VATICAN CITY (AP) – A priest accused of spying for Poland’s communist government while he was close to Pope John Paul II’s entourage spoke too loosely about the inner workings of the Vatican but was not an informer, a Roman Catholic official investigating the allegations said Saturday.

The Rev. Maciej Zieba, who is head of the Dominican order in Poland, had harsh words for the Polish institute that made the accusations against the Rev. Konrad Stanislaw Hejmo, who also is Dominican, saying the accusations were made out of context.

Zieba flew to Rome to question Hejmo shortly after Poland’s National Remembrance Institute, which guards communist-era police files, accused the priest of collaborating with Polish secret services when the nation was under communist rule.

In predominantly Roman Catholic Poland, where John Paul was revered as a hero, the accusations against Hejmo stunned many.

The Polish-born John Paul, elected pope in 1978, would have been of great interest to the communist secret police because of his role in inspiring the Solidarity trade union opposition to the communist government, which collapsed in 1989.

Throughout the late John Paul’s papacy, Hejmo, a conspicuous figure in his white Dominican robes, was seen accompanying Polish pilgrims at the Vatican. He was close to the papal entourage, although not part of John Paul’s inner circle.

Hejmo, 69, has acknowledged sharing reports that he wrote for Polish church officials with an acquaintance, a Pole who lived in Germany, and said he received money from the man through other priests.

But he has insisted he did not suspect the man might have been a spy, and he denied being a secret agent, describing his actions as “naive.”

Zieba said Saturday that Hejmo had “made a pact with the devil,” calling the priest’s conduct “serious business, unacceptable.”

The information he provided “was too much information, too concrete. He was very open, too open” in discussing what he knew about the Vatican, Zieba said, adding that some of the information could have been useful to Polish authorities.

Hejmo would be disciplined for speaking too loosely about the Vatican, but he “wasn’t a real collaborator, he wasn’t a secret agent,” Zieba told journalists at the edge of St. Peter’s Square.

Asked whether Hejmo passed on anything that could have endangered the late pope, who was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in 1981, Zieba said such speculation would be “rubbish.”

Much of what Hejmo passed on dealt with Vatican views on various matters, Zieba said without elaborating.

Hejmo has agreed to stop working with Polish pilgrims until a final report on the case is issued likely by the end of the month, Zieba said. Separately, the Dominicans will decide on how to discipline Hejmo.

Reports in Poland have said Hejmo, who lives in a convent in an upscale Rome neighborhood, will be ordered back to his homeland to live in a Dominican cloister.

Hejmo greeted Poles at Pope Benedict XVI’s audience on Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square, but left just before the pontiff arrived.

Zieba said he discussed Hejmo’s case with “important” people at the Vatican, but he declined to name them.

Zieba also had harsh words for the Polish institute for singling out Hejmo without laying out detailed or documentary evidence, which the institute has said would be released later this month.

“We should remember that to be in a hurry is dangerous for a man who could almost be murdered publicly,” Zieba said of Hejmo’s reputation. He blasted the institute for revealing only Hejmo’s name and making accusations out of context.

The accusations originated with Leon Kieres, head of the state-run institute. He told a news conference last month that Hejmo “was a secret collaborator of the Polish secret services under the names Hejnal and Dominik.”

Kieres did not provide details or documentary evidence, saying they would be published this month. He said more documents about spying on church figures would be published later this year in a book by a historian given special access to documents at the institute.

When the accusations were made, Zieba, then in Poland, called what he had read in the files “convincing and shocking.”

Zieba said the Dominicans would do their own housekeeping to see if any of the friars had collaborated with the secret police. He also said he recommended that the institute and the order form a joint commission to investigate the Hejmo case.

The release of Communist-era information has created turmoil in Poland recently with the leak of an index to files in the custody of the institute. The list included names, but it did not distinguish between people who informed and those who were spied on.

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