Poland Asks Forgiveness for Its Priests

Bishops Led Prayer on Ash Wednesday

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WARSAW, Poland, FEB. 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- In a common petition, Polish Catholics prayed on Ash Wednesday for all clergy, and in particular those who had collaborated with the Communist regime.



In an extraordinary meeting of the Polish episcopal conference in January, the bishops designated Wednesday as the day of prayer.

The meeting was called after Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus resigned Jan. 7, the day he would have been installed as head of the Warsaw Archdiocese, after admitting that he collaborated with Communist secret service.

The bishops also decided to submit themselves to a voluntary examination of their past.

Cardinal Jozef Glemp, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Warsaw, warned in a homily in St. John's Cathedral, that "there is among us too much feeling of enmity and too little feeling of forgiveness."

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, said the current work to verify collaborationism that is being carried out in many sectors of society "to arouse suspicions and cause divisions is the 'post mortem' victory of the Communist system."

Auxiliary Bishop Piotr Libera of Katowice, said that Ash Wednesday's day of prayer and penance was lived as "an examination of conscience made in public, with great humility and sense of responsibility."

The bishop, who is also the secretary of the Polish episcopal conference, told the Italian newspaper Avvenire: "We turned to divine mercy asking for forgiveness for our errors and weaknesses in the transmission of the Gospel.

"In particular, we asked for forgiveness for those ecclesiastics who in the past collaborated with an atheist and Communist regime."