A documentary film got the ball rolling: Bishop of Kalisz alleged to have covered up sexual abuse. Now Pope Francis has acted and put Bishop Edward Janiak on leave of absence. The defends itself however with counter reproaches.
For several weeks now, a scandal involving Bishop Edward Janiak has been causing a stir in Poland. Since mid-May, several million people have watched the documentary "The Hide-and-Seek Game" on the Youtube video platform.
In it, the 67-year-old bishop of the central Polish city of Kalisz is accused of having done nothing about a priest who sexually abused children – even though their parents informed Janiak about it in 2016.
Now Pope Francis has suspended the bishop and appointed an interim head for the diocese, according to the Vatican nunciature in Warsaw on Thursday.
Pope withdraws all powers from bishop
The Archbishop of Lodz, Grzegorz Rys (56), received as Apostolic Administrator "sede plena" all powers to lead the diocese of Kalisz. Janiak was ordered to stay outside the diocese of Kalisz during the investigation into possible failings, the nunciature said. This means that he "cannot intervene in any way in the administration of the diocese of Kalisz".
In early June, the Vatican's Congregation of Bishops had instructed Poznan Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, as the metropolitan in charge, to investigate the allegations against Janiak. The investigation continues.
Bishop accused, among other things, of not informing Vatican of abuse allegations against priest.
Janiak protests against investigation
Janiak rejects the accusations. In mid-June, he also wrote this to many fellow bishops. The letter was leaked to the newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" and published by it. The bishop complains bitterly about Poland's Primate Archbishop Wojciech Polak, who immediately after the publication of the film had initiated an investigation by the Vatican.
Polak is also Child Protection Officer of the Polish Bishops' Conference. Polak has damaged the reputation of the Church, caused great confusion and prejudged him, protests Janiak in his letter.
Bishop doubts legality of foundation
But that's not all: Janiak also claimed that the primate had not been duly elected as child protection commissioner.
His appointment was forced instead, he said. In addition, there had been manipulations in the establishment of the "Saint Joseph Foundation" of the Bishops' Conference for victims of sexual abuse. The majority of bishops would have voted against the creation of the foundation, but the result had been changed to a positive vote.
Responsibility for education lies with the Holy See
The Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference, Bishop Artur Mizinski, denied this, as did Polak. After the documentary, he "could not remain silent or inactive," the primate referred to Vatican regulations. Janiak has in the procedure, "a real chance to present his arguments in his defense". The evaluation of the case lies exclusively in the competence of the Holy See. Polak stressed that he was concerned about the well-being of the victims and the true well-being of the Church.
Most recently, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported that Janiak had come to the Kalisz clinic in early June with a suspected stroke. There, however, they had only determined that he was heavily intoxicated: 3.44 per mille resulted in the Meng.