Polish Episcopate in its communication No 357 of 14 March 2012, presented in 8 points the current position of the Church in relation to: year of the faith, concern for humanity, common good, Church Fund, religion classes at schools, bioethical law. In addition, the Episcopate expressed its support to TV Trwam (TV channel owned by the Warsaw Province of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) and thanked for the help provided to the homeless during this cold winter (but only for the help provided by Caritas charity). Nothing about Church’s attitude towards pedophilia.
But the president of the Conference, Archbishop Jozef Michalik, refers to this problem taking for the genesis of the document “the defense of the weakest”. Further reading creates some uncertainty as to whether the Bishop is referring to his colleague, a pedophile priest, or to a bullied child. Archbishop Michalik declares zero tolerance for such behavior, but does not condemn the crime. He categorically denies compensation to victims of the Church and possibility of cooperation in the prosecution of offenders. In the language of the Church it is called the absolute secrecy of confession and spiritual direction’s secrecy.
I haven’t heard such an arrogant and cynical position of the clergy since a long, long time. Pedophilia in the priest-child relations dimension is particularly drastic. This is not only the crime that should be pursued by the state, but also a heinous sin that should be condemned by the Church. Church should also make reparation for that harm. Meanwhile, the institution refers victims to the perpetrators. This means that the victim (now probably adult) must furnish evidence against the tormentor in a cassock, for example, through the testimony of witnesses, if such existed. Even if the charge is laid, and the court will give him confidence, the judgment does not necessarily mean any compensation.
In the Polish reality of small parishes and the Church’s social position, this position means that the bishops will be hiding the perpetrators and will not help the victims. It’s outrageous behavior in the context of the attitude of Catholic Church in other countries, where compensation was paid. But, as said the spokesman of the Episcopate Joseph Kloch: “Please do not transfer customs from other countries to Poland.” For the finishing touch, Archbishop Michalik firmly emphasized the right to defend the good name of the accused – “You can not believe every anonymous letter”.
Finally, we must remember that there wouldn’t be any comment without Vatican, which, in a special circular, demanded all the individual countries to adopt the position on the matter.