07 January, 2007

"They stoned the bishop!"

The new Catholic archbishop of Warsaw is also the new former Catholic bishop of Warsaw, thanks to a general uproar that followed his election. The uproar followed a revelation that the bishop, as a young priest, had signed an agreement to share information with the secret police back when Poland was a Communist state. The purpose of the agreement was apparently to obtain permission from the government to travel to Germany, where he would pursue some studies.

By no means were all the Poles against him. The Washington Post reports that one elderly woman protested, "They stoned the bishop!" This strikes me as a keen observation, assuming that she referred to the story in the Gospel of John of the woman caught in adultery. There does appear to be a Donatist flavor to this harsh reaction.

If I were one of those who had been harassed, persecuted, or lost a loved one to the depredations of Communist Poland's secret police, I would no doubt feel as if old wounds had been re-opened. Imagine, by analogy, if a Catholic priest who had co-operated with terrorists today were elected archbishop of Washington, DC twenty or thirty years hence.

If the man were unrepentant, I might remain steadfast in my resistance. Nevertheless, Christianity is supposed to be about repentance and forgiveness. So questions remain in my mind. Why could the Polish Church not stage a public repentance? Would this not have satisfied his accusers?

No comments: