Say what? A Polish spy in the Vatican?

pope stamp.jpgI was flipping through the back pages of the news section of my local newspaper this weekend and this Associated Press story stopped me in my tracks.

It didn’t surprise me that Polish authorities had worked overtime to try to stop the newly enthroned Pope John Paul II from making an early return to his beloved homeland. It would have shocked me if they had cooperated.

But then I hit this element of the story, based on a report from Leon Kieres, head of Poland’s National Remembrance Institute:

On Wednesday, Kieres identified a Polish priest working at the Vatican, the Rev. Konrad Stanislaw Hejmo, who he said had collaborated with communist-era secret police during John Paul’s papacy. Hejmo has said he never knowingly informed on the church.

Kieres denied in the La Repubblica interview that his claim of alleged informers within the Roman Catholic Church was politically motivated. Kieres also told the paper that hundreds of clergymen collaborated with the communist regime in Poland as part of a network of informers in operation for several decades.

Once again, it isn’t all that surprising that there were undercover informers in Poland. Still, that is a major story. What rocked me was the news of the informer inside the Vatican.

Heading to Google News, I found that international newspapers have been all over this story, while American papers have either ignored it or downplayed it big time. The experts say Americans don’t care about global news, and I assume that is true. But I think this is a story people would have wanted to read.

Nice headline (yes, all in caps) in the Agenzia Giornalistica Italia: “HEJMO: NAIVE AND STUPID, BUT I’M NOT A SPY.”

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.


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