In Poland, the communists came to power in 1944/1945. However, this People’s Republic had a special status within the member countries of the Warsaw Pact, for the regime had to obtain the population’s catholic majority to keep influence.
During the first years the development of state-church relationship was difficult to forcast. Therefore the Holy See transferred special authority rights to the Primate, Augustyn Cardinal Hlond, as well as to his successor, Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński. Both of them had the right to proclaim bishops in case of need without asking for Roman placet before.
However, clandestine bishop’s consecrations only were necessary for the former German east and meanwhile Polish west territories. The Holy See did not recognize the new boundaries until the German east treaties of 1972, while the Polish government insisted Roman appointments of regular ordinaries for this regions. Therefore, Primate Wyszyński considered it sensefull to nominate some secret bishops on April 26, 1951, to guarantee pastoral needs:
Theodor Bensch, Titular Bishop of Tabula; Pastoral Representative Wrocław (in Gorzów)
Bolesław Kominek, Titular Bishop of Sofene, Pastoral Representative Wrocław
Edmund Nowicki, Titular Bishop of Adriane.
Bishops Bensch and Nowicki, who was responsible for Gdańsk, could be consecrated only on September 21, 1954, in the chapel of Poznań’s residence by Valentin Dymek, Archbishop of Poznań, and co-consecrators Franciszek Jedwabski und Lucjan Bernacki. Bishop Kominek was consecrated in Przemyśl on October 10, 1954, by Mons. Franciszek Barda, Bishop of Przemyśl of the Latins, and co-consecrators Franciszek Jop and Wojciech Tomaka. All three bishops were published on December 1, 1956, and started public functions. After the 1964 death of the last German Bishop of Danzig, Carl Maria Splett, who lived in exile, Mons. Nowicki became his successor, while Mons. Kominek became first Polish Archbishop of Wrocław in 1972 and a cardinal one year after.
On June 28, 1972, the Holy See erected a regular Polish hierarchy for the former German territories. On October 16, 1978, the cardinals assembled in Rome elected the Cracovian Archbishop Karol Cardinal Wojtyła as new Supreme Pontiff. The beginning of communism’s end started.
The photos of this page are coming from the author’s archive.