The Polish Bishops’ President covered up for and re-employed a pedophile suspended from the priesthood.
Driving the news
The priest abuser, known for legal reasons as Krzysztof G., was removed from the priesthood in October 2018 following a guilty verdict in an internal church investigation into pedophilia allegations.
Krzysztof G. was accused of the sexual abuse of altar boy Szymon Bączkowski on dozens of occasions between 2001 and 2013, starting from when Bączkowski was in his early teens.
The former priest allegedly led the boy into the woods, gave him alcohol, hit him and raped him.
Krzysztof G. was formally charged last month for those alleged crimes, with the prosecution arguing for the aggravating factors of the priest having abused his power over the altar boy and later having exploited Bączkowski’s financial difficulties and drinking problems.
At the time Krzysztof G. was suspended from the priesthood, in October 2018, his Poznań diocese hailed his removal as an exemplary response from a Church seeking to cleanse itself of the clergy sex abuse scandal.
But just a month later – in November 2018 – the Archbishop of Poznań and President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Stanisław Gądecki, re-employed Krzysztof G. as a diocesan archivist, according to a report from Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.
The cover-up came to light when upon being indicted last month prosecutors asked the pedophile priest for his place of work.
Between the lines
Despite continuing as a diocesan archivist for over a year, Krzysztof G.’s re-employment in a Church position was only ever intended as an interim solution until the pedophile priest found other work, explained Poznań archdiocese spokesman Maciej Szczepaniak.
As hard as that it is to believe, Szczepaniak also tried to argue that working in the archives Krzysztof G. was hardly likely to have access to further potential victims.
“This type of work in a place without contact with children or young people does not carry any threats and is also a form of social prevention”, the spokesman argued.
Gazeta Wyborcza also claimed that, at the same time it was re-employing Krzysztof G., the Poznań archdiocese and its bishop and priests “did everything so as not to help prosecutors in their investigation” into the priest abuser.
Not only did Poznań archbishop Gądecki and his priests refuse to answer civil investigators’ questions on church protocols with suspected pedophiles.
Gądecki, too, also refused to share files with the prosecutor’s office, alleging that they were in the Vatican.
That type of non-cooperation with civil authorities is exactly the loophole Pope Francis closed last month with his decree putting an end to the “pontifical secret” that imposes strict confidentiality on clergy abuse cases.
Why it matters
Survivor Bączkowski was furious to hear of the Poznań archdiocese’s treatment of his abuser, saying “I can’t believe it… it’s science fiction to me” and denying archdiocesan claims that it had offered to pay for therapy for him.
The victim’s lawyer, Artur Nowak, also blasted the Church for its handling of the case, lamenting that “it would be good if the Church helped victims with the same fervour that can be seen in its support for perpetrators”.
For the record
The conspiracy and negligence around pedophile priest Krzysztof G. is the second time in two months that Archbishop Gądecki has come under fire for his insensitivity in cases of clergy sex abuse.
In November last year, Gądecki had planned to bury former archbishop Juliusz Paetz in the archdiocese’s cathedral, despite the fact that Paetz had been accused of molesting seminary students and young priests.
Gądecki was eventually forced to back away from his plans after a number of local priests, politicians and other public figures expressed their “indignation” at Gądecki’s planned “rehabilitation and exculpation of the archbishop [Paetz]”.
They also accused Gądecki – by keeping Paetz’s file sealed – of “permanently poisoning our Church, detracting from its credibility and trust, and sowing uncertainty and division among the faithful and the clergy”.