Pasta Wielgus

I was out with friends tonight. A lot of the discussion concerned l’affaire Wielgus. We did a full review of all the various theories floating around, of course. Some of them are particularly amusing. I especially like the one about the German/Jewish anti-Polish conspiracy: yes, what a historically successful combination that has proven to be. We spoke at length about the Radio Maria dimension as well (Radio Maria in Poland has a highly political even anti-American and pro-Russian slant, btw.). And now it seems that Cardinal Glemp, of all people, has turned on the issue. sigh….

Ironically, wielgus means "long", btw.

In any event, a good share of the discussion concerned the classical Watergate questions of "what did the Pope know, and when did he know it".

Reasonable questions, in themselves. They are not, I think, at the heart of the matter.

From a patristiblogger viewpoint, and I think a reasonable viewpoint of anyone who knows anything serious about Papa Ratzinger, what is at the heart of the matter is the fact that this Pope is steeped in Augustinianism. It might be reasonable to think that, for Pope Benedict, this is an issue of modern Donatism. What we are hashing through is, once again, the whole conflict of traditores and reconciliation. The "collaborators" are in this case like the ancient North African clergy who caved in under imperial pressure and handed over their sacred texts and/or signed the necessary documents so that they could either simply live or avoid further persecution. After the persecutions ended many wanted to be reconciled in full and people divided sharply over whether or not a compromised cleric could even confer valid sacraments. (Sounds much like some modern SSPXers and Sedevacantists, no?) The solution to the result hideous schism in the fabric of the Church was eventually found, but not until Donatists were forced to rejoin the Catholics out of fear of punishment.

In the confusing tangle of Church and politics in Poland, and their still fresh long national nightmare, let us not forget that the Pope is also steeped in St. Augustine. Politics are not to be ignored, of course, but then neither are the theological dimensions of the question.

"But Father! But Father!" you are no doubt shouting at the screen. "What is this ‘Pasta Wielgus’ title all about??!? Is that what you ate tonight? REALLY?"

No, that is just a little clerical joke going around right now. The recipe for pasta Weilgus apparently calls for really short pasta, which you have to simmer for a long time, and eat as quickly as possible because you never know when it’ll be taken away from you. I think the sauce is red, but I am not sure.

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  1. Mike says:

    I find it impossible to believe that Radio Marya has any
    slant/lean/etc. towards anything Russian. Russia is the mortal
    enemy of Poland – has always been and will always be so.


  2. Londiniensis says:

    I am not sure whether the 4th century Donatists are really a valid parallel to “l’affaire Wielgus”. What was contested was not validity of sacraments or spiritual authority, but whether a man who made compromises, who according to the published evidence appeared to “go the extra mile” for the communist authorities – and who moreover had blustered and lied and not appeared to repent his actions until the proofs became overwhelming – had the necessary moral authority to take on the leading position in the Polish hierarchy, when the vast majority of his brother bishops and priests, and of the faithful, had taken the moral course all those years ago, with the almost inevitable detriment to their studies, careers and lifestyles.

    The fourth century traditors often feared for their lives. The Archbishop and others like did not want to be denied opportunities to travel and study abroad.

    I am saddened that Cardinal Glemp and others see in this an attack on the Church by ungodly media “enemies of the Church”. I pray that the cardinal looks across the Atlantic where the same attitudes – this is the Church’s business and no-one else’s, we will deal with it in our own way – fostered the hiding of unsavoury truths about the behaviour of some priests, with ultimately catastrophic effects.

  3. The greatest threat facing the Church in Poland is not the shadow
    of the memories of WWII (a blip in the long history of Polish
    oppression), its that the relativism crippling the rest of the EU
    will seep into Poland.

    But Father! But Father! No pictures of dinner? (Heavy sigh of
    dissapointment) ;-)

  4. Fr Ephraem says:

    These Polish compromisers seem not unlike those priests in the West who have compromised with Modernism, not out of conviction or indeed fear of their lives, but merely to advance their careers or to avoid embarrassment or the displeasure of their superiors. Peas in a pod. See the comments in the post below on why priests won’t face the right way at Mass. It’s the same mentality.

  5. Petellius says:

    In fact, Radio Maryja opposed Polish membership in both NATO and the EU (this being one of the items which have not gone over so well with the hierarchy), and suggested that closer ties to Russia might be better for Poland.

