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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Polish Church releases first report on clerical sex abuse

A top Polish Catholic leader, named the first bishops’ conference delegate for child protection, welcomed a Church report on sexual abuse by clergy in his country and vowed efforts to combat it.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak of Gniezno spoke at a 14th March news conference launching the abuse report, compiled from dioceses and religious orders by the Polish Church’s Statistics Institute and Child Protection Centre. The report listed 382 cases of sexual abuse between 1990 and 2018, involving 625 minors: 58 per cent boys and 42 per cent girls.

“Every one of these victims should awaken pain, shame and guilt, both among clergy and in me as a leader,” said Archbishop Polak. “We can never do enough.”

The report said canonical procedures had been followed by the Church in 95 per cent of instances, with three-quarters of cases brought to completion. However, it added that only a quarter of cases had seen the defrocking of abusers; 40 per cent ended in restrictions on priestly ministry.

Work transfers, suspensions and acts of penance had been ordered in 12 per cent of cases, while 13 per cent of cases had been discontinued and 10 per cent of suspected abusers acquitted.

Picture: Polish bishops attend a news conference to release the Church’s first clerical sex abuse report on 14th March. In zucchettos, from left, are Bishop Artur Mizinski, secretary-general of the Polish bishops’ conference; Archbishops Marek Jedraszewski of Krakow; Stanislaw Gadecki, bishops’ conference president; and Wojciech Polak of Gniezno. (CNS photo/Adam Stepien, Agencja Gazeta via Reuters).