‘I was deeply moved and saddened’- How Polish bishops react to documentary on clerical abuse

Warsaw, Poland, May 15, 2019 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Catholics bishops in Poland are responding to a new documentary that addresses clerical sexual abuse in the country.

The documentary presents allegations that abusive priests were shifted between parishes, and shows people confronting elderly priests alleged to have abused them as children,

The film, “Tell No One,” was posted to YouTube by filmmaking brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, has nearly 14 million views and counting.

“Today I was deeply moved and saddened when watching Mr. Sekielski's film, and I would like to thank him for this film,” Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, President of the Polish bishops' conference, wrote May 13.

“For the most part, the message of the film corresponds to my experience gained during the many conversations I have held with the victims.”

Archbishop Wojciech Polak of Gniezno, Delegate for the Protection of Children and Youth of the Polish bishops' conference, echoed Gadecki’s sentiments.

“The enormous suffering of people who have been hurt triggers pain and shame,” he said.  

“At this moment, I also have before my eyes the drama of the victims whom I have met personally. I thank all those who have the courage to speak about their suffering.”

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland, at a rally Sunday promised harsher punishment for child abusers, floating the idea of 30-year prison sentences in reaction to the film.

Polish law currently provides for a 12-year sentence for abuse of a child under 15.

“On behalf of the entire bishops’ conference, I would like all the victims to accept my sincere apologies; I realize that nothing can compensate them for the harms they have suffered,” Gadecki said.

Gadecki and Polak both referenced their belief that Pope Francis’ recent motu proprio, “Vos estis lux mundi,” is necessary as part of the solution.

The motu proprio, among other provisions, establishes obligatory reporting for clerics and religious, requires that every diocese has a mechanism for reporting abuse, and puts the metropolitan archbishop in charge of investigations of accusations against suffragan bishops.

“I am convinced that this film, too, will result in an even more stringent compliance with the guidelines for the protection of children and young people in the Church, in the implementation by all bishops of prevention principles in each diocese, and in compliance with the Motu proprio that Pope Francis promulgated [May 7],” Gadecki said.

 


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