Thursday, May 01, 2008

Vatican handed file on Polish priests’ actions

A Polish Roman Catholic diocese said yesterday that it had handed over to the Vatican the results of a probe into the alleged sexual harassment of seminarists and choir boys by three priests.

“After wrapping up the investigation, we have transferred the files to the Vatican. Now all we can do is wait,” Father Kazimierz Dziadak, spokesman for the diocese of Plock in central Poland, was quoted as saying by the Polish news agency PAP.

The diocese launched the investigation after the scandal broke in the Polish media in March 2007.

Three priests from the region are suspected of having harassed at least 10 seminarists and choir boys from 1992-2005. They have been suspended from Church duties.

Local justice authorities also investigated but later decided to shelve the case, saying they only found evidence of behaviour that was questionable on “moral but not criminal grounds”.

Polish media have blasted the former bishop of Plock, Monsignor Stanislaw Wielgus, for allegedly tolerating errant priests and denting the reputation of the Church in Poland, where more than 90% of the population of 38mn is Catholic.

Wielgus also found himself in the spotlight last year for other reasons. In January 2007 he was forced to quit as archbishop of Warsaw, only hours after being sworn into as the successor of the retiring Cardinal Jozef Glemp, after it emerged that he had collaborated with the secret police in communist-era Poland.