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Vatican: Accusations against Polish Catholic bishops’ leader groundless

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, pictured in Warsaw Feb. 12, 2020 Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, pictured in Warsaw Feb. 12, 2020./ episkopat.pl.

The Vatican has ruled that accusations of negligence against the president of the Polish bishops’ conference are groundless.

A statement published June 8 by the apostolic nunciature in the Polish capital, Warsaw, said that the Vatican had investigated allegations that Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki behaved negligently in two cases of clerical abuse against minors.

The Vatican investigated the claims under the norms of the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, issued by Pope Francis in 2019 for an experimental period of three years.

“Acting on the basis of the provisions of the Code of Canon Law and Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, the Holy See, following formal notifications, has conducted an investigation into the alleged negligence of Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki in cases of sexual abuse committed against minors by one priest of the Archdiocese of Poznań and one priest of the Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec,” the statement said.

“After a thorough analysis of the documentation gathered, the Holy See has found the above accusations to be unfounded, and therefore the complaints filed in these cases are dismissed and the proceedings are considered closed.”

Gądecki, 71, has served as the archbishop of Poznań since 2002. He was elected president of the Polish bishops’ conference in 2014 and for a second term in 2019. He is vice-president of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE).

The Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec in southern Poland is in the ecclesiastical province of Kraków. The Vatican imposed penalties last month on retired Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, bishop of Bielsko-Żywiec from 1992 to 2013.

The Archdiocese of Kraków announced May 28 that the Vatican had taken the step following an investigation conducted under the norms of Vos estis.

The Vatican has authorized a series of Vos estis investigations of Polish bishops.

The pope accepted the resignation in May of Bishop Jan Tyrawa, who was investigated for negligence in handling cases of sexual abuse by priests in his diocese.

Tyrawa, bishop of the Diocese of Bydgoszcz, in northern Poland, since 2004, was accused of knowing about the abusive tendencies of one of his priests and yet of having transferred him from parish to parish, rather than removing him from situations with minors.

The apostolic nunciature in Poland announced in March that the Vatican had sanctioned two retired bishops after canonical inquiries into accusations that they were negligent in their handling of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź, archbishop of Gdańsk from 2008 to 2020, and Bishop Edward Janiak, who led the Diocese of Kalisz from 2012 to 2020, were ordered by the Holy See to live outside their former dioceses and told they cannot participate in public liturgies or non-religious gatherings within the territory of the dioceses.

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The Vatican also imposed disciplinary measures on 97-year-old Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz in November 2020.

The churchman, who served as archbishop of Wrocław, in southwest Poland, from 1976 to 2004, was prohibited from attending any celebrations or public meetings. He was also forbidden to use bishops’ insignia.

He died 10 days after the sanctions were announced.

In 2019, the Polish bishops’ conference issued a report which concluded that 382 clergy sexually abused a total of 624 victims between 1990 and 2018.

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