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Warsaw's New Archbishop Resigns Amid Communist-Era Spying Scandal


The newly appointed archbishop of Warsaw resigned Sunday after he admitted to having spied for Poland's communist-era secret services. The Vatican has asked outgoing archbishop, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, to remain in his place for the time being. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.

Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus was to have been installed at a ceremony in Warsaw Sunday morning. But first the Vatican said there would be no such ceremony. A thanksgiving ceremony for outgoing Cardinal Jozef Glemp was to be held instead.

Less than an hour later, the Vatican issued a statement announcing that Wielgus would not take up his new appointment. The statement added that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted his resignation.

Wielgus announced he was stepping down in Warsaw Cathedral. Some of the faithful present in the church complained and called out to him to stay in his place.

The decision by the new archbishop follows a spy scandal. After Pope Benedict appointed Wielgus December 6 to replace retiring Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Wielgus admitted to having had contacts with the secret police for Poland's former communist regime.

Wielgus is believed to have informed on fellow clerics for around 20 years from the late 1960s. He initially denied such collaboration. But the scandal widened when church officials Friday said that documents at a historical institute showed Wielgus had willingly cooperated.

As Polish media intensified calls for his resignation, Wielgus stressed that he did not inform on anyone or try to hurt anyone and expressed remorse for his actions.

The Vatican said in its statement Sunday that following Wielgus' resignation the pope has asked the 77-year-old outgoing archbishop, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, to administer the archdiocese until a replacement is found.