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Polish Priest Calls for Lay Commission to Investigate Sexual Abuse Claims

Sacerdote polaco pide investigar abusos sexuales a menores en la Iglesia con una comisión laica

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Polish priest Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, known for his past opposition to the communist regime, called Wednesday for the creation of an entity to investigate, with the participation of lay members, cases of sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church.

Isakowicz-Zaleski told the International Conference for the Defense of Children, which closed Wednesday in Warsaw, that “only a commission of independent experts can solve the situation” of abuses within the Church and called on the current state commission on child abuse to reach “a compromise solution”.

In the priest’s opinion, there is a “syndrome of corporatism” in the Church that prevents these crimes from being satisfactorily investigated by the institution itself.

Isakowicz-Zaleski defends an internal regeneration of the Polish Church because “it is a mistake that the ecclesiastical authorities have not wanted to face this problem from the beginning”.

He assured that only “an independent report,” prepared by a lay or mixed commission, “would be credible, one whose authors do not belong to the ecclesiastical hierarchy.”

“A good example is that of the French episcopate, which had the initiative to establish an independent commission headed by the lawyer Jean-Marc Sauvé,” the Polish priest said.

The head of the Office of the delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for the Protection of Children and Youth, Father Piotr Studnicki, commented that the proposal would be considered and analyzed very seriously and added that the Holy See would be consulted.

The International Conference in Defense of the Child was held over three days and brought together members of the Catholic Church from various European countries, as well as some experts in child psychology and the rights of minors.

Last Friday, Pope Francis spoke at the opening of the conference with a video message in which he said that “only by facing the truth of these cruel behaviors and humbly seeking the forgiveness of the victims and survivors will the Church be able to find her way.”

Last year, 10 Polish bishops were removed from office and sanctioned by the Vatican for covering up or failing to act appropriately in relation to child abuse cases.

Last June 28, Polish church authorities said they had received 368 allegations of abuse involving members of the clergy between July 2018 and the end of 2020; half of the cases involved children under the age of 15.

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