Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz (archive) © CBA
Poland's state child sexual abuse processing commission has reported Krakow Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz and three other bishops to the Prosecutor General's Office. What are they accused of?
There are suspicions that Dziwisz, Bishop Roman Pindel of Bielsko-Zywiec (Bielitz-Saybusch), as well as his predecessor Tadeusz Rakoczy and his auxiliary bishop Piotr Greger, disregarded the legal obligation to report sexual crimes. That's according to a letter from the commission dated 4. March to the lawyer of a victim of abuse highlighted by the private news channel TVN24 (Thursday) published on its website.
Necessary steps not taken
His client, Janusz Szymik, had told the panel at a non-public meeting in mid-February that he had been abused by a priest for five years as a child in the 1980s in the southern Polish diocese of Bielsko-Zywiec. He reported the perpetrator years later, first to the then local bishop Rakoczy and then, about ten years ago, with the support of the priest Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, to the then Krakow Archbishop Dziwisz.
The latter served as metropolitan in charge of the Bielsko-Zywiec diocese. But the clergy would not have taken the necessary steps.
The bishops reject the accusations. In Poland, since 2017, people who receive "credible" information about certain crimes must "immediately" notify the police or prosecutor's office. If they fail to do so, they face up to three years in prison.
The Krakow prosecutor's office had dismissed a criminal complaint against Dziwisz in January. The 81-year-old cardinal had not committed any crime, because at the time, from 2006 to 2012, he was not legally obliged to report such allegations against priests to the police or the public prosecutor's office.
Caused a sensation
The case had already caused a stir in the fall. Dziwisz had announced then that he wanted to meet with Szymik. However, Szymik told the TV station that a meeting has not yet taken place. 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.
Since November, the state commission set up by the Polish parliament has been investigating cases of abuse reported to it from the fields of education, culture, leisure and sport, as well as from religious communities. 53 of the 190 cases handled so far involved clergymen.