Friday, January 12, 2007

The Strange Case of Archbishop Wielgus

If you are a Church geek, like I am, you may be wondering about the very strange goings on in the Polish Church over these past few weeks, which resulted in the resignation of the Holy Father's choice to succeed Josef Cardinal Glemp as archbishop of Warsaw, a mere forty hours after canonically taking possession of the Diocese of Warsaw. The photo below is a picture of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, archbishop emeritus of Warsaw, after what has to be the shortest reign ever, in St. John's Cathedral at what was to be his installation Mass, not sitting in the cathedra, or bishop's chair.

Apparently the Holy Father is, understandably, not very happy about the way things happened, both in Poland and at the Vatican to the extent that it seems there will be some repercussions. Wielgus announced his resignation at the Mass which was to be his installation Mass. To make a local comparison, it would be tantamount to our new bishop announcing at his installation Mass in March that he was resigning to a congregation expecting to see him installed. Wielgus resigned because Pope Benedict XVI told him to do so, despite it putting the Pontiff in an embarrassing light, which only goes to show the extent to which he is committed to doing the right thing.

For the real story on such matters, I refer you to two sources, both of whom are Italians, one lives in Rome and one in Philadelphia. So, for you like-minded Church geeks, check out Sandro Magister's The Wielgus Case: The Reasons for His Resignation and The Tablet's man in the U.S., not to mention a bright, shining star in the galaxy of the Catholic blogosphere, Rocco's Wielgusopoli, which contains a long extract from Robert Mickens' column from Rome. There is much to be gleaned from reading about these strange events, not least among which is that it shows both the humanity and the institutional strength of the Church. Stand-by for more allegations and denials among the Polish clergy and episcopacy. I was happy to hear this afternoon that the Polish bishops have set up a commission to review the activities of all 45 current bishops during the Communist era. Let us pray, as Pope Benedict did on his visit to Karol Wojtyla's homeland earlier this year, as he knelt before the tomb of the late Polish Primate Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski and pointing him out as a model for all.

In the words of Sandro Magister, the Holy Father "asked of the bishops, priests, and faithful . . .
– 'humble sincerity' in admitting the errors of the past;

– magnanimity in judging the faults committed 'in other times and other circumstances';

– pride for all the many good achievements of those years, in resisting a form of totalitarianism that 'generated hypocrisy.'"

Let us all pray that the model Church of Poland can do what our common faith requires of us, especially when it is difficult, forgive and be reconciled.


  1. Hello Scott,

    It is amazing that so many people still fail to understand the Machiavellian nature of the Vatican and Christian leaders throughout history. The Prince was inspired by Machiavelli's years working in the Vatican for the Borgia clan. Just as we have seen with the recent spate of revelations regarding the American religious right and the Republican party, religious and secular leadership have always conspired against the populations they jointly manipulate to gain wealth and power.

    Whether we look at Communism, Fascism, Democracies, or Monarchies, the leaders of most religions, but most especially the faiths of Abraham, are always in bed with those in power. While pretending to help those they preach to, these scoundrels are regularly involved in blatant deception and duplicity. Playing both sides of major conflicts and social schisms is how the Vatican and its cohorts have divided populations and governments throughout history.

    The time is long past for those who still support these cabals of liars to get a clue about the true nature of the Vatican and religion in general. These people have never been trustworthy and little has changed throughout history.

    Here is Wisdom...

  2. I can refute this inaccurate, ahistorical, gross generalization and distortion of history quite easily. First, you won't find Machiavelli as an inspiration for even terrible Christian leaders. Yes, there have been, continue to be, and will be until the end of time human failures on the part of Church leaders and on the part of individual Christians. To borrow a slogan, we're not perfect, just forgiven. This causes us to withhold judgment and to "forgive those who have trespassed against us". In other words, we see humanity as fallen and weak, which is why we require a Savior, who perfects us through the Sacraments.

    Besides, there are many courageous Christian leaders who have brought about much good. In fact, we celebrate one this very weekend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His message is inseperable from his faith in Christ. As we all know, Dr. King had some distressing personal weaknesses. You know what? So do I. Of course, many of Dr. King's personal weaknesses have been made public and are undeniable. We hear audio recordings from FBI-planted bugs in hotel rooms in which Dr. King is drunk, sexually cavorting with college coeds, etc. As a Christian I say, So what? Dr. King wasn't the Messiah, but he was a prophet and, despite his weaknesses, he accomplished much. I believe St. Paul wrote something about "earthen vessles" (2 Cor 4,5-7)

    One of the institutions in the South that supported the cause of civil rights in 1950s and 1960s, not in every, single case, but in most cases and places, was the Catholic Church. Is this to say that the Catholic Church in the U.S. was never racist and never complicit in any way for injustices black Americans endured for centuries, including slavery? No!

    Is it a recognition that what black Americans suffered was injustice and an attempt to repent, to turn around, to change and live in accord with what our faith in Christ calls to? Absolutely! God sends prophets to his own people to remind us of the covenant we enter into at our baptism. I see Dr. King as such a figure, sent to convict consciences of Christians first and foremost.

    In the case of Poland, I'd have to say that one Stefan Wyszynski, one Karol Wojtyla, one Lech Walesa, one Father Jerzy Popieluszko make up for a hundred of weak-willed Wielgus', just as in Nazi Germany one Maximilian Kolbe, one Deitrich Bonhoeffer, and one Cardinal Faulhaber made up for many other weak-willed or collaborative Christians.

    In other words, in an effort to appear fair-handed and rational, you have, once again, only demonstrated your own unjustified prejudices, against Christians in general and Catholics in particular. Mostly your sweeping, inaccurate view of history serves only to demonstarte your ignorance. Of course, one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is instructing the ignorant.