Vatican confirms probe of negligence claims against Polish Cardinal Dziwisz

Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, pictured in Rome April 25, 2014 Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, pictured in Rome April 25, 2014./ Kyle Burkhart/CNA.

The apostolic nunciature in Poland confirmed Saturday that the Vatican sent Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco to investigate negligence claims against Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.

The nunciature made the announcement June 26 following reports in the Polish and Italian media about a Vatican probe concerning the former aide to St. John Paul II.

It said: “Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the retired Archbishop of Genoa, visited Poland on June 17-26 at the request of the Holy See.”

“The purpose was to verify the indicated, also publicly, negligence of Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz during his term as metropolitan archbishop of Kraków (2005-2016).”

“Cardinal Bagnasco familiarized himself with the documents and held a number of meetings, and will present an account of the visit to the Holy See.”

Dziwisz, 82, served as personal secretary to John Paul II until the Polish pope’s death in 2005. He was then appointed archbishop of Kraków, retiring in 2016.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, said in November 2020 that allegations against Dziwisz aired in a television program should be clarified by the Vatican.

Gądecki made the comment in response to the program “Don Stanislao: The other face of Cardinal Dziwisz,” shown on TVN24, a Polish commercial news channel.

The 82-minute program, presented by journalist Marcin Gutowski, accused the former personal secretary of St. John Paul II of failing to investigate clerical abuse allegations.

Gądecki said he hoped that “any doubts presented in this report will be clarified by the relevant commission of the Holy See.”

In a Nov. 9 statement, Dziwisz said that he wanted to see the allegations clarified in a transparent manner.

“It is not about whitewashing or hiding possible negligence, but about honestly presenting the facts,” he said. “The victims’ welfare is of paramount importance. Children and young people can never again suffer in the Church the wrongs that took place in the past.”

“I am ready to fully cooperate with an independent commission that will clarify these issues.”

A Polish prosecutor announced in January that he saw no grounds for an investigation into allegations that Dziwisz failed to report claims of clerical abuse.

A spokesman for the District Prosecutor’s Office in Kraków told Polish media on Jan. 21 that the prosecutor had decided that there was no basis for an investigation after assessing information submitted by Łukasz Kohut, a member of the European Parliament, in the wake of the documentary.

The Polish Catholic Church is in the midst of a reckoning on clerical abuse. 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.

Since November 2020, the Vatican has disciplined a series of mainly retired Polish bishops after investigations under Pope Francis’ 2019 motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

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The Vatican took action Friday against a further two bishops after investigations into their handling of clerical abuse cases.

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

Gądecki, the Polish bishops’ conference president, was also the subject of a Vos estis probe that found that the accusations of negligence against him were groundless.

Poland’s Catholic bishops are due to make their “ad limina” visit to Rome in October.

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