Vatican Priest Is Called an Informer

Father Konrad Hejmo is accused of collaborating with the Polish secret police in the 1980s.

From Associated Press

April 28, 2005

WARSAW — A Polish priest at the Vatican was accused Wednesday of collaborating with the communist-era secret police during the 1980s as Pope John Paul II was inspiring his countrymen to resist the Soviet-backed government.

Father Konrad Stanislaw Hejmo acknowledged that he had shared reports he wrote for Polish church officials with an acquaintance, a Pole who lived in Germany, but said he had not suspected that the man might be a spy.

"I have never been a secret collaborator," Hejmo said in Rome. "I can blame myself for being naive. This man came, we helped…. I partly feel a victim."

The accusations originated with Leon Kieres, head of the National Remembrance Institute, which guards communist-era police files. At a news conference Wednesday, he said Hejmo furtively collaborated with the Polish secret services under the names Hejnal and Dominik.

Kieres did not provide details or documentary evidence, saying they would be published in May.

Information on Polish-born John Paul, elected pope in 1978, would have been of great interest to the secret police because of his role in inspiring the Solidarity trade union-led opposition to the communist government, which collapsed in 1989.

Hejmo, 69, was close to the pope's entourage but not a member of the inner circle. He was always present at John Paul's public events, acting as guide to Polish pilgrims and taking select groups to see the pope.

The priest told reporters outside his villa in an upscale section of Rome late Wednesday that he had been writing reports on church matters for Polish church officials and shared the information with an acquaintance who was introduced to him by other priests.

Hejmo said he had only just learned that the man, whom he did not name, might have been an intelligence agent. The man has since died, he said.

Hejmo's Dominican order superior, Father Maciej Zieba, told reporters at the news conference that he had seen the files, which he called "convincing and shocking."