroaches think about us, they exist amongst us at our pleasure, like a monkey in a zoo. If they become tiresome, well you know from our history we understand how to take care of business. The EU and it’s values will get lip service until we extract the last Euro out of those bastards.

Tell me, do you know the name of the syphilitic whore who brought you into this world or which participant in the gangbang actually fathered you.

Think of it as being a houseguest at first you’re a cherish guest but quickly you find yourself transforming into a pest. A metamorphosis starting as an amusing curiosity and quickly becoming an object of distain. The same mental process that makes one hesitate when seeing a bug walk across the floor before stepping on it.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

Anonymous said...

We really don’t give a Fuck about what foreign cockroaches think about us, they exist amongst us at our pleasure, like a monkey in a zoo. If they become tiresome, well you know from our history we understand how to take care of business.


You mean pogroms of Jews? Yes, at that Poland was really good. Not so good at kicking out more powerful, huh? Losing every single war and uprising for, oh I don't know, 300 years? Maybe it had something to do with the type of thinking you present? Never able to secure a genuine alliance - because every foreigner is suspect.

.The EU and it’s values will get lip service until we extract the last Euro out of those bastards.

Bravo! Not only a whore, but also not ashamed to admit that you are a whore!

However, I have news for you. It is the EU that will change Poland, and xenophobes like you will die out.
If not, then the EU money will be well spent on building the largest open air museum in the world. Visit Poland, where time stands still.

Albert said...

Gussie - I must say you have hit the nail on the head! Couldn't have said it better myself - bravo!

geez said...

Again, I'm in a quandry trying to figure out who the bigger bigots are....

geez said...

Hey gussie, you make it look like Timothy Garton Ash is the person who lived in Poland for eight years who makes a comment about Poles being scum comes pretty close to slanderous. Ash is not and has never been the bigot you and your chums are.

geez said...

From a very pro-Vatican reporter, there is the following which indicates that Wielgus was a strong Radio Maryja supporter and "protector":

There are the fiery campaigns of Poland’s Radio Maryja (unconnected to the broadcaster of the same name in Italy), which has engaged in mudslinging to the point of accusing Lech Walesa, the icon of the peaceful overthrow of the communist regime, of collaborating with that regime, but then defended to the end archbishop Wielgus, a great protector of the radio network, against the same accusations.

Also from the same article, this:
But there’s more. The current director of “Tygodnik,” Fr. Adam Boniecki, once a personal friend of Wojtyla’s and head of the Polish edition of “L’Osservatore Romano,” has said:

“I don’t know who, but someone has misled pope Joseph Ratzinger. This is a serious matter, and someone must pay for it, in Poland or in the Vatican.”


For the full article:
http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=110361&eng=y

Romer!can said...

For the few who continue to read this post/thread, I wanted to share news of a similar event happening in Hungary, although the fervor of defense appears to been wisely lacking.

geez said...

thanks, romerican! Such info is precisely why I still like the BR blog despite all the recent BS.

beatroot said...

What BS, Mr Geeeezzz? Prey tell...

geez said...

From the Warsaw Voice:

"Some experts on Vatican affairs say the pope will possibly appoint a team to put matters in the Polish church back in order-especially since Benedict XVI is still facing the task of appointing, sooner or later, a new head of the Warsaw archdiocese."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.