Rorate Caeli

A Word from the Polish Bishops
to All the Faithful of the Church in Poland

This letter should be read in all parishes of the Church in Poland on Sunday, January 14, 2007.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. In recent days we have experienced dramatic events, related to the resignation from office of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, on the day designated for his solemn installation in Warsaw Cathedral. We have painfully followed the accusations brought against him in the last weeks, concerning his entanglement in the collaboration with the secret service (SB) and the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) intelligence. This has caused a wave of unrest and even distrust towards the new minister. Divisions in the community of believers became apparent. We are grateful to the Holy Father, Benedict XVI for his fatherly help in the evangelical standing up to the difficult situation which we face. Thanks to his decision and attitude we are better prepared to live through this unusual time courageously and fruitfully. We also thank Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, the Papal Nuncio in Poland, for his brotherly and competent help.

On January 5, 2007, in an appeal directed to the community of Warsaw Church, Archbishop Wielgus confirmed the fact of the above mentioned entanglement and admitted having harmed Church through it, as well as – in the face of a media campaign – having done damage to the Church by denying the facts of collaboration with the secret service.

We accept with respect his decision of resignation from the ministry of Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw. It is not up to us to judge a man, a brother, who has served the Church in a faithful and zealous way, including his time as a professor and Rector [President] of the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) and then as the Bishop of Plock. We want to support the Archbishop with our prayer in the full clarification of the truth. At the same time we regret to state that not taking into account the widely accepted rule of the presumption of innocence contributed to create an atmosphere of pressure around the accused Archbishop, which did not make it easy for him to present the public opinion with an appropriate defence, to which he was entitled.

2. We state once again that a gloomy past from the period of a totalitarian system dominating our country for decades continues to mark its presence. As we have written in the Polish Episcopate Memorandum Concerning The Collaboration of Some Clergy with The Secret Service in Poland in The Years 1944-1989, “The records kept in the IPN [National Remembrance Institute] archives uncover a part of the vast areas of enslaving and neutralizing the Polish society by the security services of a totalitarian state. They are not, however, a full and exclusive record of past times.” Only a critical and solid analysis of all the available sources can allow us to approach the truth. One-sided reading of documents created by officers of the repressive apparatus of a communist state, hostile towards the Church, can seriously harm people, destroy the links of social trust, and, as a consequence, prove to be a posthumous victory of an inhuman system, in which we were fated to live.

The Memorandum also states that “The Church is being accused of the intention of hiding a truth difficult for Her, of an attempt at protecting the people responsible for collaboration with the secret service and forgetting the victims of this collaboration. As a consequence, the authority of the Church is being undermined, its credibility is being weakened. All too easily it is being forgotten that in the times of communist totalitarianism the whole Church in Poland constantly stood against the enslavement of the society and was an oasis of freedom and truth.”

3. Therefore we repeat once more: the Church is not afraid of the truth, even if this is a hard, shameful, truth and approaching this truth is sometimes very painful. We deeply believe that the truth liberates, because Jesus Christ himself is the liberating truth. The Church has been struggling with sin inside herself and in the world, to which it is sent, for two thousand years. Sin degrades man and distorts the image and similitude of God in him. The Church does not carry this through under her own power. It does it under the power of the One, who as the only one can make us free from evil. Therefore we begin every Eucharist with a confession of our sinfulness: “I confess to Almighty God…” This is not a void liturgical formula, but a deep confrontation with our weakness and faithlessness before the face of the merciful God. Similarly, we ask in every Eucharist: “Lord Jesus Christ … look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church.” We are not afraid to confess that the Church is a community of sinners, but at the same time she is holy and called to holiness, since Jesus Christ is her Head, living and working in her – the Saint above all saints. It is before Him that we stand, asking the Holy Ghost to deliver us from evil, fear and our small-mindedness.

Last Sunday, during the Lord’s Baptism feast, in Warsaw Cathedral, we read the Gospel about Jesus who joined the sinners, standing on the bank of Jordan to receive the baptism of penance. We believe strongly that Jesus stands together with all of us on the banks of the Polish Jordan. Once more the words of Jesus bring back our hope: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Lk 5:31-32, NRSV). Solidarity with sinful people led Jesus to the Cross. Thanks to this we have received His Baptism – the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire for the remission of sins.

