A diocese fights back

A diocese fights back

Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz © Katharina Ebel (KNA)

The diocese of Bielsko-Zywiec in southern Poland is defending itself against accusations of a lack of cooperation with the public prosecutor's office on the ie of child sexual abuse.

It said (Thursday evening) in a press release that it had reported all abuse cases known to it to law enforcement authorities. The cases from before the introduction of mandatory reporting in July 2017 had also been reported to the prosecutor's office, he said.

Reproach to Cardinal Dziwisz

Poland's state child sexual abuse processing commission accuses Bishop Roman Pindel, his auxiliary bishop Piotr Greger and former local bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, as well as Krakow Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, of failing to inform authorities of allegations against priest Jan W. To have informed. The latter is alleged to have abused a child about 500 times in the Bielsko-Zywiec diocese from 1984 to 1989. The commission therefore reported the four bishops to the prosecutor's office for violating the reporting obligation.

The panel had heard victim Janusz Szymik at a non-public session in mid-February.

The diocese stressed that the chancellor of the diocese had also handed this case over to the authorities. "We consider cooperation with state law enforcement authorities as one of the main principles of effectively combating sexual abuse of minors," it said. Bishop Pindel had also opened an ecclesiastical investigation against Jan W in February 2014, a month after he took office, he said. initiated. In December 2017, it said, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith legally imposed sanctions against W. imposed. The diocese did not provide further details on the verdict.

Szymik said he had already unsuccessfully denounced the priest to Bishop Rakoczy in 1993. In 2012, he approached then-Archbishop Dziwisz of Krakow through clergyman Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski because the Bielsko-Zywiec diocese had not responded to his complaint. Dziwisz was metropolitan in charge of the diocese. At the beginning of the investigation in 2014, Szymik was heard by auxiliary bishop Greger.

Dziwisz rejects accusations

Isakowicz-Zaleski, who as a priest represents abuse victims, called the state commission's denunciation of the four bishops an "earthquake". "Those who neglected their duties should go and suffer the consequences," he told the Internet portal wp.pl.

People who have "credible" information about certain crimes must "immediately" notify police or prosecutors in Poland since July 2017; otherwise they face up to three years in prison. In January, the Krakow prosecutor's office had dismissed a criminal complaint against Dziwisz. The 81-year-old cardinal had not committed a crime because at the time, from 2006 to 2012, he had not been legally obliged to report such allegations against priests to police or prosecutors.

Dziwisz had also consistently denied the accusations against him. The cardinal is among the most prominent churchmen in Poland. He was personal secretary to Pope John Paul II. during his entire pontificate (1978-2005) and then archbishop of Krakow until 2016.

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