Warsaw (ENI)--A senior Polish Roman Catholic priest who is a member of a tribunal considering sainthood for the late Pope John Paul II has been named in newspaper reports as a former communist secret police agent.
Michal Jagosz, the Rome-based chairperson of the tribunal's six-member historical team, was recruited before moving from Poland to take up a Vatican assignment in 1984, the Polish Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper stated on 4 October.
Jagosz has denied the allegation, saying in an interview with the newspaper that the claim was "completely at variance with the truth".
The newspaper reported that the priest had been exposed by a Polish fellow-cleric, Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, whose detailed study of the Polish church's communist-era infiltration is due to be released this month.
The tribunal considering John Paul's beatification and canonisation as a saint was inaugurated in June 2005, less than three months after the death of John Paul II. In the Roman Catholic Church, candidates for sainthood must first be beatified, or declared blessed.
"This is an unusually difficult situation, since John Paul II's beatification process is a matter for the whole church," Isakowicz-Zaleski told Rzeczpospolita.
Krakow's archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II's private secretary, said he had received news about Jagosz's alleged activities "with true sorrow" and hoped the allegations would be proved untrue.
The head of a separate tribunal set up in Krakow, where John Paul II was once archbishop, has said reverence for the late pope had led to calls for him to be declared a saint immediately, without a preliminary beatification.
"A direct canonisation is theoretically possible - although it isn't allowed for in canon law, the Pope could decide differently," Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek told the Catholic information agency, KAI.
© Ecumenical News International. Reproduced with permission. ENI