4. Let us remind: “For two thousand years the Church has opposed the evil in the evangelical way, which does not destroy the dignity of another man. The truth about the sin should lead a Christian to a personal acknowledgment of guilt, to contrition, to a confession of the guilt – even a public confession, if need be, and then to repentance and satisfaction. We cannot abandon such an evangelical way of confronting evil. (…) The Church of Christ is a community of reconciliation, forgiveness, and mercy. Inside her there is a place for every sinner, who wishes to reform, as Peter did, and despite his weaknesses, wants to serve the cause of the Gospel” (Memorandum).

As the Servant of God John Paul II stated emphatically, “Man is the way of the Church” (Redemptor hominis, 14) – every man, including every priest and every bishop. Fulfilling the conditions of Christian conversion, everyone has the right to forgiveness and mercy, to join in the life of the Ecclesial community and society. We know that many of those, who once submitted to enslavement, deafened their conscience, and compromised their dignity, have already repented for their weakness with years of faithful service. They are our brothers and sisters in faith!

We wish Ash Wednesday, February 21, 2007, to be a day of prayer and repentance for the whole Polish clergy. In all the churches in our dioceses, services to the Merciful God should be celebrated for forgiveness of mistakes and weaknesses in proclaiming the integral Gospel. As clergy, we are “taken from the people”, we are a part of Polish society, which as a whole needs to turn away from evil and make a full conversion.

5. There is a great task of reconciliation for the Church in Poland, apart from standing in truth before the face of God. We will not change the past, both the glorious, and the one that we are ashamed of. We can include everything, with God’s help, in our present and future in such a way that the power of Christ on the face of the Church is revealed. We appeal to all the people of the Church, the clergy and the laity, to carry on the examination of their consciences concerning their conduct in a time of totalitarianism. We do not want to encroach on the sanctuary of any man’s conscience, but we encourage to do everything to confront the truth of possible facts and – if need be – to adequately admit and confess the guilt.

We appeal to the people in power and to Members of Parliament to ensure that the use of materials found in the archives dating back to PRL will not lead to encroaching on the rights of a human person and demeaning the dignity of man and that they will make it possible to verify these materials in an independent court of justice. It should also not be forgotten that these documents incriminate their authors above all.

Being aware of the call of Christ: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.” (Mt 7:1), we ask everyone to refrain from passing superficial and rash judgments, for they can be damaging. We mean especially those who work in the media. May Christian conscience and human sensibility suggest them what should be presented to the public opinion and how it should be done, always taking into account the dignity of a human person, the right to defence and good name, even after one’s death. We appeal to the young generation, lacking a direct experience of the era in which the older people happened to live, to make an effort to learn the hard and complex truth about the past times. Despite all the shadows, it is to the generations living in those times, including the generations of clergy and their uncompromising struggle with evil, that we owe our regaining of freedom after years of Marxist ideology and Soviet patterns of political and social life imposed on us.

The Church in Poland has always empathized with its people and shared their fate, especially in the gloomiest periods of our history. This fact cannot be changed by bringing into light, after many years, the weaknesses and unfaithfulness of some of her members, including the clergy. May the present time be a good time for all of us to cleanse ourselves and reconcile with each other, restore the violated justice and regain mutual trust and hope. May it be, above all, a time of prayer and deepening the faith in the presence of the Lord of History among the most complicated human issues.

Having trust in the power of the Gospel we want, as your Pastors, to continue the work, already underway, of fully checking the contents of records stored in the IPN, concerning ourselves and all the clergy.

6. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me” (Ps 23:4). May the word of the Psalmist accompany us in these days. We thank you, Brothers and Sisters, especially for the spirit of prayer, which calmed down the emotions, brought about a peace of heart and order of love. We thank you for your concern for the Church and standing by her in the moments of trial. 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.

Having all these desires in our hearts, we call for God’s blessing over everybody and for the intercession of Our Lady of Czestochowa, who always reminds us: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5).

Signed by:
Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops assembled for the Permanent Council, and Diocesan Bishops of the Polish Episcopate Conference.

