Lamenting “we can no longer remain silent”, Polish Catholics are pleading with Pope Francis to take “immediate and unequivocal” action on the “outrageous scale of abuse” in the Church in the country.
– A warning to Francis “”Many of the faithful” are frustrated with Vatican inaction
Dosc krzywdy (“Enough Harm”), a group of lay Catholics from dioceses all over Poland, made its appeal to the pontiff Monday in a full-page advertisement in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The ad in the Rome daily echoed an online petition organised by the group, in which the Polish Catholics implored the pope: “Rebuild our Church! We are begging you!”
‘Enough Harm’ urged Francis to “look with care” at the Polish Church, where according to the laypeople bishops are “hiding cases of pedophilia” and holding to an institutional loyalty that is “blind, deaf and more important than the victims”.
The Polish Catholics denounced that the behaviour of bishops involved in sex abuse cover-ups “harms the Church” and strikes at its unity, “creating divisions between those who care for the institution and those who care for victims”.
“Many of the faithful feel that the Vatican is allowing this to happen”, ‘Enough Harm’ warned Pope Francis, urging him to act now to “compensate for the harm” and to make “redress” for the sex crimes and their whitewashing.
– “Those who dare to reveal the truth are treated as the enemies of the Church”
Without mincing words and with their names and surnames attached to their petition, ‘Enough Harm’ said it was launching its appeal to the Pope to stop the rot among the Polish episcopate in order to “actively build and take responsibility” for a Church based on Christ’s words: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Far from being a Church in which bishops compensate sex abuse survivors for their suffering – or are even conscious of their pain – the Polish Church today is rife with the “evil” of pedophilia, cover-ups, violence and bullying among priests and simony, Dosc krzywdy deplored.
Despite having previously sent letters and petitions to Church officials, and even organised protests, the Polish Catholics decried that their bishops and even the nuncio in the country are continuing to hold to their code of silence, for which reason the faithful said they were now organising the media offensive.
“Despite all our actions, the Church seems not to see the range of abuse and remains silent”, the members of ‘Enough Harm’ lamented, adding that that silence “shows that it is more important for our bishops to protect an institution than to take care of the victims”.
The prelates’ contempt for Catholics in the pews “also shows that clericalism supersedes care for the community of faithful”, affirmed the laypeople, who also alleged that “those who dare to reveal the truth about the situation in [the] Polish Church are treated as the enemies of the Church and their actions are shown as [an] attack on the Church”.
Dosc krzywdy concluded its petition begging the Pope “to examine” the situation of the Church in Poland.
“We do not pass judgments, but we ask for [an] immediate and unequivocal reaction in order to prevent the disintegration of the community of [the] faithful, [and] also to prevent the destruction of [the] work for evangelism and preaching of the Gospel. Holy Father, please help us!”, the Polish Catholics urged the pontiff.
In their appeal to the Pope, the Polish Catholics complained specifically about two bishops who are facing allegations that have already been aired publicly – Archbishop of Gdansk Slawoj Leszek Glodz, who has been accused of bullying and trafficking in Church offices, and Bishop of Kalisz Edward Janiak, who allegedly ignored victims and shuffled around pedophile priests, and who has been sidelined by the Vatican while an investigation takes place.
The Vatican has also this week authorised an investigation into a seminary in Kielce, according to the Associated Press.
In a statement to the AP, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the Pope “was informed” about the ‘Enough Harm’ appeal “and prays for those who sent it”.
“The church must do everything possible so that canonical norms are applied, that cases of abuse are brought to light and those guilty of the crimes are punished”, Bruni added.