Polish priests refuse to confirm loyalty to bishop accused of sex abuse cover-up

Priests in the Polish diocese of Kalisz have refused to sign letters of loyalty to their bishop, who has been accused in a documentary of covering up child sex abuse.

The documentary “Hide and Seek” by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, was aired on YouTube on 16 May 2020, and has been watched by 7.2 million people.

The film accuses the Bishop of covering up the abuse of two 7 and 13 year old brothers, sexually abused by a priest in the diocese, in the 1990s.

The diocese’s council of priests, which acts as an advisory body to the bishop, was asked to sign letters to confirm their loyalty to him. But the priests on the council refused to do so. They stated that they first wanted to wait for the results of a Vatican investigation, launched after it was informed of the abuse allegations, by the head of Poland’s Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Wojciech Polak.

The refusal by the priests to back their bishop is unusual, in what remains a staunchly Catholic country.  One Polish Theologian, Professor Stanilaw Obirek, told the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, that:

These priests have shown great courage, which is a rarity in the hierarchical church structure,” he said. In his opinion, the priest’s refusal could be important in any attempts to seek the suspension of the bishop. He went on to say that “I hope that Poland is starting to go down the path toward normality and will start to throw light on paedophile acts committed by clergy.”

In March 2019, the Polish Catholic Church admitted that almost 400 priests had sexually abused children over the past 30 years.  It appears now that there is a growing mood amongst Polish priests serving today that it no longer is it acceptable to show unfettered support for their superiors, where they feel that support may not be merited.  As Professor Obirek went on to say – “the attitude of the priests in Kalisz in standing up to their bishop “shows that the church is no longer a monolith. The concrete is cracking.”

On 3 June the Vatican confirmed that the Polish archdiocese of Poznan had been instructed to investigate “the alleged negligence of the bishop of Kalisz in cases of sexual abuse of minors by some clerics”.  BLM will update this story as the investigation progresses.


Chambers_J-18_print

James Chambers, Associate, BLM
james.chambers@blmlaw.com

For more information on BLM Abuse & Neglect practice, please click here.

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