Warsaw archbishop resigns over secret police connection

The newly appointed archbishop of Warsaw resigned on Sunday after admitting he had co-operated with Poland's communist-era secret police.

The newly appointed archbishop of Warsaw resigned on Sunday, less than an hour before his scheduled installation,after admitting he had co-operated with Poland'scommunist-era secret police.

Stanislaw Wielgus announced his decision atWarsaw's St. John's Cathedral, packed with worshippers gathered for a mass that was to have marked his formal installation. The congregation included President Lech Kaczynski.

Thoughsome in the congregation, including Kaczynski,applaudedthe announcement,others shoutedthat Wielgus was welcome tostay.

Stanislaw Wielgus admitted he had informed against fellow clerics. ((Czarek Sokolowski/Associated Press))
In his resignation letterto Pope Benedict XVI, he said his past actions had "gravely compromised his authority" in the Roman Catholic homeland of the late Pope John Paul II.

The admissionthat he collaborated with the former communist regime, which ended in 1989,is a major embarrassment for the Vatican and the powerful Polish Catholic Church.

His resignation reportedly came at therequest of Pope Benedict, who appointed him just a month ago.

Wielgus, 67,is believed to have informed on fellow clerics for around 20 years, from the late 1960s, according to allegations raised in a Dec. 20 article by the weekly Gazeta Polska newspaper.

He initiallydeniedany collaboration, but the scandal widened when church officials on Friday saidthat documents at a historical institute showed Wielgus had willingly co-operated with the secret services, and the Polish media intensified calls for his resignation.

Wielgus hassince issued statementsacknowledging that hesigned an agreement in 1978 promising to co-operate with the security force in exchange for permission to leave Poland to study in West Germany.

However, hestressed that he did not inform on anyone or try to hurt anyone, and he expressed remorse for both his contacts with the secret police and his failure to be forthcoming from the beginning.

With files from the Associated Press