A priest celebrates the Mass

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

The Polish bishops are fighting the “LGBT indoctrination” of IKEA. But victims are demanding they fight the sex abuse crisis in the Polish Church.

One commentator has warned the sex abuse crisis could be a “point of no return” for the Polish Catholic Church.

Driving the news

Columnist for Polityka weekly Adam Szostkiewicz told the BBC that Poles are increasingly fed up with the Church. He said Poles want to make the bishops pay for the sex abuse crisis.

“This process will take time, but for me, it’s a point of no return for the Church,” said Szostkiewicz.

“But for some Poles, if they lose the Church, it’s like they lose a part of themselves. They prefer to close their eyes”.

“They see the Church as their mother, and you cannot say bad things about your mother”.

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Polish Church sex abuse: the big picture

Church sex abuse in Poland has been a talking point since a documentary on the topic, Don’t Tell Anyone, was seen twenty million times within a week of its release in May.

90% of Poles are Catholic. But 67% of Polish people believe the Church’s response to the sex abuse crisis has been inadequate.

87% say the Church’s authority has been damaged because of the sex abuse crisis.

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Why it matters

The Church has long been untouchable in Poland. Since Russian, Prussian and Austrian occupation in the 19th century it has been a bastion for national values and identity.

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After World War II, the Church gave cover to movements such as Solidarity seeking to overthrow the Communist dictatorship.

Monika’s experience is typical. The 28-year-old told the BBC her parents saw priests “as heroes, people who were fighting against the devil himself”.

The same “heroes” who abused her in exorcism rites all over the country.

What’s next

A victims’ foundation, Have No Fear, is pushing for a law that would enable survivors of clergy sex abuse to sue their aggressors. The association also wants an independent truth and justice commission to investigate Polish Church sex abuse.

The Polish Government, run by the conservative Law and Justice party, is setting up the commission. But politicians will name the commission members, not independent experts.

In the days following the release of Don’t Tell Anyone, the Polish bishops admitted they had not done enough to prevent clergy sex abuse.

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“There are no words to express our shame”, they said.

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