Bolesław Kominek

Bolesław Kominek
Styles of
Bolesław Kominek
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Wrocław

Bolesław Kominek (23 December 1903 – 10 March 1974) was a Polish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Wrocław from 1972 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1973.


Bolesław Kominek was born in Radlin II, German Empire to Franciszek, a miner, and Kataryna (née Kozielskich) Kominek. Studying at the gymnasium of Rybnik and the Catholic University of Kraków, he received the subdiaconate in 1926 from Cardinal August Hlond, SDB, and the diaconate in 1926 from Bishop Arkadiusz Lisiecki.

He was ordained to the priesthood by the same Bishop Lisiecki on 11 September 1927 in Katowice (Autonomous Silesian Voivodeship, Poland), and then furthered his studies at the Institut Catholique de Paris and did pastoral work among the Polish immigrants in Paris until 1930. Kominek did pastoral work in the Diocese of Katowice from 1930 to 1939, and with Polish fugitives during World War II until 1945, serving in Lublin, Katowice, and Upper Silesia.

With the unilateral shifting westward of the border between Poland and Germany, most of the archdiocese of Wrocław/Breslau was now within Poland, but smaller parts were in East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Until the matter was eased by a treaty between West Germany, claiming succession of pre-1945 Germany, and the People's Republic of Poland, the Holy See could not endorse the alteration of the border by reorganizing the identities and boundaries of dioceses untries. It continued therefore to recognize as vicar capitular of the archdiocese Father Ferdinand Piontek (1878–1963), a Polish-speaking German priest who had been elected after the death of Cardinal Adolf Bertram on 6 July 1945.

Cardinal Hlond, on the basis of special faculties granted to him but that in reality did not apply to the former German territories, required Piontek to resign from his position of vicar general of the territory east of the new border. On 28 February 1946 Pope Pius XII granted Piontek, when still residing in Wrocław, the rights of a residing bishop. Piontek was expelled from Poland to the British zone of occupation on 9 July, however, he could return to the archdiocese in March 1947, then taking office at the new ordinariate in East German Görlitz, built up since September 1945.

On 15 August 1945 Hlond appointed administrators for the three sections into which he divided the Polish archdiocesan territory with effect of 1 September. Kominek was the administrator whom he appointed for the area of Opole, an appointment that was not recognized by the Holy See. Kominek's ministry there was, in any case, interrupted on 26 January 1951 by the Polish Communist regime.

Soon after, on 26 April 1951, Pope Pius XII appointed Kominek titular bishop of Sophene and "Pastoral Representative" with residence in Wrocław. However, the Communist regime forbade him taking up residence there and from being consecrated. Nevertheless, Kominek was secretly consecrated as bishop on 10 October 1954 at the hands of Bishop Franciszek Barda, with Bishops Franciszek Jop and Wojciech Tomaka serving as co-consecrators. The consecration was kept secret until 1956, when he could finally move to Wrocław and was appointed on 1 December titular Bishop of Vaga. On 19 March 1962 he was raised in rank by being named titular Archbishop of Euchaitae and on 25 May 1962 was appointed apostolic administrator ad nutum Sanctae Sedis. He and Bishop Jop were co-consecrators at the episcopal consecration by Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak of Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Krakow on 28 September 1958. From 1962 to 1965, he attended the Second Vatican Council.

In June 1966, Życie Warszawy called for the replacement of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński by Kominek. Kominek responded by stating, "On questions of the existence of the Church, we [the hierarchy] are always together".[1]

In response to West Germany's change in Ostpolitik the difficulties in the way of an official change of the status of the dioceses affected by the Oder-Neisse line were considered removed and on 28 June 1972 Pope Paul VI appointed Kominek the second Archbishop of Wrocław. In the consistory of 5 March 1973, he made him Cardinal Priest of Santa Croce in Via Flaminia.

One year later, Cardinal Kominek died in Wrocław, at the age of 70, and is buried at the metropolitan cathedral of Wrocław.


  1. TIME Magazine. The Angry Strangler 17 June 1966

External links

Catholic Church titles
Title last held by
Adolf Bertram
1945–1972 sede vacante
Archbishop of Wrocław
Title next held by
Henryk Gulbinowicz
1974–1976 sede vacante
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