Warsaw, Poland, May 24, 2019 / 10:34 am America/Denver (CNA).
The bishops of Poland are speaking out against sexual abuse, pledging to continue to “eliminate factors conducive to crime” as well as to adopt a more sensitive attitude toward victims than in the past.
“We admit that as shepherds of the Church we have not done everything to prevent these harms,” the bishop’s conference of Poland wrote in a May 22 letter to be read at Masses May 26.
“For many believers, especially for young people sincerely seeking God, sexual scandals involving clergy become a hard test of faith and a reason for great scandal. Disappointment and indignation is all the bigger and more painful that children, instead of caring love and accompaniment in seeking the nearness of Jesus, experienced violence and brutal depravation [sic] of the dignity of the child.”
The bishops’ May 22 letter was prompted, in part, by a documentary released on YouTube earlier this month which presents allegations that abusive priests were shifted between parishes, and shows people confronting elderly priests alleged to have abused them as children. The film has nearly 21 million views.
The motion picture has prompted a national conversation in Poland, with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling Law and Justice party, promising harsher punishment for child abusers in reaction to the film, floating the idea of 30-year prison sentences.