Warsaw, January 12, 2007.

Official translation with minor corrections.


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  4. I am appalled that catholic bishops, from the land that gave us JPII, and after more than 10 years of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, these men could CONFESS that:

    ". . .We are not afraid to confess that "the Church is a community of sinners", but at the same time she is holy and called to holiness, since Jesus Christ is her Head, living and working in her – the Saint above all saints."


    This is not true, the Catholic Church is NOT a communion of sinners, but a COMMUNION OF SAINTS.

    As item 946 and subsequents, of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

    "946 After confessing "the holy catholic Church," the Apostles' Creed adds "the communion of saints." In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: "What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?"477 The communion of saints is the Church."


    And nr. 953 of the same catechism further explains:

    "953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself."487 "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."488 "Charity does not insist on its own way."489 In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion."


    Is the Church of Jesus Christ speaking through the words of the Polish Catholic Bishops?

    And the polish bishops failed to accept that the reason that the archbishopbric of Bishop Wielgus failed is because he continued to lie, after he was appointed new archbishop of Warsaw and after what he had denied turned out to be true.

  5. I substantially agee with Humboldt. I only add that whoever hoped that the elevation of Cardinal Ratzinger would improve the situation in the Church should now begin to reflect. For the Pope knew of this in time to stop it. One wonders just how deep the Communists penetrated the Polish Church. Indeed one wonders how many communists have penetrated the Church at large. But finally one wonders what effect this has on the validity of Catholic sacraments. The Russian Church split over this question and remains divided. I suspect that nothing will come from Rome pertaining to this last question or any others. The first impulse of these people is to cover up just as they are trying to do in this statement. May God unveil them and let us know who the true shepherds are!

  6. The statement says "community of sinners", not "communion of sinners" if that makes any difference.

    In any case, can you deny that every single member of the Church militant is a sinner? Does not the Church militant form a community? So is the Church not in that sense a community of sinners? I do not think that the statement means to say anything more than that.

  7. Anonymous10:45 AM

    San Berardo O. Min., misionario e martire in Marocco, 16 gennaio

  8. Prokios,

    the validity of the sacraments should not be questioned by YOU, to do so is scandalous. As St. Thomas has said the degree of intention required for validity is simply to do what the Church does, so even an atheist can baptise, and even a communist priest can confect the sacraments.

    God Bless

  9. Humboldt and Proklos,

    You guys are incorrigible. You insist on misreading all documents and on disrespecting Pope Benedict XVI. By the way, guys, patristic commentary has always stressed that the Church on earth IS a community of sinners, who are striving to enter the COMMUNION of SAINTS. See the difference?

    By the way, Proklos, if you have ever read any sacramental theology, not to mention St. Augustine, you would know that the validity of the sacrament is not affected by the minister, since the sacrament comes from God. You sound like a Donatist.

    It's time to moderate your comments and show some respect to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, who, the "santo subito" followers of John Paul notwithstanding, WILL BE THE SAINT. We had a pope who reigned for 25 years. A lot of things were covered up during this time. His successor, unfortunately, is reaping the whirlwind. You should pray for him, not disrespect him.

  10. By the way everyone,

    I hear that Cardinal Re is on his way out. When the word comes down, I'll bring the party hats and noisemakers.

  11. Ugh, Donatists!

    Anyway, assuming the translation is substantially correct a few things bother me:

    "because Jesus Christ himself is a liberating truth."

    Only "a" liberating truth? Did this begin "the" and someone changed it to "a", or was it always "a" and in either case how did this pass muster?


    I cannot see any "apology" directed to the One whose rights and "dignity" are offended by sin.

    One might say this is implied... quite.


    There *is* an awful lot about the rights and (inherent)dignity of man...


    "we begin every Eucharist with a confession of our sinfulness: “I confess to Almighty God…” This is not a void liturgical formula, but a deep confrontation"

    I am sorry, I must dissent: this is *not* a "DEEP confrontation", that takes place (de minimis) prior to and in the sacrament as moved by God. Perhaps it is different in Poland, but in the US it seems this is not a "deep" confrontation, but actually serves to avoid one (these days).


