Symbol image abuse © Harald Oppitz (KNA)
The Catholic Church in Poland has for the first time provided accurate information on the extent of clergy sexual abuse. Bishops wrapped up their spring plenary meeting in Warsaw on Thursday.
Alleged 382 priests and religious abused minors, according to church files created from January 1990 to June 2018. This was announced by the Polish Bishops' Conference in Warsaw at the end of its spring plenary session. According to the statement, the files include reports on cases dating back to 1950. Of the 625 victims, 345 were under 15 years old, he said.
Poland's Primate Archbishop Wojciech Polak, referring to all those affected, said, "Each of these victims should awaken in us clergy pain, shame and guilt that this situation has occurred." He said it was "a shock that hurts the whole communion of the Church".
Ten percent of the clergy acquitted
58.4 percent of all victims are reported to be male, 41.6 percent female. Three-quarters of the 362 known ecclesiastical trials against the clergy have already been completed, he said. In the process, one in four priests had been dismissed from the clerical profession. Another 40 percent have been suspended, admonished, or banned from working with minors, according to the bishops' conference.
Ten percent of the clergy have been acquitted, he said. In 42 percent of cases, the minors would have reported the abuse to the church themselves, and in 21 percent their relatives would have reported it. In six percent, the church learned about it from state organs and in five percent of cases from the media.
The Polish Bishops' Conference had inquired about the cases of abuse among the dioceses and religious congregations in the past months. The church's statistics institute and the child protection center established by the bishops' conference analyzed data for the study.
In Poland, in the fall of 2018, the motion picture "Clergy" had increased prere on the Church. He denounced child sexual abuse by priests and its cover-up. More than five million viewers made it the most-watched movie in Poland since 2000.
The church apologized to abuse victims several times on public occasions. At a penitential service in 2014, Bishop Piotr Libera said in the name of the Bishops' Conference: "Ashamed and remorseful, we ask for forgiveness"."