Pope Francis has named an apostolic administrator for a Polish diocese that came under scrutiny in a documentary investigating the current bishop’s reported lack and delay of action in responding to accusations of the abuse of minors.
The Vatican announced on 25th June that the pope had appointed Archbishop Grzegorz Rys of Lodz as apostolic administrator “sede plena” of the Diocese of Kalisz.
An appointment “sede plena” means the see is not vacant and the current diocesan bishop, Bishop Edward Janiak, 67, is still head of the diocese.
The appointment came as a Vatican investigation was to get underway regarding accusations that Bishop Janiak failed to take action when told about allegations of abuse perpetrated by a diocesan priest.
Archbishop Wojciech Polak, primate of Poland and the bishops’ delegate for child protection, had announced in mid-May that he would ask the Vatican to initiate proceedings against Bishop Janiak for failing to discipline a priest incriminated by the documentary.
Two Polish filmmakers, Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, released the film, titled Hide and Seek, on 16th May. It accused the Polish Church of continuing to cover up sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, and specifically detailed the abuse perpetrated by a priest of the Diocese of Kalisz. According to some victims, the priest began abusing them in the late 1990s. Bishop Stanislaw Napierala had led the Diocese of Kalisz from 1992 to 2012, and Bishop Janiak since 2012.
The parents of one of the abused children reportedly told Bishop Janiak in 2016 about the abuse; they claim the bishop told them, “These are lies” and asked them to leave. The priest was moved to a hospital, and the bishop apparently did not report the case to the Vatican until 2018 when the accusations became more publicly known.
After the documentary’s release, Archbishop Polak said because of the information revealed in the film, he was asking the Vatican to start the proceedings allowed for by Pope Francis in the document, Vos Estis Lux Mundi (You are the light of the world), regarding bishop accountability.
Picture: Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on 24th June 2020. The Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Grzegorz Rys of Lodz as apostolic administrator “sede plena” of the Diocese of Kalisz. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).