Polish priest's spy claims criticised

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A Polish priest has defied his Church superiors by naming nine Catholic clerics among 37 people who he says spied on him for the communist-era secret police.

Fr Henryk Jankowski, who was a well-known supporter of the pro-democracy Solidarity union, is allowed as a so-called victim of the communist regime to study his security service file and publish the names of people who informed on him.

But leaders of the Polish Catholic Church have opposed the publication of former agents' names, saying the communist-era archives are full of false information.

"I am very, very sad doing this, but I am convinced that the truth has to come out," said Fr Jankowski. "I was shocked by what I have seen in these files, shocked by the number of agents in the church. To find out these names was very tragic for me."

Fr Jankowski's superior, Archbishop of Gdansk Tadeusz Goclowski, criticised him for not fully explaining why he had exposed the priests, many of whom are well known.

"He just read out the names, saying that they were in the files, but he did not give any reason why he did so," said Archbishop Goclowski. "He did not say why he decided to 'shoot' these people."

The Catholic Church has been rocked by revelations that several high-profile clergymen were communist spies, and claims by the institute that researches the secret police archives that as many as one in 10 priests were collaborators.

Several of the priests named by Fr Jankowski have dismissed the accusations, while historians said it was essential to add context to the claims.

"Names alone say nothing, and especially to those not familiar with the realities of given circles or a given city," said historian Marek Lasota.

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