Investigation launched into desecration of John Paul II monument

Marian Zubrzycki/PAP

Police in the city of Lodz have launched an inquiry into an attack on a statue of Pope John Paul II, who has been recently accused of covering up cases of child abuse.

The statue, which stands outside the cathedral in the city centre, was vandalised on Sunday. Attackers painted the pope’s hands red and his face yellow, while the words "Maxima culpa" were written in red paint at the foot of the monument.

Maxima culpa is a term of Latin origin meaning "through my most grievous fault" and may have been daubed on the statue in reference to a book of the same title by Dutch journalist Ekke Overbeek, which claimed that the Polish-born pope may have turned a blind eye to the abuse allegations.

"No information regarding the incident is being published for the good of the investigation," a spokesperson for the Lodz police, and a spokesman for the district prosecutor's office told PAP on Monday.

"CCTV camera footage has been secured and is now being analysed," added the police spokesperson.

In early March, TVN24 private television aired 'Franciszkanska 3,' a report by journalist Marcin Gutowski, which investigated the cases of three priests: Boleslaw Sadus, Eugeniusz Surgent and Jozef Loranc.

The report alleged that the then Metropolitan of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II, knew about cases of child sex abuse by the three priests under his authority but allowed them to continue working in the church and may even have helped to cover it up.

Wojtyla served as archbishop of Krakow from 1964 to 1978, when he became Pope John Paul II. He died in 2005 and was declared a saint in 2014 following a fast-tracked process.

The report also included statements by Overbeek.