Bishops reap much headwind

Bishops reap much headwind

The Church shows remorse: Poland's Catholic bishops have acknowledged shortcomings in protecting children from sexual abuse. "We confess that as shepherds of the Church we have not done everything possible to prevent suffering."

This was stated by the Permanent Council of the Polish Bishops' Conference in a message to the faithful published on Wednesday, which will be read out at church services next Sunday. For many faithful, the "sexual scandals involving clergy would be a severe test of faith and a great annoyance," it says.

Special meeting of the Permanent Council

In view of the nationwide horror triggered by a documentary film about child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and the cover-up of these crimes by the Church, the Permanent Council of the Bishops' Conference met in Warsaw for a special session.

In their statement, the bishops advocate "harsh consequences for the criminals and those who concealed such acts". It said there is "no word that can express our shame for the sexual scandals involving clergy".

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, president of the bishops' conference, emphasized his sadness about the child abuse. On behalf of the bishops, he apologized again to "all who were touched by this sin and at the same time crime".

The bishops' statement, titled "Sensitivity and Responsibility," shows the "way out of the crisis," according to Piotr Studnicki, spokesman for the church's Child Protection Center. So the victims should be better helped. A group of experts will work to intensify prevention against sexual violence, he said.

Majority in favor of resignation of entire bishops' conference

In their message, the bishops thank "all those who have the courage to tell of their suffering". They also quote a 39-year-old woman from the documentary "Just Don't Tell Anyone" who was abused by a priest as a child. The film shown on the video platform YouTube and on television was already seen by about every second adult Pole, according to a survey.

According to the report, a majority of 54 percent favored the resignation of the entire bishops' conference. In response to the film, the government announced the creation of a commission to investigate child sexual abuse in the church, sports and other areas.

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