A support organisation for people who survived sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests has published a list of potential candidates for Pope, who it says should not be considered for the post because they have all, in one way or another, denied that child abuse happens, or defended the Church’s stance on it.
None of those who made the ‘dirty dozen’ list of 12 are Polish – so why is this the lead story on Inside-Poland.com today?
The majority of Poles are Catholic. A study by the Centre for Research in Public Opinion (Centrum Badania Opinii Społecznej) in 2012 found that 94 per cent of Polish people consider themselves religious. However, the same study found that almost half (46 per cent) do not go to church each week.
So, many Poles have faith, but they do not feel that they need the Church to act as middleman when they commune with their god. This combination of faith and a lack of love for the institution of the Church gives Poland a great strength in the fight against the undeniable paedophilia in the Church, and a voice that the faithful in Poland can and should make heard.
Those on the list drawn up by SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) have all in some way denied, tried to justify, or questioned the degree of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests. The Church in Poland has taken the laudable step of announcing a zero tolerance policy to abuse – but a book published recently in Polish and English suggests otherwise. The fact that there are no Polish priests on the lists is definitely in favour of the statement by the Polish church.
Faith, in any form, comes from within. If you have a god, you have a god – you don’t need a man in Rome to tell you about it.
Does that same faith tell you that denial or defence of child abuse should be as abhorrent as the denial of the Holocaust? Who do you defend, the accused (until proven guilty) or the victims (unequivocally)?
Kraków’s Kardynał Stanisław Dziwisz sent a letter to churches at the start of Lent, applauding those members of the Polish Sejm who voted against civil partnership. The letter – though by its political nature somewhat at odds with the biblical idea that one should not be ‘doing business’ in the temple – was heard by and influenced tens of thousands. Another letter, in defence of abuse victims rather than their tormentors… well, that would take a lot of courage.
The church in Poland may not have such courage – especially as Kardynał Dziwisz is first and foremost a member of a political system. The faithful in Poland, however, almost certainly do have that courage.