Cardinal Priest of Immacolata Concezione di Maria a Grottarossa
Cardinal Henryk Roman Gulbinowicz, member of the clergy of Bialystok, Archbishop emeritus of Wroclaw (Poland) , was born on 17 October 1923 in Sukiškes, in the Archdiocese of Vilnius. He entered the archdiocesan seminary at the age of sixteen where he completed his secondary studies, before being transferred to Bialystok.
He was ordained by Archbishop Romuald Jalbrzykowski on 18 June 1950, and was an associate pastor at Szudzialowo. After a year of parish experience, he was sent to Lublin to continue his preparation in theology at the Catholic University of Lublin. He earned a doctorate in moral theology in 1955; from 1956 to 1959 he was university chaplain in Bialystok. Following this he taught in the seminary at Warmia, while also working in the diocesan Curia of Olsztyn.
On 12 January 1970, Pope Paul VI appointed him titular Bishop of Acci, and also the apostolic administrator of the Polish section of the Archdiocese of Vilnius (Bialystok). The following 8 February he received episcopal ordination from the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. In charge of the Church community, he was responsible for the reorganization of the diaconate, and he also promoted the construction of new parishes. Already in 1944 he furthered the growth of religious life in his area by creating in Bialystok the Parish Catechetics Center and reviving the trimestral publication "Wiadomosci Koscielne Archidiecezij w Bialystoku" (Church news of the archdiocese of Bialystok).
On 3 January 1976 he became Archbishop of Wroclaw (Breslavia). While guiding this local Church during these years, he created many pastoral centers in this large region. In addition, he founded the biweekly "Nowe Zycie" (New Life) and crowned the statue of the Virgin as protector of the famous shrine of Wambierzyce in Silesia, which attracts pilgrimages continually.
He is the author of a number of works in the area of moral and doctrinal theology, and on the formation of the clergy.
Archbishop emeritus of Wroclaw, 3 April 2004.
It was announced in 2005 that His Eminence was born in 1923 not 1928 (as was previously officially listed as his birthdate). He was therefore already over 80, and ineligible to vote in conclave. He had falsified his birth records during World War II. His real birthdate was apparently well known to the Pope and within the Roman Curia.
Cardinal Gulbinowicz explained to the Polish Catholic agency KAI that he changed his date of birth in 1942, during the German occupation of the Vilnius region, which was then part of Poland. He said he did so at the suggestion of an officer of the independent Polish army, which fought against the Nazi and Soviet occupations.
"Changing the date of birth was a form of escape," Cardinal Gulbinowicz explained. "I must add here that I was not the only one who did it. My friends of the same age, or similar age, also were able to save themselves thanks to these alterations, done by people who wanted to protect us Poles from being sent as forced labor to Germany."