Konferencja Episkopatu Polski (Polish Bishops' Conference)
June 28, 2021
[Note from BishopAccountability: On 6/28/2021, the Polish bishops’ conference published on its website a brief abuse report in Polish, English and Italian. Here is the English version.]
In the period from July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2020, 368 declarations of sexual abuse against minors under and over 15 were received by dioceses and men’s orders in Poland. The reports concern the acts committed in the years 1958-2020. 292 priests and religious were accused of sexual crimes against minors during that period. These are the data of the latest report prepared by the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church in cooperation with the Office of the Delegate for the Protection of Children and Youth of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. The research was financed by the Saint Joseph Foundation of the Polish Episcopate.
From mid-2018 to the end of 2020, 300 declarations of sexual abuse against minors were made in dioceses and 68 in religious orders. 173 (47%) people were under the age of 15 and almost the same number of people – 174 (47.3%) – were over 15 years old. In both age groups, the percentage of boys and girls was the same (50% each). 21 reports (5.7%) did not contain information on age: 8 concerned abuse against girls, and 13 against boys.
The reports concerned allegations of sexual abuse against minors from 1958-2020 (the year the offense began). 299 reports (81%) concerned crimes committed between 1958 and 2017, and 65 (18%) reports crimes in the last three years (2018-2020).
51% of the reports made between mid-2018 and the end of 2020 are still under investigation, and 39% of the allegations were considered confirmed or substantiated at the preliminary stage or by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 10% of the declarations were considered unfounded and rejected.
Charges of sexual crimes against minors concern 292 priests and religious. 58 (20%) of the priests had more than one charge.
Half of the declarations were made by the victim in person (48%) or through a representative (2%). In 11% of cases, the source of the notification was a member of the clergy or religious from the same diocese, in 4% the accusation came from another diocese. In 4% of cases, the notification was made by a delegate from another diocese or congregation. In all, members of the clergy are the source of 19% of reports. 8% are notifications by family members of the victim, and 5% by another lay person. 3% of the cases were reported by the state authorities, the victim’s friends or friends, and in the media. In 9% of the cases, the notification came from a different source.
The declarations were sent to dioceses and religious congregations with varying intensity over time, however, in the analyzed period, there was no month in which no declaration was received by the church jurisdiction in Poland.
The situation of the accused at the time of data collection by the Office of the Delegate of the Polish Episcopate was different. Most often, they were temporarily removed from service while the charges were being investigated (46%) or from all pastoral contact with children and youth (36%), or they were ordered to stay in a specific place (37%). In other cases, the following procedures were used: temporary removal from certain dimensions of the ministry, prohibition to stay in a specific place, limitation of pastoral tasks, or canonical punishment. 16% of the accused priests are retired, and every tenth (11% of the accused in dioceses and 6% in religious orders) has not been removed from the ministry.
Of the 173 cases reported to church jurisdictions concerning victims under the age of 15, 148 (86%) were reported to state law enforcement agencies. In 113 cases, these reports were made by dioceses and Orders, and in 35 cases, state law enforcement agencies were notified by another entity. Of the cases involving persons under 15 that were not reported to state law enforcement agencies, 13 (8%) concerned clergy members or religious who were already dead at the time of the prosecution. 8 (5%) cases reported to church jurisdictions were not referred to the prosecutor’s office because they were considered unfounded or false. 4 (2%) reports were at the stage of initial verification at the time of data collection.
Of 174 reports of victims over 15 years of age, 35 cases (20%) were also reported to state law enforcement agencies, while 139 cases (80%) were not reported.
The first data on cases of sexual abuse against minors by priests and religious were collected in 2014, for the period 1990-2013, by Dr. Adam Żak, SJ, Coordinator of the Committee for the protection of children and youth of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Then, in 2018, the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference collected from all dioceses and men’s orders data on declarations for the period from January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2018. In March 2019, 382 reported cases from 1950-2018 were revealed, of which 198 concerned people under 15 years of age, and 184 people between 15 and 18 years old. At the request of the Delegate for the protection of children and youth of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Pallottine Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church “Witold Zdaniewicz” (ISKK) made an in-depth analysis of the data. It was presented on January 13, 2021 at a conference during the session “Building a System in the Church in Poland to Combat the Sexual Abuse of Minors.” Since the Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in October 2020, the Bishops – with the recommendation of their Delegate for the Protection of Children and Young People, Archbishop Wojciech Polak – have decided to continue their research into cases of sexual abuse against minors for the period from mid-2018 to the end of 2020. The preliminary results were presented to the bishops on June 12th, at the 389th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. The collection and processing of the data was funded by the St. Joseph Foundation of the Polish Episcopate.
Office of the Delegate for the Protection of Children and Youth of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
(Translation from the Polish by S. Pascale / Office for Foreign Communications of the Polish Bishops’ Conference)