    "The truth about the sin should lead a Christian to a personal acknowledgment of guilt, to contrition, to a confession of the guilt – even a public confession, if need be, and then to repentance and satisfaction."

    So...what *is* the truth about sin then? To whom is the offense directed? Whose honour and dignity are attacked?

    Teaching moment lost.


    It goes on...


    If a man begins formation to the priesthood, as an enemy of the Church, with the express purpose of NOT accepting Holy Orders and has his fingers crossed (internally) the entire time, even during imposition, what then? Are his orders valid? He has no intention of doing what the Church does and has no intention of being a priest. His entire purpose is to provide the mere appearance of offering valid sacraments (baptism aside).

    I may be asking the question badly.


    Janice, whatever you saw, keep watching. I know he had a private meeting with the Holy Father, do you have more than that?

  12. Willian, there a lot of saintly people in the Catholic Church. As for the difference between "community" and "communion", there is a lot of people that have had their minds distorted by reading too much theology. Theology is innecesary for salvation. The New Testament is enough. As for me, I will, within my humble means, confront head on all those people who have turned the Catholic Church into a prostitute.

  13. Janice, I cannot remember the last time that a Cardinal was removed from the Roman Curia. Besides Cardinal Re is going to be heading the V meeting of CELAM in Mexico in a few months. Do you think that the Pope is going to throw the Church into disarray, months before such an important event in the life of the Church? I'd bet againt it?

    If this happen

  14. Humbolt:

    that's funny!

    Last time I checked, the New Testament is neither necessary nor sufficient for salvation.

    So you dimiss out of hand, "theology", that is, the science of (about) God through reasoned discourse?

    How are you going to understand scripture without a teacher? How are you going to come to a knowledge of the things of God without a teacher? Don't say the Holy Sprit will be my guide because He resisteth the proud, viz the heterical sects.

    So long, farwell, auf weidersehen goodbye... dogmatic theology, adieu moral theology, see ya later's just me, myself and my King James bible.

  15. Simon-Peter,

    You're depending on a translation. I wonder if Jesus Christ is "a" or "the" liberating Truth myself.

    Sacraments are eternally-instituted by Christ. The disposition of the minister does not affect their efficacy for the one who receives them. Go back to the Donatist heresy (whether in Cyprian's time or in Augustine's). In that time, even the Donatist clergy offered valid sacraments in Augustine's view.


    Cardinal Re is irrelevant for the CELAM meeting. He's just one more hanger-on. Whether Cardinal Re is around or not, it will not throw the Church into disarry; on the contrary, it will bring order to the selection and approval process for bishops. And the Pope can expedite his removal by ordering him to "resign." You know how it goes.

    As to your contention that theology is unncessary for salvation, let me point out a few things:

    1) Your contention that the NT is enough amounts to "sola scriptura." This is Protestant. There is also Church Tradition, which is also determinative.

    2) Both the OT and the NT ARE theology, i.e., they are reflections on the actions of God in human history. Unlike Islam, which regards its writings as given directly from God to humanity, the Church (as with Judaism) regards its Scriptures as given from God VIA humanity. Therefore, there is human reflection in the Scriptures. Cf. the Gospel of John, chapter 1, where there is the realization of who Jesus is and what is his relationship with God and humanity.

    3) The Church is not a prostitute. This label recalls the old Protestant slurs of the Roman Church as the "whore of Babylon." The Church on earth is constituted by human beings who are sinners. Some sin more than others. Some in high positions betray the Church. Others, who get no notice, live in fidelity to the Gospel. As St. Augustine said, the Church is a corpus permixtum and we shall not know the composition of the holy until the final judgment.

  16. Simon-Peter,

    CWN reports that the Holy Father had ANOTHER audience with Cardinal Re today (Monday, January 15). Was that the one you referred to? Because he had a regular audience with him on Saturday, so this one must be something special. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? There aren't any details, however.

  17. Janice, isn't this different from Donatism. I am talking about a man whose orders are invalid ab initio because HE had no intent to accept, not that he later fell away into heresy / schism / apostasy. I understand that generally speaking the sacraments operate under their own power and are effective, SO LONG AS & to the extent man does not offer an obstacle. I am asking, when it comes to Holy Orders a man is able to posit an absolute obstacle so that he has NO indelible mark on his soul. Though this would not affect baptism, wouldn't this affect the other sacraments?


    you seem to have been swerving precipitously close to SV in recent weeks, now you are starting to use the language of the heretical sects.

