The “biggest ever” trial of a pedophile priest in Poland is again pointing up the national Church’s negligence on the clerical sex abuse of children.

– 22 alleged victims

Notes from Poland reported February 20 on the case of a priest – known only as Marian W., for legal reasons – who has been accused of the abuse of 22 boys.

The cleric went on trial this week in Nowy Targ, in the south of Poland, but charged only with aggressions towards 11 of the minors, due to the expiration of the statute of limitations on the cases of his other alleged victims.

The alleged abuse took place between 2003 and 2012, and seven of Marian W.’s victims in this trial were under the age of 15 at the time of his offending.

Three of those minors Marian W. allegedly preyed upon have since developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

– Victim: “The priest is an authority, a person one must not say anything bad about”

According to Nowy Sącz district prosecutors, Marian W.’s alleged crimes against the boys took place on camping trips from villages in the highlands of the Małopolska province where the priest had served in ministry since being ordained in the 1970s.

One alleged victims told website Onet:

“Unfortunately, in the mountains it was instilled into kids that the priest is an authority, a person one must not say anything bad about.

“It’s possible that this conviction still exists, which in my case made me ambivalent in my feelings and for a long time certain that no one would believe me”.

– Church cover-up

According to TVN24, the Tarnów diocese to which Marian W. belongs first received complaints about the priest in 2013, but sat on them as the alleged victims apparently did not want to testify.

It was only after receiving another complaint against Marian W. that the Church was forced to act on the claims, depriving the pedophile priest of his charge, banning from working with children, placing him under supervision and sending him for treatment, all while stopping short of defrocking him.

“The priest was moved from parish to parish and went unpunished. A beast left to feed”, said the lawyer for a number of Marian W.’s alleged victims, Artur Nowak.

“In my view this is the biggest paedophile trial concerning a priest. Perhaps more victims will come forward, because sometimes when a case goes public…a victim realises that he is not at fault, is not alone, and has nothing to be ashamed of”.

– Church tries to atone, but still no apologies

Archbishop of Gniezno, Primate of Poland and Delegate for the Protection of Children and Youth of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Wojciech Polak, affirmed last week that the Polish Bishops “undertake systematic support for people wounded in the Church”.

Polak admitted that the Church “has made mistakes in the matter of pedophilia” but is now training clergy to “change how they think and act” on the abuse issue.

Lawyer Nowak said he welcomed the Church’s attempted at making amends for Marian W. and other pedophile priests’ crimes, but noted that those attempts still have not extended to saying sorry for the suffering of survivors.

“On the one hand we hear lots of platitudes saying that the church is concerned, but…these people are not cared for at all. Nobody helps them or contacts them”, Nowak lamented.

Next on Novena:

Church in Poland can’t shake abuse negligence shadow despite damage control on alleged pedophile bishop

Vatican investigating serving Polish bishop for alleged abuse of 15-year-old girl

Polish Church plunges to new low in trust: just 39% have confidence in the institution

Polish Bishops’ President covered up for, re-employed pedophile suspended from priesthood

Polish court sentences diocese, parish, pedophile priest to pay victim thousands in compensation

Crisis in Polish Catholicism: only 7% of youth “fully trust” the Church

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Sex abuse crisis “a point of no return” for Polish Church


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