Rome: Pope John Paul was spied on by Vatican informers working for the Polish secret services in the communist era, a Polish cardinal was quoted as saying on yesterday.
Cardinal Joseph Glemp, archbishop of Warsaw, was quoted as telling Italy's ANSA news agency that John Paul was the target of espionage between his election in 1978 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
John Paul was "spied on, and how", ANSA quoted Glemp as saying in Assisi, where he was attending a religious conference.
Glemp was repeating allegations that have surfaced in Poland since John Paul's death last year. He is one of the highest ranking Polish churchmen to speak about them openly.
"There were spies in the Vatican. Moscow had great interest in knowing what was going on in Rome with a Polish Pope in office," he was quoted as saying.
John Paul was the first Pope from a communist country. He supported the Solidarity free trade union which challenged communism in Poland in the years leading up to the collapse of the Soviet bloc.
Earlier this year, an Italian parliamentary report said Soviet leaders planned the failed assassination attempt on John Paul in 1981 because they feared he would destabilise the East bloc.
Last year, documents released by the Polish National Remembrance Institute, which oversees research into communist-era files, said it had evidence that Father Konrad Hejmo had been an informer for the Polish security services. Hejmo was for many years in charge of Polish pilgrims visiting Rome and was close to the papal entourage.
Hejmo has denied being a spy, saying he was "naive" because he had shared information with a Pole living in Germany who was later uncovered as a spy.