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Polish paedophile film mars John Paul II centenary

After the film “Hide and Seek” was seen by almost 80,000 people on YouTube, Polish archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Vatican to “launch proceedings” into the cases in question.

Polish archbishop refers child abuse negligence case to Vatican

Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak

Bishop Edward Janiak attends an event in Wroclaw, Poland May 12, 2006. In an unprecedented move in religious Poland, the Catholic primate on Saturday notified the Vatican of a Polish bishop accused of helping shield priests who were known to sexually abuse children after a film was released depicting his actions. Picture taken May 12, 2006. Pawel Koziol/Agencja Gazeta via

REUTERS

FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Wojciech Polak speaks with media representatives after extraordinary sitting of Polish bishops, at the Polish Episcopate headquarters in Warsaw, Poland May 22, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski/via

WARSAW (Reuters) – The Polish Catholic Church’s most senior archbishop notified the Vatican on Saturday of a Polish bishop accused of shielding priests known to have sexually abused children.
The referral, unprecedented in the deeply religious country, will test procedures introduced by the Vatican last year to hold to account bishops accused of turning a blind eye to child sex abuse.

The Vatican is now expected to assign an investigator to the case.

“I ask priests, nuns, parents and educators to not be led by the false logic of shielding the Church, effectively hiding sexual abusers,” Poland’s Primate Wojciech Polak said in a statement published on Saturday.

“There is no place among the clergy to sexually abuse minors. We do not allow for the hiding of these crimes.”

The case came to prominence after a film by brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, released on Saturday, showed how bishop Edward Janiak, based in the city of Kalisz, failed to take action against priests who were known to have abused children.

Janiak, who is still practicing, has not commented directly on the allegations. He did not respond to a request for comment by Reuters.

In Janiak’s defence, the Kalisz curia said the parents of one of the alleged victims portrayed in the film did not follow the right procedure.
“The recording in the film doesn’t show the whole conversation. It doesn’t show the part where we say that the parents should’ve expressed their concerns to the prosecutor immediately,” it said in a statement.

The Sekielski brothers released another film last year that suggested that known paedophiles were deliberately shifted between parishes. The film has over 23 million views on YouTube.

Victims of sexual abuse have long called for measures to make it easier to report alleged cover-ups by the Church.

Poland’s Catholic Church, an institution with close ties to the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party, has faced accusations in the past of shielding priests who abuse children.

A Church official told Reuters that Janiak’s referral was partly the result of the Vatican’s new procedure.

“I believe that this is just a facade,” said Agata Diduszko-Zyglewska, a co-author of a map marking child sexual abuse by priests around Poland.

“For the last year, the Catholic Episcopate has known that there are bishops who covered up paedophilia cases, and yet none of them have been dismissed.”

Poland faces tension between liberals who feel the Church wields too much power and conservatives who see the Catholic faith as a key element of national identity that must be protected.

A Polish documentary on child abuse by Catholic clerics put a damper Saturday on centenary celebrations of the venerated late Pope John Paul II’s birth. 
After the film “Hide and Seek” was seen by almost 80,000 people on YouTube, Polish archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Vatican to “launch proceedings” into the cases in question.

It is the second documentary by Tomasz Sekielski on child abuse within the church, and focuses in detail on two brothers who are alleged victims of a priest who was protected by a bishop.

“The film ‘Hide and Seek’ which I have just seen, shows that protection standards for children and adolescents in the Church were not respected,” Polak said in a video broadcast by the Catholic news agency KAI.

The archbishop added that he had asked the Vatican to launch proceedings under the auspices of an Apostolic Letter issued by Pope Francis in March 2019 on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons.

In May 2019, Sekielski released “Tell No One”, a similar documentary that has been viewed almost 23.5 million times on YouTube and sparked a national discussion of sex abuse by Catholic clergy.
The issue then faded however, and neither film explores a lack of action by Saint John Paul II, who was pope from 1978 to 2005 and who is widely venerated in his native Poland.

Sekielski has already said however that he will release a third documentary on the “role of John Paul II in the dissimulation of crimes committed by priests.” 

Poland has scheduled church services, events and online concerts to celebrate the birth of John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyła on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, southern Poland.

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