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from issue no. 01 - 2008

The biography of Cardinal Glemp

The custodian of the remains of Saint Adalbert

by Gianni Cardinale

Cardinal Józef Glemp was born on 18 December 1929 in Inowroclaw, in the territory of the archdiocese of Gniezno, to a family of salt miners. In 1950 he entered the archdiocesan seminary of Gniezno, where in 1956 he received priestly ordination. After two years of pastoral activity he was sent, in 1958, to Rome to complete studies at the Pontifical Lateran University, where, in 1964, he gained a doctorate in utroque iure. Having returned to Poland, to Gniezno, in 1967, he was appointed to the Secretariat of the Primate, becoming one of the closest collaborators of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski for fifteen years. As personal chaplain to the Cardinal he accompanied him in his travels in Poland and to Rome. In 1979 John Paul II nominated him Bishop of Warmia, in the northeastern part of the country. On 7 July 1981, after the death of Cardinal Wyszynski (which occurred on 28 May), he was nominated Archbishop of Gniezno, with the union pro illa vice, ad personam of the Archdiocese of Warsaw. In so far as he was Archbishop of Gniezno, he also became Primate of Poland. In 1983 he was created cardinal. In 1992, with the restructuring of the ecclesiastical districts in Poland, John Paul II dissolved the union ad personam of Gniezno-Warsaw, and disposed that the title of Primate of Poland should remain tied to the historical heritage of Saint Adalbert, in the Archdiocese of Gniezno. At the same time however he confirmed that Cardinal Glemp, who remained Archbishop of Warsaw, would continue to bear the title of Primate of Poland, as custodian of the remains of Saint Adalbert, venerated in the Cathedral of Gniezno. On 1 November 2006 the Holy Father Benedict XVI confirmed Glemp in the title of Primate until he reaches eighty. On 6 December 2006 his resignation as Archbishop of Warsaw was accepted. In his place Stanislaw Wielgus was nominated, who had to resign on 6 January 2007 (the day after his taking of possession) because of the accusations of collaboration with the Communist regime leveled at him. On 3 March Kazimierz Nycz was nominated new Archbishop of Warsaw.
Glemp was also President of the Episcopal Conference of Poland for 23 years, from 1981 to March 2004. Moreover, in 1991 he was president delegate to the first Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops.

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