Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Piotr Libera from the office of Płock ordinary, which was made due to his health condition. Wiesław Śmigiel, the bishop of Toruń, was appointed the apostolic administrator of the sede vacante of the Płock diocese. The apostolic nunciature in Poland informed about the Pope’s decision on Saturday.
In a statement published on Saturday at noon by the apostolic nunciature in Poland, it was announced that the pope “accepted the resignation of Bishop Piotr Libera from the post of Bishop of Płock on health grounds”. At the same time, Franciszek “appointed the apostolic administrator of the Płock diocese sede vacante (the period when the bishop’s seat is vacant – ed.) In the person of Wiesław Śmigiel, the bishop of Toruń”.
Bishop Piotr Libera
Bishop Piotr Libera was born on March 20, 1951 in Szopienice. He is a graduate of the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome, where he studied from 1980-1986. There he obtained his doctorate in classical and old Christian literature. After returning to Poland, he taught Latin and lectured on patrology at the Higher Theological Seminary in Katowice. From 1989 he was the secretary of the Apostolic Nuncio in Poland, Archbishop. Józef Kowalczyk.
On November 23, 1996, Pope John Paul II appointed him titular bishop of Centuria and auxiliary bishop of the Katowice Archdiocese. He was ordained bishop on January 6, 1997 in Rome by John Paul II. During the 294th Plenary Meeting, held in Warsaw from April 30 to May 1, 1998, he was elected the secretary general of the Polish Episcopal Conference.
In the years 1998-2007 he was the secretary general of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. He became a member of the Joint Commission of the Government and the Episcopate and of the Church Concordat Commission. He participated in the activities of the Team for Scientific and Language Scholarships, and was the chairman of the Team for the Common Cultural Heritage of the KKK. He belonged to the committee organizing the pilgrimage of John Paul II to Poland in 1999, and was also involved in the preparations for the celebration of the Great Jubilee of 2000. In 2006, he was the main coordinator of work related to the preparation of Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Poland.
On May 2, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Ordinary of Płock.
Reaction to incidents of sexual abuse in the Church
More than year ago, during one of the homilies, Bishop Libera spoke– We squandered so many important works, so many wise teachings of Saint John Paul II. So let us consciously show our wounds, our weaknesses of faith to the Lord Jesus, because he also shows us his wounds today.
And continuing to ask, “Is there anything almighty God cannot?” He replied, “Yes, he cannot reject a sinner.” Referring to the teachings of the Church Fathers, he explained that “there is nothing that would attract the Holy Spirit more than just a sinner who wants to convert, who wants to leave his sins, who wants to leave a miserable, evil and wicked life”.
He argued that “we should suffer a lot today that so many are departing from Christ that they disregard His Gospel that they slam the door to the Church behind them.” As he said, “our faith today, our spiritual sensitivity, must therefore be similar to the wounded body of Jesus, because there is some divine act in it and a sign of our small, not great grace, since today we often lose the fight for the souls of the young generation, when today we are unable to effectively and concretely prevent family breakdown, that we are divided and often unbelievable towards the world, that although we help those in need, we often do it somehow in a chaotic manner. “
Also last year Płock diocese published a report on cases of sexual abuse committed by some of the local clergy and reported from May 31, 2007 to May 31, 2021, i.e. during the 14 years of Bishop Libera’s ministry. The document was prepared at the request of the hierarch by the team “To heal and renew”. Its aim is, among other things, to “purify and heal the community of the Church”.
Main photo source: Szymon Łabiński / PAP