Man charged with desecration of Polish pope's statue

Marian Zubrzycki/PAP

A 25-year-old man has been charged with defacing a statue of the late Polish pope, John Paul II, in Lodz last Sunday.

The statue, which stands outside the cathedral in the central Polish city centre, was vandalised on April 2. The pope's hands were painted 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 child abuse allegations while serving as archbishop of Krakow.

A spokesperson for the Lodz prosecutor's office said the man was detained and questioned on Friday.

"The 25-year-old was charged with desecrating a monument and offending religious feeling," Krzysztof Kopania told PAP. "The suspect faces a prison term of up to two years. At the current stage, in the interests of the proceedings, it is not possible to provide more detailed information as to the suspect's attitude or the content of his testimony."

Kopania added that during a search of the suspect's accommodation, various items were secured that support the charges against him.

"The procedure is ongoing," he added. "Actions are continuing aimed at establishing the collaborators."