Polish Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, retired Archbishop of Wroclaw, died on 16th November, just 10 days after the publication of Vatican disciplinary measures against him related to sexual abuse.
Cardinal Gulbinowicz, who was 97 at the time of his death, had been hospitalised since 10th November.
The Vatican nunciature in Poland had announced on 6th November that, in accordance with a Vatican decision, the cardinal was banned from all public appearances and ordered to pay compensation to a fund for the victims of clerical sexual abuse. The notification also stipulated that his funeral could not be celebrated in the Wroclaw cathedral and that he was not to be buried there with his predecessors.
The announcement, which did not provide details of why the steps were taken, followed an 18-month investigation into abuse claims. Accusations against the cardinal were made in a May 2019 TV film, Just Tell No One, by a former Catholic student from Legnica, Poland.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, posted a statement after the cardinal’s death asking “God, in his mercy, to forgive the deceased for the suffering he has caused the aggrieved and the pain he caused the community of believers.”
“While expressing our unequivocal disapproval of the sins he has committed,” the archbishop said, “we must not forget the goodness that many people have experienced through his life and ministry.”
For decades, he was praised for his human rights advocacy during Poland’s communist era, for his support of catechesis and for his books on moral and doctrinal theology.
His death and the death of Cardinal Raul Vela Chiriboga, retired archbishop of Quito, Ecuador, on 15th November, leave the College of Cardinals with 216 members, 119 of whom are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.