Vatican takes action against two more retired Polish Catholic bishops

Bishop Stefan Regmunt Bishop Stefan Regmunt./ Stiopa via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The Vatican took action Friday against two more retired Polish bishops after investigations into their handling of clerical abuse cases.

The measures concerning Bishop Stefan Regmunt and Bishop Stanisław Napierała were announced June 25.

The Vatican imposed penalties on Regmunt but only issued recommendations for Napierała after finding that he showed “unintentional neglect” relating to one case.

Regmunt was the bishop of Zielona Góra-Gorzów, western Poland, from 2007 until his retirement in 2015 at the age of 64.

Napierała was bishop of Kalisz, central Poland, from 1992 until he stepped down in 2012 after turning 75, the typical retirement age for diocesan bishops.

A June 25 statement by Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Polish bishops’ conference delegate for the protection of children and youth, said that Regmunt was investigated for negligence relating to the sexual abuse of minors by two priests of the Zielona Góra-Gorzów diocese.

The probe took place according to the provisions of Code of Canon Law and Pope Francis’ 2019 motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

Polak said that the Vatican had forbidden Regmunt, who is now 70 years of age, from participating in any celebrations or public meetings in his former diocese. He is also prohibited from playing any role in the bodies of the Polish bishops’ conference.

He must also make a financial contribution to safeguarding efforts in Zielona Góra-Gorzów diocese.

A statement from the Archdiocese of Poznań said that Napierała was investigated for negligence connected to cases of sexual abuse committed against minors by two priests of the Kalisz diocese, which is located in the ecclesiastical province of Poznań.

The investigation also took place in accordance with the Code of Canon Law and Vos estis.

“After a thorough analysis of the collected documentation, the Holy See concluded that only in one of the above-mentioned cases there was unintentional neglect,” the statement said.

In light of this, the Vatican recommended that Napierała, now 84 years of age, makes a donation to the St. Joseph Foundation, established by the Polish bishops in October 2019 to support abuse victims and promote safeguarding.

It also suggested that he remain absent from public celebrations or events.

The measures are the latest in a series of steps taken against mainly retired bishops in Poland.

The Vatican imposed penalties last month on Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy after an investigation into his handling of abuse cases.

The 83-year-old served as bishop of Bielsko-Żywiec, in southern Poland, from 1992 to 2013, when he retired after his 75th birthday.

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Also in May, Pope Francis accepted the resignation 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.

The apostolic nunciature in Poland announced in March that the Vatican had sanctioned two retired bishops after canonical inquiries into accusations of negligence.

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.

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.

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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.