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Newspaper Says Secret Police Tried to Eavesdrop on Pope

May 22, 1990

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Secret police under the previous Communist regime bugged the Jasna Gora monastery at Czestochowa just before Pope John Paul II’s 1979 pilgrimage, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Vatican security officials discovered the eavesdropping devices and gave the pope another room, Solidarity’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper said.

The disclosure follows earlier reports by the Solidarity-led government that the now-dissolved Security Service eavesdropped on hotel rooms, foreign journalists and Solidarity offices.

The Security Service was disbanded after Solidarity Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki took power in September. It once had an entire department devoted to monitoring the Catholic Church.

The listening devices at the shrine in southern Poland, which shelters the revered Black Madonna icon, were installed during an expansion of the monastery’s electrical system in preparation for the pope’s visit, the paper said.

Vatican officials inspecting the rooms tipped off the Rev. Jozef Platek, then head of the 600-year-old monastery, to the electronic listening devices. Platek assigned the pope to another room.

According to the article, the monastery also mysteriously developed plumbing problems before the 1979 papal trip and a subsequent visit - an apparent effort to allow a plumber to gain access to the papal quarters.

When the monastery fired its plumber, the Interior Ministry pressed for his rehiring, the paper said.

Gazeta Wyborcza writer Dariusz Fedor said the story was based mainly on interviews with confidential sources.

The Polish-born pope’s 1979 visit was the first by a Catholic primate to an East bloc country. It attracted huge crowds and is credited with inspiring the Solidarity movement born the next year.

The Jasna Gora shrine became legendary in Poland after it withstood a determined Swedish siege in 1655.

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