Polish archbishop refers child sex abuse case to Vatican

BBC News

May 17, 2020

By Adam Easton and others

The head of Poland’s Roman Catholic Church has said he is asking the Vatican to investigate the cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Church hierarchy to “launch proceedings” following the release of a documentary on the subject on Saturday.

The film tells the story of two brothers who seek to confront a priest who allegedly abused them as children.

The Vatican is expected to assign an investigator to the case.

The film – “Hide and Seek” – has been viewed more than 1.9 million times on YouTube. It is the second documentary on the subject by brothers Marek and Tomasz Sekielski.

It follows two victims as they attempt to bring to account those in the Church who were responsible for covering up their abuse.

It alleges that a senior bishop knew about the allegations for years but failed to take any action.

A new awareness in Poland

By Adam Easton, BBC Warsaw correspondent

In churches across Poland today, people are celebrating the life of their Pope, John Paul II, a day ahead of the centenary of his birth.

Numbers will be smaller than usual due to the coronavirus restrictions, but Karol Wojtyla, the first non-Italian to become pope in more than 450 years, is still revered in his homeland. In particular, for germinating the belief among people here in the 1980s that together, they could achieve the end of the communist regime, which then seemed impossible.

The Polish Catholic Church’s vital role in that victory subsequently gave it enormous influence in Polish society, including over politicians. The current Law and Justice-led government promotes traditional Catholic values.

When the Sekielski brothers’ first documentary became a subject of national debate last May, it agreed that a state commission should be set up. But it said it must not solely focus on the sexual abuse of children by priests, but also by members of other professions. The law to create the commission took effect in September, but since then, nothing has happened.

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