Pope Francis praying for Polish Catholics seeking Vatican intervention on clerical abuse

Pope Francis. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Pope Francis is praying for a group of lay people who appealed to him to crack down on clerical abuse in Poland, the Vatican said yesterday.

More than 600 people took out a full-page advertisement in the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica on Monday 29 June, urging the pope to intervene in the growing abuse crisis in the country.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, told journalists June 30: “The Holy Father is informed of the appeal. He is praying for those who sent it. The entire Church must do everything possible so that the canonical norms are applied, cases of abuse are brought to light and those guilty of these serious crimes are punished.” 

In March 2019, the Polish bishops’ conference issued a report which concluded that 382 clergy sexually abused a total of 624 victims between 1990 and 2018.

The appeal, published in Italian, was headlined “Holy Father, rebuild our Church! We are begging you!”

It continued: “Please look with care at the Church in Poland where there have been cases of paedophilia, and loyalty to the institution is blind and deaf — more important than the victims.”

“The lack of a decisive reaction by the ecclesiastical hierarchy to the reports of reprehensible behaviour attributed to some bishops is a cause of public scandal and is detrimental to the Church’s well-being.”

“It affects her unity because it divides us into those who are concerned about the image of the institution and those who care about the well-being of the victims.”

The advertisement concluded by urging the Vatican and Pope Francis to intervene in order to “heal the wounds” in the Polish Church.

The initiative came days after Pope Francis appointed an apostolic administrator to take charge of a Polish diocese whose bishop is under investigation over his handling of an abuse case.

The Vatican announced 25 June that the pope had named Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś of Łódź to oversee the Diocese of Kalisz in central Poland, following accusations that the local ordinary, Bishop Edward Janiak, failed to take action against an alleged clerical abuser.

The newspaper advertisement encouraged readers to visit the lay group’s website, www.dosckrzywdy.pl, which can be translated as “Enough injustices.”

The website cites the cases of two bishops, Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź and Bishop Jan Tyrawa, who it claims were reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Bishops. It says that the Vatican congregations took no action against the bishops.

Głódź, who has served as archbishop of Gdańsk since 2008, was portrayed as indifferent to clerical abuse in the documentary Tell No One, which has been viewed almost 24 million times on YouTube since its release last year.

The documentary accused Tyrawa, the bishop of Bydgoszcz since 2004, of mishandling the case of Paweł Kania, who was dismissed from the clerical state in 2019.

A note on the group’s website explains that its members are drawn from various Polish dioceses, including those of Gdańsk,  Poznań, Warsaw, Wrocław, Kraków, Gniezno, and Kalisz. 

“We come from different environments and backgrounds, from various parishes and religious communities, but there is one thing that connects us – our faith in Jesus Christ. Many of us work in our parishes, evangelizing and helping people in need,” the note says.