14 April 2016, The Tablet

Vatican tells disgraced archbishop to stay away from Polish celebrations

Nuncio warns Paetz that he is not welcome at two-day event to commemorate 1,050 years of Christianity in Poland

Polish bishops have moved swiftly to block plans by disgraced Archbishop Juliusz Paetz to take part in celebrations to commemorate the anniversary of Poland's baptism.

The archbishop was forced to resign in 2002 amid accusations that he repeatedly abused a number of Catholic seminarians, but has continued to live in Poznan curia and has participated in church events.

The Polish bishops' conference released a letter from the Vatican warning the former archbishop off attending public events linked to the celebrations of Poland's conversion to Christianity after Paetz told local media that he saw "no reason" why he couldn't take part. 

"The Holy Father decisively reiterates his invitation for you to live a life of privacy in repentance and prayer," wrote Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's Warsaw-based nuncio in the missive.

"Media news about your participation in official celebrations of the anniversary of Poland's baptism has created a new situation of unnecessary and harmful commotion for the church in Poland and the Holy See. It blatantly contradicts the instructions given you," he added.

The celebrations in Poznan today and tomorrow (Friday 15 April) will be attended by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.

Meanwhile, the bishops' conference press office said the archbishop had also been warned by the Vatican in 2013 to "refrain from participating in public celebrations," adding that it was "hard to imagine" he would again ignore the order during the pope's July 27-31 visit to Poland for World Youth Day in Krakow.

St John Paul II accepted Paetz's resignation in 2002 after the archbishop was accused of repeatedly abusing seminarians. However, he continued living at the Poznan curia and participating in church events, including the consecration of bishops, as well as attending audiences with the pope in Rome, where he worked, 1967-1982.

In 2006, he was shown on Polish TV greeting Pope Benedict XVI during the now-retired Pope's visit, while in 2009 a telegram from the Pope was published at Archbishop Paetz's request in a Catholic weekly, congratulating him on his "fruitful service" and "saving work for the good of the church".

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, confirmed in June 2010 that the archbishop's "rehabilitation was without foundation", adding that removing a 2002 ban on administering sacraments in his former diocese would depend on Poznan's current archbishop, Stanislaw Gadecki, who is also president of the Polish bishops' conference.

Celebrations of the 1,050th anniversary of Poland's Christian conversion under King Mieszko I in 966 are to include Masses and vigils, as well as a commemorative Poznan session of the Polish parliament.



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