Poland’s Catholic church launches campaign on how to report sex abuse

Notes from Poland [Kraków, Poland]

May 10, 2023

By Agnieszka Wądołowska

Poland’s Catholic church is providing every parish in the country with posters explaining how people can report cases of sex abuse as well as presenting the rights of victims and the types of support that are offered to them.

The materials, part of a campaign launched by the Polish episcopate, are intended to present “in an accessible way” the church’s system for “extending support and necessary help to victims”.

“We want to make people aware that anyone in need of support can use it,” wrote Piotr Studnicki, the head of the episcopate’s office for the protection of children and youth.

Among the information provided are contact details of those responsible for receiving notifications of alleged abuse in all of Poland’s dioceses, as well as the types of support (psychological, spiritual and legal) provided by the Saint Joseph Foundation – a body established by the church – and other initiatives such as helplines.

The campaign’s website also offers information on how to report problems encountered while notifying the church authorities or any comments on the church’s victim support system.

Studnicki revealed that Wojciej Polak – who is the Primate of Poland and also the episcopate’s delegate for the protection of children and youth – has addressed a letter to bishops asking them to distribute the posters in all parishes.

“We are counting on priests throughout Poland joining the campaign and hanging the posters on church information tables,” he added.

The Catholic church in Poland has experienced a wave of accusations of sexual abuse in recent years, as well as claims that it has deliberately avoided dealing with paedophiles in its ranks.

As a result, the Vatican has disciplined a number of Polish bishops for negligence in dealing with the issue. A series of court cases have also resulted in the church being ordered to pay compensation to victims of abuse.

This year has seen controversy over allegations that the late Polish Pope John Paul II was, while bishop of Kraków, negligent in dealing with cases of abuse by priests under his authority. However, many, including Poland’s conservative government, have disputed the claims.

Agnieszka Wądołowska

Agnieszka Wądołowska is deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She has previously worked for Gazeta.pl and Tokfm.pl and contributed to Gazeta Wyborcza, Wysokie Obcasy, Duży Format, Midrasz and Kultura Liberalna