  6. Robert says:

    This whole affair and the consequent spotlight on a dark chapter in the history of the Polish church’s resistance to Communism reminds me of the novel The Fair Bride by Bruce Marshall, the protagonist of which is a priest who collaborates with the revolutionary regime during the Spanish civil war. *Spoiler ahead*–circumstances bring about a conversion, he redeems himself by becoming a sort of “double agent” for God at enormous risk to his own safety, and at the end of it all, when Franco restores order, the priest resumes his former position in the Church as though nothing had happened. Marshall said in the forward that his book would likely offend not only “progressives”, whom he lambastes in his portrait of the priest, but also “traditionalists” (read: clericalists–he was writing in the 50s) who would refuse to believe that any of Spain’s clergy could have acted in such a way. Marshall, however, insisted that his portrait was accurate and many clergymen had done exactly that. His novel is a wonderful portrayal of the radical nature of redemption. At the same time, Marshall does not make his redeemed protagonist an archbishop…! that post goes to one of the unimpeachably heroic resisters.

  7. “I think the sauce is red.” Thanks for making me laugh to the point ejecting coffee out my nose!

  8. Marcin says:

    Mike finds it impossible to believe that Radio Marya has any feeling towards anything Russian. I could not either. However it is the ONLY Polish broadcaster that got licence to broadcast in Russia. And it _is_ a staunchly Catholic organization. So much for Muscovite accusations of prozelytizing…

    “Russia is the mortal enemy of Poland – has always been and will always be so.” Well put! That is why I don’t like the smell of Radio Maryja’s Russian deal.

    I do not see a Donatist parallel in the Wielgusgate either (Russian Orthodox Church might be a closer case – the episcopate didn’t repent, though). No one was pressed to give up any books, vessels or worse, worship idols. If anything the communist regime wanted to harness the Church in Poland to eliminate any room for freedom of expression. I can tell that there would be bloody uprising and possible Soviet intervention if they ever tried to eliminate the Church.

    Save for relatively short period right after WWII, there was no real physical pesecution of the Church on a bigger scale. There was no Gulags, or corps ditches for priests and bishops as they were in Soviet Russia. It was rather a pressure, a VERY aggressive and annoying constant pressure, invigilations and prying in order to blackmail and subjugate rather than completely destroy the Church. After all she was and still is a prime institution of trust in Poland nad it would come very handy to use her not bury.
    Yes there were extreme cases (well known death of Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko from the hands of the secret police agents, and some other suspicious violent deaths of clergymen), there were beatings, like of Fr. Isakowicz-Zaleski.

    Many gave in just to get permission to build a church or simple get the passport to study abroad. In exchange they were simply ‘on the roll’, others were informants, and yet others were full fledge moles and spies.

    Most resisted (only estimated 10% collaborated). Those who resisted actively by being involved with the opposition were often beaten, their homes raided. One of them, Fr. Isakowicz-Zaleski, was (from what I can gather from scarse news and commentaries) publicly called by the retiring Primate an “uber-agent” just couple of days ago. Shame on you, Cardinal, shame on you!

  9. Heartland: I should put a disclaimer on the message, absolving myself of responsibility for any damage resulting to hardware.

  10. Londiniensis says:

    “Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” “The dog did nothing in the night-time.” “That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

    The Papal Nuncio in Poland, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, has some explaining to do. That Archbishop-emeritus Weilgus “smelt” was long known to those persons in émigré Polish circles who made it their business to know such things. If the Nuncio did not know, then he wasn’t doing his job properly. If he did know, and accepted Archbishop-emeritus Weilgus’ explanations at face value without doing the background checks that were open to him, then again he wasn’t doing his job properly. If he did know the full extent of the collaboration and he ignored it or covered it up or applied special pleading in his reports to Rome, then why?

    Remember, this is not some “hicks from the sticks” diocese. Archbishop-emeritus Weilgus would have been taking over from the Primate of Poland. George Weigel, in his Newsweek piece, makes the point that all Polish secret police files would almost certainly be duplicated in Moscow – and that therefore “the Catholic Church in Poland will be open to blackmail for the foreseeable future, if it does not take the lead in clarifying the truth about its past, with both its glories and failures”.

    The position that Cardinal Glemp is taking is both disappointing and dangerous. The press, and attendant politicians with their own agendas, are only doing what the Church is ostentatiously failing to do. If the surgeon’s knife is to be applied in Poland, and I believe it should be, then it is better that the Church wields it and is seen to be doing so.

