Vatican announces resignation of Polish bishop due to “negligence in handling sexual abuse”

Notes from Poland [Kraków, Poland]

March 11, 2024

The Vatican has announced the resignation of Andrzej Dziuba, the bishop of Łowicz, due to his “negligence in handling cases of sexual abuse against minors”. However, a leading Catholic commentator has criticised the church for allowing the bishop to go into retirement rather than facing real punishment.

Meanwhile, criminal proceedings against Dziuba are ongoing, after Poland’s state commission on paedophilia filed a notice to prosecutors on suspicion that the bishop had failed to notify law enforcement authorities of abuse committed by his subordinate.

On Saturday, the apostolic nunciature, the Vatican’s embassy in Poland, released two statements about Dziuba’s resignation. The first informed that Pope Francis had accepted Dziuba’s resignation and appointed a new bishop, Wojciech Osial, as his temporary replacement.

The second cited the reasons behind the decision as being “difficulties in the management of the diocese”, particularly “negligence in handling sexual abuse cases committed by some clergy against minors”, saying this had been confirmed in proceedings conducted by the Holy See.

The latter statement did not, however, provide any further details as to the nature of Dziuba’s negligence nor of the sexual abuse cases it had related to.

The Vatican’s investigation was prompted by a series of reports by investigative news website regarding the claims that Dziuba, who had served as bishop of Łowicz since 2004, had failed to act on knowledge of sexual abuse of children by priests under his authority.

In 2020, the website published a secret recording of a conversation the bishop held in 2020 with a victim of one such priest, in which Dziuba admitted that the diocese had first received reports about the priest’s crimes in the mid-1990s but there had been “ommissions on our part” in the church’s response. reported that, despite being aware of the allegations against the priest, Dziuba had allowed him to continue working with children, including leading an altar boys’ football team.

A preliminary investigation into the priest, which should have taken weeks, lasted three years, only after which he was removed from contact with children, reports the website. In 2018, the Vatican removed Dziuba from overseeing the investigation and transferred responsibility to another bishop.

In 2021, the priest in question, named only as Piotr S. in Polish media was found guilty of abuse in church proceedings and expelled from the priesthood. In 2023, he was convicted in a public court and handed a three-year prison sentence.

In a separate case reported by, Dziuba was found to have allowed three priests who had previously been caught in a room with naked altar boys watching a pornographic film to continue having unrestricted access to children, including one who taught Catholic catechism classes in a primary school.

The latest case of Dziuba’s alleged negligence, reported by in 2022, concerned him launching an investigation into another priest’s abusive behaviour five years after having initially learned about it and doing so only after prosecutors started looking into the matter.

Dziuba then suspended the priest from his duties and sent him to a monastery. Later, a court sentenced the clergyman to two years in prison.

Last year, prosecutors in Poland began an investigation into whether Dziuba had failed in his obligation to notify the authorities of child sex abuse. They did so following a notification to this effect that was submitted to them by Poland’s state commission on paedophilia.

Separately, in 2020 the Vatican ordered an investigation into negligence by Dziuba following the reports by Another Polish bishop, Grzegorz Ryś, was tasked with overseeing it.

That process has led to Saturday’s announcement of Dziuba’s retirement. However, a leading Catholic journalist, Tomasz Terlikowski, criticised the church for such lenient treatment of the bishop.

In a column for RFM24, Terlikowski noted that the retired bishop will benefit from a monthly pension and a food allowance. Additionally, his rent, including all bills, will be covered, as will all healthcare costs and remuneration for one person helping him at home.

We must “ask ourselves whether what the Vatican did was a punishment or a mockery”, added Terlikowski, who has been a longstanding and vocal critic of failings by the church to deal with cases of sexual abuse.

In recent years, the Catholic church in Poland has come under increased scrutiny and criticism for its alleged failures in dealing with such cases, hundreds of which have come to light. In response, the Vatican has taken disciplinary action against a number of Polish bishops.

Last year, the Vatican for the first time handed over to a Polish court the case file of a former priest on trial for child sex abuse. The move came after the local Polish archbishop informed the judge that he was unable to make the documents available himself.

Shortly afterwards, one of Poland’s most senior bishops apologised for neglect in how the country’s Catholic church dealt with child sex abuse by priests in the past, saying that it had been “naive”.