Vatican concludes inquiry into Polish Catholic bishop

Bishop Jan Szkodoń, auxiliary bishop of Kraków, Poland Bishop Jan Szkodoń, auxiliary bishop of Kraków, Poland./ Franciszek Salezy Nowak OFM via Wikimedia (Public Domain Mark 1.0).

The Vatican has concluded that sexual abuse accusations against a Polish Catholic bishop are “not proven.”

In a July 23 statement, the apostolic nunciature in the Polish capital, Warsaw, disclosed that Bishop Jan Szkodoń was the subject of an administrative penal process after he was accused of sexual abuse of a minor.

“After a thorough analysis of the evidence collected and after hearing the witnesses called, the guilt of Bishop Jan Szkodon was not proven (non constat),” the statement said.

“However, in the course of the proceedings, it was found that Bishop Jan Szkodoń acted imprudently towards the minor, by receiving her in his private apartment without the presence of her parents, who have known the bishop for years.”

Szkodoń, 74, an auxiliary bishop of Kraków archdiocese, was ordered to undertake a three-month closed retreat, “dedicated to reflection and prayer.”

The apostolic nunciature said that Szkodoń had already fulfilled this requirement as he had been living in seclusion since February 2020 -- when accusations against the bishop were published by a Polish magazine.

Since November 2020, the Vatican has disciplined a series of mainly retired Polish bishops after investigations.

Earlier this month, Archbishop Wiktor Skworc of Katowice, southern Poland, asked for a coadjutor following a Vatican probe into his handling of clerical abuse cases.

In June, Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski resigned as bishop of Legnica, southwestern Poland, days before his 75th birthday after a probe conducted according to the provisions of Pope Francis’ 2019 motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

That same month, the Vatican took action against the retired Bishop Stefan Regmunt and Bishop Stanisław Napierała.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, a former aide to St. John Paul II, is facing a Vatican investigation into claims that he mishandled abuse cases while serving as archbishop of Kraków from 2005 to 2016.

Italian and Polish media reported on July 23 that the investigation had found no evidence of neligence, but the conclusions of the inquiry have not been made public.

The Catholic Church in Poland announced last month that it had received 368 allegations of clerical abuse in the past two and a half years.

The claims relate to abuse reportedly committed by 292 priests and religious between 1958 and 2020.

A report released on June 28 by the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church said that the allegations were made between July 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2020.

The apostolic nunciature in Warsaw said on Friday that the files of the administrative penal process involving Szkodoń had been transferred to the Vatican.

“In the canonical forum, the case is to be considered as concluded and the penal decree as legally valid. The persons concerned have been duly informed of the completion of the canonical process,” it said.

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