The Catholic Church in Poland is facing a wave of allegations of sexual abuse committed by clergy and often involving minor children.
According to the reports, the Catholic Church of Poland, the core element of Poland’s national identity, which has been accused of covering up crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy, on Monday acknowledged that it had received complaints of abuse from 368 boys and girls in the last three years.
Admitting the cover-ups, the Polish church’s Archbishop Wojciech Polak, pleaded for forgiveness from “those wronged and all those shocked by the evil in the church”. He said the figures did not express the full depth of the crimes of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by some clergymen. Almost half of the reported victims of abuse by senior clergymen are under age 15.
“I would like to address all those who have been wronged and scandalised by the evil in the church. I would like to ask for forgiveness once again,” said Wojciech Polak, the Archbishop of Gniezno.
Nearly 75 per cent of the complaints reported on Monday are related to abuse incidents before 2018, with some dating back to 1958.
According to the church, 39 per cent of the complaints have been found to be true so far, while investigations are being carried out to look into the remaining cases.
Vatican has threatened to investigate sexual crimes committed by Polish church authorities
Poland’s Catholic Church admitted to the sexual abuse by its clergymen just days after the Vatican had said it was investigating accusations against a retired Polish cardinal of negligence on sexual abuse. The statement by the Vatican has triggered the Poland Church to launch an investigation on its own to show that it is serious about grappling with sex crimes against its own clergy.
The Vatican had said it would investigate one of the most senior figures in the Polish church, Stanislaw Dziwisz, who served as Archbishop of Krakow from 2005-2016 for covering up paedophilia allegations.
The Catholic Church of Poland has been hit by a series of paedophilia scandals, leading to the erosion of its authority, especially among younger Poles. The Church had released a similar survey in 2019 found in which it had accounted for 382 abuse sexual abuse complaints against minors over the previous 28 years.
Ever since allegations of sexual abuse surfaced, the Polish church has been struggling to convince its worshipers that it has the problem under control. Since then, several senior churchmen have been forced to resign or go into early retirement.