Poland’s most senior Archbishop referred a child sex abuse case to the Vatican on May 17th. Following the release of a Youtube documentary from Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, Archbishop Wojciech Polak has called on the Vatican to launch proceedings against Bishop Edward Janiak. The film alleges that Janiak knew about the allegations for years, but failed to take any action.
“I ask priests, nuns, parents and educators to not be led by the false logic of shielding the Church, effectively hiding sexual abusers,” Polak said. “There is no place among the clergy to sexually abuse minors. We do not allow for the hiding of these crimes.”
A place of worship should be a safe place for everyone. The number of alleged and accused clergy members is drastic. In 2014, the Vatican revealed that there had been over 3,400 sexual abuse cases since 2004. That number is too large and only accounts for reported cases. Six years have passed since the Vatican revealed those numbers. Who knows how many more sexual abuses have occurred since then? Who knows how many victims have spoken out about their abuses?
This time last year, the Sekielski brothers released their first documentary on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, entitled “Tell No One,” which has 23 million views. Around the same time as the first documentary was released, Pope Francis made it mandatory for Roman Catholic clergy to report cases of sexual abuse and cover up by clergy members to the Church.
The documentary also prompted the Polish government to change the maximum prison sentence for pedophiles from 12 years to 30 years. The age of consent was also changed from 15 to 16.
In April 2019, the Church in Poland released statistics of sex abuse in the church. The study found that from 1990 to mid-2018, the church received abuse reports about 382 priests. The study also found that 625 children were sexually abused by members of the clergy during this time.
In December 2019, Pope Francis abolished the rule of pontifical secrecy, or a confidentiality code that kept sensitive information private.
Thomasz Sekielski said that the first film changed the public’s awareness of the issue, and that the public can no longer pretend that child sex abuse is something that happens only in the West.
Poland is celebrating what would have been Pope St. John Paul II’s 100th birthday. However, the film has put a damper on celebrations. Sekielski said the third documentary will cover the “role of John Paul II in the dissimulation of crimes committed by priests.”
Polish documentaries concerning issues that stem from Polish clergy, from priests to Pope St. John Paul II, will hopefully shake the Polish church more than documentaries from an outsider would. With such high viral success, the second documentary already has almost seven-million views, the film will prompt further discussion. Although Pope St. John Paul II would have been 100 today, it is never too late to consider the wrongdoings of his clergy.