  11. tim says:

    Can you please enlighten me? I’m confused. I don’t understand what this has to do with the motu proprio. What am I missing?

  12. Petellius says:

    I am a little unclear on the whole situation, since much of what is written about Radio Maryja (at least in English, and my Polish is very, very rusty) seems to be heavily biased in one or the other direction (though usually contra). But as far as I gather, they were not suggesting that Poland align with Russia as a wholly good step. Rather, the reasoning seems to have been more like: the EU (and NATO) are dangerous to Polish culture & society; if Poland doesn’t align with *some* power bloc, however, it will be left out in the cold, as it were. So if forced to choose, they opted for Russia as the least of possible evils. At least that’s how I understand it. Make of that what you will.

  13. Proklos says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf:

    I do not understand the phrase “Sounds much like some modern SSPXers and Sedevacantists, no?” Are you making an analogy between the SSPX and the Donatists? Please illumine us.
    In any case, the affair in Poland does raise important questions. We are not talking about moral corruption or even corruption in Catholic doctrine but about atheism. Can a priest or bishop who is in fact an atheist intend to do what the Church does in the Eucharist? The ancient controversies concerned people who believed in God. The communists are atheists. It is difficult to see how one could be in communion with the godless.

    Are you suggesting that an atheist can say a valid and licit mass in the same way that he can baptize? I have always had difficulty with the Church’s view on baptism. And did not St Augustine say that for those who are baptized by heretics it is like passing from darkness through a zone of light and then again into darkness? Then what about those who receive from communion from the hands of atheist bishops and the priests in communion with them. Even if one says that the mass is valid and licit, is there not some difficulty about the effects of the sacrament. For presumably the ministry of the eucharist does not end there. Communion is a sign of an entire spiritual life lived within the Church. But with atheists there is no life. They are spiritually speaking dead.

  14. Fr X says:

    I had a breakdown a few years ago, real deep depression, I felt I neither believed in God or anything. My Spiritual Director told me to say, publicly if possible, it was the only thing I did, a ritual, I certainly did not believe, for at least three months I was an atheist. I really do not think that I was less a priest or the sacraments were less during that period of my life than now.

  15. Fr X says:

    Sorry for misnaming you.

  16. Proklos says:

    Fr X:
    I was not speaking of a persons who like yourself have placed their souls in the care of Spiritual Director. The latter presumably is capable of discerning spirits. Certainly, satan cannot only cause dispair but exploit any physically based depression for his onw devilish ends. That is what ex opere operato protects us against and why the mass sacrament functions to heal as well as save. I am talking about priests who have in reality renounced the faith and become atheists, men who out of communist principles remain in the Church just in order to subvert her salvific ends. Before the liturgical changes the intention behind the mass seemed clear. But now the situation is less so. That compounded with the possibility that the priest performing the rite is a communist atheist with no intention to do what the Church does, how are we to know whether the mass sacrifice takes place?

    You had placed your soul in the hands of a spiritual director who presumably was a faithful priest. So whatever your psychological state acting upon obedience to him has to be different to someone who acts upon obedience to a communist party. You publicly intended what the Church intends simply through obedience to the Church’s ambassador if you will, certeris paribus this would seem to remove all doubt about intention. One still wonders about communists, however.

    A friend visiting Soviet Russia says she went to a “orthodox” Church under the Moscow patriarchate. When the priest would move around the church, as the orthodox do to incense the people, he would bow before each one and mutter in English: “If it can’t do you any harm, it can’t do you any good.” Intrigued she waited until after the service to meet the priest. She discovered that he was an Englishman who had been uncovered as a spy in the UK and had fled to the Soviet Union to escape prosecution. The KGB placed him in the Russian Church to continue his career in espionage. One wonders what the status of the eucharist would be in a church if situations like this became prevalent. Many Russians refused to visit the sacraments in churches under the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate. There was an underground church in Russia during that time and it continues to this day. As a matter of fact, many French people refused to assist at masses of priests who had sworn allegiance to the atheist French Revolutionary. Marie Antoinette, Queen of France also refused the ministrations of the priest before her martyrdom because he had sworn this oath to the godless French government.

    Henri duLubac in an article recorded the situation of priests in the Middle Ages who were illiterate and recited Aves and Paters instead of the the mass. But in such cases the priests were obviously believers. DuLubac wondered if these masses were invalid. That is the sort of question I wish to pose. How far does a priest have to go before the Church says he does not intend to do what the Church intends?

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