Thursday, March 28, 2002

Polish sex scandal archbishop quits

WARSAW, Poland -- A Roman Catholic archbishop has resigned following newspaper allegations that he made homosexual advances on young clerics.

Juliusz Paetz, the 67-year-old Archbishop of Poznan, in Poland, had denied the claims but submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul II following a Vatican investigation.

Celebrating a Mass in Poznan Cathedral on Thursday, Paetz said "the Holy Father accepted my resignation."

He said he offered to resign for the "good of the church in Poznan."

Paetz also said he had fallen victim to misinterpretations of his "kindness and spontaneity."

The decision by Paetz, who worked at the Vatican from 1967 to 1976 in the Bishops Synod Secretariat, comes days after the pope said "grave scandal" was casting a "dark shadow of suspicion" over all priests.

In an annual pre-Easter message to priests worldwide, the pope said "as priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers who have betrayed the grace of ordination."

He added: "Grave scandal is caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice."

Paetz, who became a bishop in 1982 and archbishop in 1996, has repeatedly denied the allegations of sexual harassment that surfaced last month.

A newspaper report last month accused him of molesting trainee priests and young clerics.

A team from the Vatican was sent by the pope to investigative the claims.

Newspapers said the team had found no direct evidence of Paetz abusing priests but he was to be removed for "inappropriate behaviour" towards seminarians and priests.

In a letter sent to all churches on Pozan earlier this month, Paetz said: "I deny all the information published by the media and I assure you that it is a misinterpretation of my words and behaviour.

"The biggest criminals have a right to anonymity unless a court decides otherwise. I was deprived of that. Mass media have already judged me and sentenced me."

Paetz is the highest-ranking prelate to be brought down in a spate of resignations connected to sexual misconduct.

In 1998 Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer was forced to give up all his duties amid allegations he molested young boys.
Archbishop quits after sexual misconduct allegations

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — An archbishop who was one of the few Poles at the Vatican when John Paul II became pope announced his resignation Thursday, the highest-ranking prelate to be brought down in a spate of sexual harassment allegations shaking the Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Juliusz Paetz of Poznan, an appointee and longtime acquaintance of the only Polish pope in history, stepped down amid a mounting scandal in the overwhelmingly Catholic country over accusations that he made sexual advances on young clerics. At a Mass at Poznan's cathedral, Paetz said he was resigning "for the good of the church" but protested his innocence, saying that "my kindness and spontaneity were misinterpreted."