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Did Orthodox cleric aid the secret police?

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Bishop Pimen, an elderly Orthodox cleric who was once vocal in demanding the return of church lands confiscated by the communists, was also a collaborator of the feared Securitate secret police, the council publishing the Securitate files said.

Pimen declined to comment on Tuesday's announcement, wishing reporters "good health."

Pimen is archbishop for Suceava and Radauti and considered one of the luminaries of the church. He has hosted Romania's former King Michael and Britain's Prince Charles at the famous painted monasteries in northeast Romania.

The announcement came from the Council for Study of the Securitate Archives, which is also examining the Securitate files of other senior Orthodox clergy.

Pimen is among seven senior Orthodox clergy believed to have collaborated with the Securitate, according to the council.

Pimen is accused of informing on fellow clergy and members of Romania's expatriate community, NewsIn news agency reported.

During communism, thousands of priests were imprisoned or sent to labor camps, alongside tens of thousands of other political prisoners. Many signed pledges promising to be Securitate informants when they were released.