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He entered the archdiocesan seminary where he completed his secondary studies, before being transferred to Białystok.
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 Białystok. 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 (Białystok). The following 8 February he received episcopal ordination from the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. 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 Białystok the Parish Catechetics Center and reviving the trimestral publication "Wiadomości Kościelne Archidiecezij w Białystoku" (Church news of the archdiocese of Białystok).
On 3 January 1976 he became Archbishop of Wrocław. While guiding this local Church during these years, he created many pastoral centers in this large region. In addition, he founded the biweekly "Now Zycie" (New Life) and crowned the statue of the Virgin as protector of the famous shrine of Wambierzyce in Silesia, which attracts pilgrimages continually.
A few days before martial law was imposed in 1981, local Solidarity union branch withdrew from bank account 80 million Polish zlotys, equivalent of today's USD 100 million, and deposited the cash with Gulbinowicz, who hid it from the communist regime during Solidarity's delegalisation.
He is the author of a number of works in the area of moral and doctrinal theology, and on the formation of the clergy. In May 25, 1985 Gulbinowicz was created Cardinal by John Paul II. Since 3 April 2004, he has been Archbishop emeritus of Wrocław. His year of birth had been listed as 1928 (which would mean he was ordained early), but in early February 2005 that was publicly disclosed as 1923 (5 years older), thus meaning he had reached age 80 in 2003 and at that time lost the right to participate in a conclave. (In early 2005, Pope John Paul II was in poor health and would die in early April, thus leading to a conclave.)la:Henricus Romanus Gulbinowicz no:Henryk Roman Gulbinowiczpt:Henryk Roman Gulbinowicz ru:Гульбинович, Хенрик Роман fi:Henryk Roman Gulbinowicz