- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2007

WARSAW — A second prominent Catholic clergyman quit his post yesterday amid accusations that he collaborated with Poland’s communist-era secret police, a day after Warsaw’s new archbishop resigned after admitting that he had cooperated with the despised agency.

The Rev. Janusz Bielanski resigned as rector, or head priest, of Krakow’s prestigious Wawel Cathedral, the burial site of Polish kings and queens.

Father Bielanski has submitted his resignation to Krakow’s archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, “in connection with repeated allegations about his cooperation with the secret services” of the communist era, said Robert Necek, a spokesman for the cardinal.

Cardinal Dziwisz, a longtime secretary of the late Pope John Paul II, “accepted the resignation,” Father Necek added. John Paul served as priest and later archbishop of Krakow before his election as pontiff.

John Paul’s opposition to communism is credited with inspiring the rise in the 1980s of Poland’s pro-democracy Solidarity movement, which helped end communist rule in 1989.

The announcement of Father Bielanski’s resignation comes a day after Stanislaw Wielgus, archbishop of Warsaw only since Friday, stepped aside in a dramatic announcement made during what was supposed to have been his installation Mass. The revelations about him, and his sudden resignation, have rattled Poland and revealed deep divisions within the church.

The disclosures have shaken a widely held belief that the church acted as a courageous opponent of communism. Secret police agents not only spied on the church, but also killed a charismatic Warsaw priest tied to Solidarity, the Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko, in 1984.

Poland’s top bishop, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, came under criticism for defending Archbishop Wielgus — a stance that put him at odds with the Vatican and many Polish faithful.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, said Archbishop Wielgus was right to go because his past actions had “gravely compromised his authority.”

But Cardinal Glemp, who has served as Warsaw archbishop for the past 25 years and will continue in office until a successor is found, delivered a homily defending Archbishop Wielgus. The cardinal called the archbishop “God’s servant” and warned of the dangers of passing judgment based on incomplete and flawed documents left behind by the communist authorities.

The Dziennik daily called Cardinal Glemp’s defense a “huge mistake.”

“He presented Wielgus as a victim of an assault, an innocent, hunted person. He didn’t even mention that the archbishop lied to the last minute. That he lied to the pope, bishops and faithful,” the newspaper said.

Accusations that Archbishop Wielgus was involved with the secret police were first raised by a Polish weekly on Dec. 20 and turned into a crisis Friday when a church historical commission said it had found evidence that he had cooperated.

Archbishop Wielgus initially denied the accusations but then acknowledged signing an agreement in 1978 promising to cooperate with the secret police in exchange for permission to leave Poland to study in West Germany.

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