[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007, 13:09 GMT
Profile: Stanislaw Wielgus
Stanislaw Wielgus
Archbishop Wielgus says he never informed on or hurt anyone
Stanislaw Wielgus, who has resigned in dramatic fashion minutes before his inauguration as Archbishop of Warsaw, has been dogged in recent weeks by allegations of his collaboration with Poland's communist-era secret police.

Bishop Wielgus became the focus of a furore over his past which has shocked and divided Polish public opinion since he was appointed archbishop by Pope Benedict XVI.

He has publicly admitted that he worked with the secret service, the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (SB), but denied that he was an informer and said he never hurt anyone.

He insisted he collaborated only in order to travel abroad and further his career.

However, his admissions have not been enough to prevent him from losing his post.

Fifty meetings

Stanislaw Wielgus was born in the village of Wierzchowiska near the city of Lublin, months before Poland was invaded and partitioned by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia at the start of World War II.

He was ordained as a priest in 1962, and it was as a philosophy student at Lublin's Catholic University that he was first approached by the SB five years later.

According to archive documents made public since the fall of communism, he worked with the SB for five years and "shared his personal views and opinions with the SB officer increasingly more freely".

In more than 50 meetings with agents he "identified candidates for operational talks from among the clergy and Roman Catholic academics", the documents say.

Now a professor at the university, he was granted a scholarship in Munich in 1973 and began working for Polish foreign intelligence.

The documents say the service tried to use him to infiltrate Radio Free Europe.

This happened in 1978, the year that the anti-communist Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla - who Wielgus has described as an inspiration since his youth - became Pope John Paul II.

Detailed file

The extent of Wielgus' collaboration in the remaining years of communism is unclear but he continued his successful academic and Church career.

He became rector of Lublin Catholic University in 1989 and was appointed Bishop of Plock in central Poland by the Pope 10 years later.

His secret service role was first revealed by the right-wing newspaper Gazeta Polska in December last year, after the Vatican announced his appointment as archbishop.

The paper later published the 68-page file detailing his intelligence work.

Pope Benedict XVI stood by the appointment, but the move divided public opinion and polls suggested a majority of Poles wanted him to resign.

Country profile: Poland
25 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific