The Church is facing a reckoning on clergy sex abuse in Poland and France with the punishment of a cardinal and the publication of a new report.

– Vatican bans Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, 97, from public ministry, requires him to pay reparations

In a statement issued at 12 noon on Friday, the Apostolic Nunciature in Poland announced that Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz – one of the oldest cardinals in the country, at 97 – has been subjected to penal measures on account of his abuse of minors.

The Archbishop Emeritus of Wrocław has been accused of harassment, homosexual acts and collaboration with the communist-era security service.

The statement issued by the Nunciature said that “following the investigation into the accusations made against Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, and after analysing other accusations concerning the cardinal’s cardinal’s past, the Holy See has taken the following disciplinary decisions against him: [the cardinal] is forbidden from participating in any public celebration or meeting, is forbidden from using episcopal insignia, and is prohibited from a funeral service and burial in the cathedral”.

Additionally, Cardinal Gulbinowicz will be required to pay “an adequate some of money in the form of a donation for the activities of the St. Joseph Foundation, established by the Polish Bishops’ Conference for victims of sexual abuse and their psychological assistance, the prevention [of abuse] and the education of those responsible for the protection of minors”.

– French Bishops say 320 people presented accusations against the Church between September 2018, September 2020

In the meantime, a new report on the fight against sexual abuse in the Church was presented to the bishops of France November 5, on the third day of their plenary assembly.

Dominique Blanchet, the Bishop of Belfort-Montbéliard and Vice-President of the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF), reported that 320 people came forward with allegations of sex abuse between September 2018 and September 2020, in 20 dioceses.

The new report on pedophilia in the French Church – the third in a series dating back to October 2017 – is, like its predecessors, largely the work of the Independent Commission on the Sexual Abuse of Minors in the Catholic Church (Ciase), which since it was set up in 2018 has identified some 3,500 survivors of priestly pedophilia since 1950.

In a speech to the Bishops’ assembly, Blanchet highlighted some data from the new report, including that of the 320 cases reported between 2018 and 2020, the Church sent 110 files to prosecutors.

Of the 191 perpetrators accused since September 2018, 8 have been formally indicted (6 diocesan priests and 2 religious); 4 diocesan priests and 1 religious have been imprisoned, and 2 diocesan priests, 1 religious and 1 layman have served their sentences.

With regard to financial assistance for survivors, the Vice President of the French Episcopate explained that “the question is still under debate”, but he clarified that it is a question of the Bishops quantifying a “concrete gesture” which demonstrates “the commitment and closeness of the Church”.

The bishops of France have been attempting to come to terms with the problem of pedophilia within the Church since at least November 2000. In April 2016, they created a permanent commission for the prevention of abuse, a step which led, in October 2017, to the publication of a first report on pedophilia in the Church’s ranks that identified 222 survivors that had come forward between 2010 and 2016.

A second report on priestly pedophilia published in October 2018 reported that 211 survivors presented accusations of abuse between January 2017 and October 2018.

The CEF has attributed the growth in reports from the second and third reports on pedophilia in the Church to the creation of more support groups in dioceses, increased access to judicial mechanisms and the permanent media coverage of sexual abuse cases.

(With reporting by Vatican News)

More on Novena on the fight against clergy sex abuse:

Majority of Poles – even Catholics – think Church plays negative role in public life: survey

German priest denounces “sexualised violence” in Church, blames phenomenon on “male-paternal patterns of dominance”

Young Catholic leader denounces “extremely dangerous” Church “premise of entitlement and control”

Journalist denounces lack of Vatican will to stamp out sexual and spiritual abuse of nuns by clerics


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.