Friday, April 29, 2005

Priest says he is ‘naive, not a spy’

VATICAN CITY, April 29: The Polish priest accused of spying on the late Pope John Paul II says he may have been “an idiot or naive, but not a spy”, and that the accusations were part of a slander campaign to discredit the late pontiff. “I have never been a spy,” insisted Father Konrad Hejmo in an interview published by Italy’s La Repubblica Friday. “Call me an idiot, or naive, but not a spy.”

Father Hejmo said the accusations, which he expects will soon hit other Polish priests, “are an international operation aimed at smearing the memory of Pope Wojtyla,” John Paul II’s original name.

Poland’s centre investigating crimes committed by Nazi Germany and the country’s former communist regime said on Wednesday that father Hejmo was an informer for the Polish intelligence agency during the 1980s, after John Paul II was elected pope.

The Dominican priest said he knew that his reports on the papacy, written for the Polish bishops’ conference, were being used by his country’s secret services.

“I spoke about it to the Holy Father once,” Hejmo told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “We were having lunch with other priests and all of us said we had ‘guardian angels,’ meaning controllers working for the Polish government.

“Even the pope knew he was being spied on,” said the 69-year-old priest, who was in charge of bringing Polish pilgrims to the pope’s audiences.

Hejmo said his detractors had waited for John Paul II’s death on April 2 to make their accusations, because the pope would have “certainly” defended him.

The Vatican has so far kept silent about the accusations. But Rome’s Il Messaggero daily reported Friday that it was planning a statement underlining that Hejmo was not an employee of the Holy See and therefore did not have access to any confidential information.

Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, however, has asked the Polish bishops to make the statement, hoping to keep the scandal at arm’s length, Messaggero reported.

Hejmo acknowledged to La Repubblica having received money from a Polish man living in Germany, whom he suspects of forwarding his reports to the Polish intelligence agency.

“I came to Rome without money,” explained the priest. “There were good-hearted priests that gave me money.

“This agent also gave me money, but through the priests,” Hejmo was quoted as saying. —AFP

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Polish church surprised by communist spy scandal in Vatican
2005-04-28, 18:28
The Episcopate of Poland's Roman-Catholic church has issued a statement on the communist related spying scandal around Pope John Paul II.

It expresses surprise and sorrow over the facts, but at the same time underscores the importance of further and thorough study of the revealed case. A Polish Dominican working for Radio Vatican in the ‘Seventies and the main guardian of Polish pilgrims arriving in Rome with direct access to the late pontiff has been identified by the Institute of National Remembrance as an agent working for communist intelligence for almost two decades in the pope’s immediate circles and receiving gratification for his services.

Yesterday, Dominican was recalled back to Poland by his superiors, however he failed to arrive as expected. Instead, the order’s principal father Andrzej Zieba is to meet him in Rome. Dominican, on his part, said he feels disappointed with the manner in which the National Remembrance Institute has handled the case in revealing it to the media without prior contact with him. He admitted to passing information to a person whom he perceived as a representative of the German Episcopate at the time, being unaware of his true role.