In connection with the broadcast on March 6, 2023, of a report by editor Marcin Gutowski in the series „Bielmo” concerning the actions of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła during the period when he was Metropolitan of Krakow, I have requested a competent commentary from Fr. Adam Żak SJ and Fr. Piotr Studnicki, that is, persons representing the relevant institutions subject to the Polish Bishops’ Conference responsible for the system for the protection of minors and the defenseless and assistance to victims of sexual abuse, developed by the Church in Poland. I publish below the submitted commentary.
Leszek Gęsiak SJ
Spokesperson for the Polish Bishops’ Conference
Fr. Żak and Fr. Studnicki: a fair assessment of Wojtyła’s actions requires further archival research
Questions from journalists found us during a three-day training for priests and nuns accompanying those harmed by sexual abuse, which is centered on the issue of abuse in the spiritual sphere.
The next episode of the documentary series „Bielmo” by editor Marcin Gutowski presents cases of sexual abuse crimes committed by clergy who were confronted by Krakow Metropolitan Karol Wojtyła.
Two of the cases presented – Fr. Surgent and Fr. Loranc – had already been known to the public for several months thanks to the journalistic work of editors Tomasz Krzyżak and Piotr Litka, which was based mainly on an analysis of the files of state criminal proceedings available in the archives of the Institute of National Remembrance. The findings have already been widely reported.
The third of these, the case of Fr. Saduś, was presented not on the basis of a prosecutorial or judicial investigation, but on the files of the security services of the People’s Republic of Poland. On the basis of the sources presented in the film, it is impossible to determine the qualification of the acts attributed to Fr. Saduś. It is worth remembering that according to canon law at the time, absolute protection was given to persons under the age of 16, and not, as currently – since 2001 – under the age of 18.
Today we undoubtedly have a much greater social awareness of the consequences of sexual abuse, and in the Church, we have developed procedures and ways to respond and help. To all those who were harmed in this way by the clergy years ago, and still bear the consequences of the evil experienced, we as the Church provide acceptance, listening, and support. For details, visit zgloskrzywde.pl.
Whereas, determining the role and a fair assessment of the decisions and actions of the Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Krakow Karol Wojtyła, as well as a fair explanation of the allegations against Cardinal Adam Sapieha, requires further archival research.
Fr. Adam Żak, SJ, Coordinator of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for the Protection of Minors
Fr. Piotr Studnicki, Director of the Office of the Delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for the Protection of Children and Youth.
Translated by Sr. Amata Nowaszewska / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference