Poland: on having no fear of truth
George Weigel, who is a regular visitor to Poland as well as a perceptive commentator on Catholic affairs, hits nails on heads in a Newsweek reflection on the Wielgus affair. Weigel argues that a thorough, systematic investigation of Communist-era records would reflect credit on the Catholic Church. Yes, some clerics were compromised by the regime. But some people in all walks of life were compromised; it wasn't easy to keep clear of a prying, intrusive government. What's remarkable is that most clerics managed to do exactly that. As Weigel puts it:
When all is said and done, it may be that some 10 percent of Poland’s clergy were suborned by the SB, in varying degrees of complicity (and turpitude). But that is itself a compliment to the Polish church, when one considers that estimates of collaboration with the East German secret police, the Stasi, approach 50 percent of the entire population of the old German Democratic Republic.
Shining light on the archives, then, would accomplish two things: The miscreants would be identified, while the stalwart majority would be cleared of suspicions.
Yet within the Polish hierarchy there is strong opposition to such a thorough investigation fo the past. As long as that opposition continues, the innocent majority will remain under suspicion, while the guilty minority may escape detection.
It makes no sense. The logic is perverse. But to American readers it should all sound painfully familiar.
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Posted by: -
Jan. 10, 2007 8:31 AM ET USA
I never lived under Communism, so I don't feel I could make a judgment on the actions of those who did. Actually, I wonder if I could have withstood what those people and their priests had to endure. God forgive us all.
Posted by: Fr. William -
Jan. 09, 2007 4:29 PM ET USA
Thanks, Diogenes & George Weigel, for helping put this into perspective, encouraging us to pray for the good, holy priests & bishops (90 percent of the clergy)... & for the miscreants' conversion. Also, "altar boy" & "Charles" make some good points to contemplate: bps. protecting themselves at all costs; misapplications of Vatican II; Bishops' Conferences run wild; nepotism run wild (bps. promoting their classmates; the N. American College velvet underground)... Pray for Pope Benedict XVI.
Posted by: -
Jan. 09, 2007 3:18 PM ET USA
What I find troubling in this story is its clue to the widespread existence of a cadre of corrupt bishops in the hierarchy. Just as many have spoken of the "homosexual subculture" among U.S. clerical ranks, it appears that there exists a subculture of episcopal corruption in the Americas, in Europe and in Asia. If that is so, then the post-VCII ascent to prominence of the bishops’ conferences, and the corresponding decline in the power of the papacy, may have been the catalyst.
Posted by: Charles134 -
Jan. 09, 2007 12:07 PM ET USA
Just one quibble: "It makes no sense." I read this a lot about the policy decisions of our betters. It is true to say, "Assuming the goal is X (where X=the salvation of souls or some related good), Policy A makes no sense." Ah, but what if it is not the case that the goal is X (or, worse, what if the goal is ~X)? Suddenly, these troubling policies make all the sense in the world. Do our betters have no spines and no sense? I think the reality is a lot scarier.
Posted by: opraem -
Jan. 09, 2007 10:08 AM ET USA
deja vu all over again! as long as the polish bishops refuse to clean their own house, the bad news will kill them and their credibility by 1,000 cuts. you would think the vatican would have learned from the us bishops' record of paying for, promoting and protecting sexual predators? most people will forgive the gravest organizational sins, if the guilty are seen to be punished. popular culture equates the cover-up with the crimes. pray for B16.