Polish FM hopes for "full cooperation" with Vatican over child abuse

2019-05-20 18:54 update: 2019-05-26, 08:20
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, after a Monday meeting with the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States Paul Gallagher, expressed hope that "full cooperation" between Poland and the Vatican will offer "remedies for victims" of child abuse in the Polish Church

During the meeting, Minister Czaputowicz expressed his grave concern over the reports of paedophilic crimes in the Polish Catholic Church and stressed the government's determination to severely punish the perpetrators and to relentlessly fight against the crime, the Polish Foreign Ministry said in a news release after the meeting.

According to the ministry, Czaputowicz pointed to Poland's recent legislative measures aimed to improve the prevention of such crimes and expressed hope that "full cooperation between Poland and the Holy See will provide remedies for the victims and will let the Church eradicate the phenomenon that casts a shadow over its mission."

Czaputowicz and Gallagher also reviewed bilateral relations, the future of the European Union and the situation of Christians across the world. The Polish minister outlined the Polish priorities for the country's presidency of the UN Security Council in August, which include an initiative to establish an international day to commemorate victims of religion-based violence, the ministry reported.

The Vatican's official also met with Polish Deputy PM and Culture Minister Piotr Gliński.

Gallagher's visit was connected with the 100th anniversary of reinstating diplomatic relations between Poland and the Vatican, the Culture Ministry said in its own news release. 

The ministry and the Pontifical Council for Culture are about to sign a document on bilateral cooperation for the protection and promotion of common historical and artistic heritage, the ministry also said.

The current heated debate regarding paedophilia in the Catholic Church in Poland was sparked off by the Polish documentary "Just don't tell anyone" by Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, documenting cases of the sexual exploitation of minors by members of the clergy.

The two-hour film contains interviews with the abused victims of priests, the record of confrontations between victims and priests, and conversations with a psychologist and lawyers, among other elements. It shows pictures of the protagonists years ago and the camera follows them on journeys to the places in which they were molested. 

In June, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who works on investigations into sexual abuse by clergy on behalf of the Holy See, will attend a plenary meeting of the Polish Bishops' Conference in Świdnica, southwestern Poland.

The Sejm (lower house) on Thursday evening passed a bill amending the Penal Code introducing tougher penalties for crimes related to paedophilia.

The bill lifts the statute of limitations and increases the maximum penalty for paedophilia-related crimes to 25-30 years. (PAP)