Monday, March 05, 2007

Sex-abuse allegations rip Polish diocese

In Poland, new accusations have been aired about sexual abuse of young men in the Diocese of Plock.

The daily Rzeczpospolita charges that in Plock, diocesan officials have been aware of sexual buse by priests, and has not acted to address the problem. The diocese has not responded to the accusations.

(The Plock diocese had been lead for the past 7 years by Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, who became the focus of a different sort of controversy after he was appointed Archbishop of Warsaw. He was forced to resign, shortly before his scheduled installation in Warsaw, in the face of accusations that he had been an informer for the secret police under the Communist regime.) A priest of the Plock diocese, quoted anonymously by Rzeczpospolita, said that the sex-abuse problems could be traced back to the 1970s, under the leadership of the late Bishop Bogdan Sikorski. At that time, the priest charged, some priests were preying on young men in the seminary; now those victims are priests, and they are repeating the offense with altar boys.

Father Adam Boniecki, the editor of the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, argued that there is no excuse for a failure to confront sexual abuse by clerics. “What took place in the Diocese of Plock,” he said, “is a consequence of the fact that in Poland, the bishops have not established clear procedures. The experience of the Church in Ireland and the USA demonstrated the necessity of procedures on how to act in the case of an accusation of pedophilia or homosexuality against a priest. The passivity of the institutional church is now deafening. Local bishops do not have the tools and courage in order to address such problems. After all, this is not a new phenomenon about which no one knew.”