Church publishes child sexual abuse report, asks for forgiveness

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

The Catholic Church in Poland has asked for forgiveness for the “evil of the Church” after new figures revealed over 360 incidents of child sexual abuse involving the clergy.

The figures could further harm the reputation of the Catholic Church in Poland, which has been battered by numerous sex-abuse scandals in recent years.

"Between July 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020, Catholic Church dioceses and monasteries in Poland received 368 reports regarding sexual abuse of minors," the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics announced on Monday, adding that its report covered the period between 1958 and 2020.

"In all, 38 reports have been considered as unreliable and thus rejected, 186 are under investigation and 144 charges have been verified or considered as reliable during a preliminary inquiry by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)," the institute added.

Following the publication of the report, Poland's primate and delegate of the Polish Episcopate's Conference for child and youth protection asked people to forgive the Church.

"I would like to address the hurt and all those scandalised by the evil of the Church and ask for forgiveness," said Archbishop Wojciech Polak, who attended the presentation of the report.

He added that the data "do not fully reflect the tragedy of child sexual abuse committed by some members of the clergy."

"First, the statistical data are only figures, which cannot reflect the suffering of a human being harmed in this way," Polak said, adding that it had to be remembered that not all the wronged people had decided to reveal their tragedy and inform the authorities.

The primate also expressed his gratitude to all the people who notified the Church about child sexual abuse incidents since, as he explained, in this way they were helping the Church truly cleanse itself.

Nearly 50 percent of all reports concerned children under 15 years of age.