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 By: Praxedis Bouwman – 20.04.2009

[Poland] Polish synod shortens the term of office of main bishop Jagucki

Main bishop Janusz Jaguckis term of office was shortened by the synod of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland during its meeting 17-18th of April. Reason for this intervention are charges of collaboration with the Polish secret police (SB-Sluzba Bezpieczeństwa) during the communist time in Poland. Jaguckis successor will be elected next autumn. Jagucki himself will keep his position until the new bishop will take office as from January 2010.

An internal church committee, the so called historical commission, did research of the role of clerical people in times of the communist regime in Poland. At the beginning the commission was chaired by Jagucki, when documents were found reporting his role during the time of the totalitarian regime, the second senior bishop Cieślar took over the chair of the commission. Only half a year ago, when at first the outcome of the research was leaking into the public, Jagucki stated that all charges against him were dropped. But at that time the report was not finished.

In the preamble towards the synod of last weekend, journalists of national Polish newspapers got hold of copies of the 1000 pages report in which 700 pages are dealing with documents in which the bishop is referred to as Janusz. Extracted from those copies it became clear that Jagucki was very active and had for example given very private information of fellow priests and his parish members to the secret police. Next to that there was found proof in the material that he had tried to arrange a meeting between his brother, the retired British bishop Walter Jagucki, and the secret police in order to get his brother involved as well. The brother refused and left the country.

During the synod meeting in Warsaw, the chair of the historical commission, bishop Cieślar, confirmed the commission found documents as proof of collaboration by Jagucki. He stated that the historical commission had come to the conclusion the activities of Jagucki had been harmful for the Church during that period.

According to Polish law, people can be collaboration in two ways: without their knowledge or with full approval. Jagucki himself stated in his case it was without knowledge and he was sorry about it. But according to the found documents the suspicion of the second way is strong. Jagucki himself asked the synod to vote for the trust in him. 27 members votes for trust, 31 against, 7 abstained. Church rules prescribe a vote of 50% plus 1 is necessary to dismiss a bishop immediately. As Jagucki refused to resign, the now given solution was decided on.

The Roman Catholic church in Poland has gone to a similar process, but broke it off all at a sudden. Public opinion in the country, 20 years after the fall of the iron curtain, is that the Lutherans did well by persisting of the research and discussing the outcome in the synod. The Lutheran Church of Poland is the first one in which the work of research was brought to an end, this process can serve as an example for others.

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