    You cannot possibly mean the Church qua Church is a prostitute, some whore of Babylon.

    I don't think English is your first language (it is hardly mine):

    You wrote:

    "turned the Catholic Church into a prostitute."

    You don't qualify "turned" as in "humans have *tried* to turn" etc. Whatever you meant to say, the meaning of what you did say is the Catholic Church *is* (now) a prostitute.

    Perhaps you and your King James can purify the Church of her papist idolatries, taking her back into the purity and simplicity of the early days before the Church fell away within 5 minutes of Jesus ascending to His Father.

    You didn't mean that either, did you?

  18. Right, he had one on Saturday which *was* in the Daily Bulletin from the Holy See Press Office. I can't find anything *today* in the VIS or Daily Bulletin.

    If this *is* unscheduled, then Cardinal Re has agreed to take up his place as nuncio to The South Sandwich Islands (look them up on a map) :-).

  19. Anonymous3:22 PM

    The Catholic Church is a hospital for sinners. I agree it's a bit misleading to say that it's a community of sinners.

  20. Christ, the Wounded King. Dedicated to the Faithful of Poland.

  21. To quote New Catholic in another post, but bears repeating:

    And then they ask you for money.

  22. Janice:

    Cardinal Re doing his job:

    This one is about 10 minutes long.

    The question is, if we are aware of this kind of thing, why isn't he?

    Or is he?

  23. Simon-Peter,

    Cardinal Re is known primarily for his machinations within the Vatican. He seems to spend his time working deals (I don't know on what, but they probably don't bear the light of day). I doubt if episcopal appointments are his first priority, except as they fit into whatever plans he has to gather more power within the Vatican. He's known as one of Sodano's boys; I believe he's from the same region (Piedmont). He's not a scholar, not a theologian, doesn't seem to be a particularly holy man. I wish Pope Benedict would just take off the gloves, hit him right in the face, and then fire him.

  24. Or was Sodano his man?

    Anyway, no one is responsible...

    and they really DO keep asking us for money.

    Did you enjoy the hallowwen mass where the woman, dressed like a demon, "distributes" Holy Communion?

  25. This would be funny except:

    a. its not, and
    b. someone in CA is actually thinking its a good idea.

  26. Rather than applauding at the - too late - good decision made by the Polish bishops, we got these totally insane posts from humboldt:
    - no humbold the Church is not an exclusive club for certified blessed and saints : this is extreme cultic protestant view ; are you a certified saint yourself ? Gosh use 10 seconds to think about before typing.
    - naturally the Polish bishops proclaim the belief of the communion of saints : it has nothing to do with the point debated.
    - NO the New Testament is not "enough" : that is not even Protestant because they take nearly the whole Bible.
    How is it possible a traditionalist to discard Tradition ???

    As for cardinal Re, he is a sort of "Montinian integrist", he is from Brescia like Montini. Indeed he isn't a "Sodano man" but as it was said Sodano was his. He was the former secretary for relationship with States, so n°2 of the secretariate of State, before being appointed successor of cardinal Gantin in his present position.
    Cardinal Re feels committed to defend Paul VI heritage and so has been consistantly opposed to TLM : remember his letter of 1994 to Mr. de Saventhem, defining the indult as temporary to help trads getting used to the "richness" of ... NOM.
    Nobody can be more opposed to the Ratzinger's ideas on liturgy.

    Besides the nominations of bishops after the election of Benedict XVI have not improved and even are worse in many occasions than during the previous pontificate : can we consider the choice for San Francisco as a chance for the Church in America ? With 2 exceptions, it has been terrible in France and rather bad in Brazil, for the countries I know about.
    Not a single trad-oriented cardinal has been named last year by the way.
    What can we say about calling cardinal Hummes at a key function in Rome ?

    So the Wielgus nomination is just one more mistake on a growing list. Alas.
    This is not a reason for humboldt to go wild and challenge the tenets of the Catholic doctrine : please.