In recent days," the prelates begin their letter, which was also made public in Italian and English translations, "we have experienced dramatic events related to Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus of Warsaw resigning from office. ... With sadness, we have followed the accusations brought against him in recent weeks. ... We are grateful to the Holy Father Benedict XVI for his fatherly help in the difficult situation we face. Thanks to his resolve ... we are better prepared to live through this unusual time courageously and fruitfully."
The Polish bishops note that "not taking into account the widely accepted rule of the presumption of innocence helped to apply pressure to the accused archbishop, which did not make it easy for him to present public opinion with an appropriate defense, to which he is entitled."
Later in their letter, the bishops write: "We wish Ash Wednesday, February 21, to be a day of prayer and repentance for the entire Polish clergy. In all the churches in our dioceses services to the Merciful God should be celebrated for forgiveness of mistakes and weaknesses in the proclamation of the Gospel."
"We appeal to those in power and to members of parliament to ensure that materials found in the archives of the Popular Republic of Poland are used in such a way as not to encroach upon the rights of a human person and demean the dignity of man, and to ensure that such materials may be verified in an independent court of justice. Nor should it be forgotten that the documents incriminate their authors above all."
"We ask everyone to refrain from passing superficial and rash judgements, for they can be damaging. We mean especially those who work in the media. May Christian conscience and human sensibility suggest to them what should be presented to public opinion and how it should be done, always taking into account the dignity of the human person, and the right to defense and good name, even after one's death."
The Polish prelates conclude their letter: "We believe that our current experience will contribute to a renewal of the Church, to a greater transparency and maturity of her members. We believe that it will help the Church to be faithful to the Gospel
and look to it for solutions of our problems, to be reborn from it, in order to
be a leaven of good and love in the world."
Monday, January 15, 2007
More from the Polish Bishops...
Letter from Polish Bishops to the Faithful