La Croix International [France]
June 30, 2021
By Magda Viatteau
The wave of sexual abuse accusations within the Church is intensifying in John Paul II’s homeland, according to a new report published by Poland’s Catholic bishops
The Catholic bishops of Poland have released new statistics on sexual abuse in the Church, following the Holy See’s recent sanctioning of a several prelates for “negligence” in handling cases of priests who abused minors.
The publication of the new data this past Monday also followed a lengthy visit to Poland by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE).
The Italian was in the Eastern European country to investigate similar accusations of negligence against John Paul II’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.
“We are facing a wave of accusations,” said Adam Żak, the Jesuit priest in charge of the Polish episcopal conference’s office for the protection of minors.
“The trend is not downward; it remains at a fairly high level of numbers,” he explained at a press conference on Monday.
“Great shame and immense pain”
The Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak of Gniezno, said that not all victims have yet come forward to report the abuse they suffered.
He spoke of the Church’s “great shame and pain” and again asked for forgiveness for both the crimes and the “negligence” of the perpetrators’ superiors.
In fact, the figures presented by the director of the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics, Pallotine Father Wojciech Sadłoń, show that despite the worldwide wave of denunciations and sanctions, both ecclesial and judicial, sexual abuse is still a reality in Poland.
Some 368 cases of historical abuse were reported from July 2018 till the end of 2020.
Perpetrators were identified as 292 priests or religious. Most of the cases were from many years ago, dating back to 1958.
But 65 cases of abuse actually took place between 2018 and 2020.
A “wave of denunciations”
These figures are to be compared with the results of the previous, similar survey published in March 2019, which covered the years 1958-2018 and revealed 382 cases.
“Since the last investigation, we have had a wave of accusations. This is a sign that there are potentially still quite a few hidden cases that could be exposed,” Żak said.
The report released Monday also brings a change of perspective to the previous one, the Jesuit noted.