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Warsaw archbishop quits amid spying scandal

Warsaw's new archbishop has resigned amid a scandal over his cooperation with the communist-era secret police, Poland's Roman Catholic church said Sunday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Warsaw’s new archbishop resigned amid a scandal about his cooperation with the communist-era secret police, Poland’s Roman Catholic Church said Sunday.

Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, who took the office on Friday, has submitted his resignation, Poland’s Episcopate said in a statement.

The church said Pope Benedict XVI asked the outgoing archbishop, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, to administer the archdiocese until a replacement is found.

A furor had grown around Wielgus since the allegations were first raised Dec. 20 by a Polish weekly, with demands that he step down from his post.

The church in Poland, a heavily Roman Catholic country, enjoys high esteem for its opposition to the former Communist government. Catholics here revere the late Polish-born Pope John Paul II — credited by some with hastening the regime’s fall.

Growing intensity
The scandal gained intensity after church officials said Friday that documents at a historical institute indicated Wielgus had willingly collaborated.

Newspapers Friday devoted their front pages to the revelations, even as Wielgus took canonical vows as required by church law ahead of his installation.

“Stop the installation,” the daily Dziennik wrote in large bold print on its front page, arguing that to allow a “former agent” to hold a top church post would amount to a “moral scandal.”

Wielgus acknowledged Friday that he did have contact with the secret service, but he said that documents indicating he collaborated were written by the secret police and reflected their account of events, not the truth.

The allegations first surfaced in the right-wing Gazeta Polska weekly, two weeks after the Vatican appointed him archbishop of Warsaw. Wielgus initially denied any collaboration.

Wielgus, who had been bishop of Plock since 1999, said Friday that he was leaving his fate in the hands of the pope: “With full humility, I declare to the Holy Father that I will submit to each of his decisions.”

The Vatican had named Wielgus to replace Cardinal Jozef Glemp, who stepped down after more than 25 years as archbishop of Warsaw.