Warsaw (AFP) – Polish Catholic bishops apologised Monday to children who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests and other Church leaders in the majority Catholic country.
“We ask pardon of God, of all victims of sexual abuse, of their families, and of the entire Church community for all hurt inflicted on children and young people, as well as their families, by priests, believers, and lay people employed by the Church,” the bishops said in a statement after a meeting in southern Poland.
“For the victims, these crimes are a source of profound suffering that marks their lives, those of their families, and of religious communities,” they added.
For many, “it put a strain on their faith”.
The statement came three weeks after the release of the film “Kler” (The Clergy) about abuse and corruption in the Catholic Church. The movie drew close to two million spectators in Poland in a week — a record in the country of 38 million.
The bishops committed to fighting “this evil”, by making sure that the accused in all “confirmed” abuse cases are referred to prosecutors.
The Polish Catholic Church apologised four years ago for crimes of paedophilia committed by its members.
According to the victim’s association “Don’t be afraid”, there have been 56 convictions in recent years, including for possession of child pornography.
The Catholic Church worldwide is battling a paedophilia scandal following abuse revelations in numerous countries, accompanied by accusations that the leadership has dragged its feet in delivering an adequate response.
Earlier Monday, Spain’s Catholic Church said it wanted to “eradicate” sexual abuse of minors and not cover them up.