Polish archbishop quits Polish Episcopal Conference

Andrzej Grygiel/PAP

An archbishop from the archdiocese of Katowice has resigned from the Permanent Council of the Polish Bishops' Conference owing to negligence when dealing with cases of child sex abuse committed by members of the clergy.

The announcement, concerning resignation of Archbishop Wiktor Skworc from the archdiocese was published on the website of the Archdiocese of Krakow.

The high-profile resignation of a senior member of Poland's Catholic Church will further tarnish its reputation. In recent years, the Church has faced numerous allegations that it failed to act on reports of sexual abuse my its clerics.

In its statement, the Krakow archdiocese said that acting under new procedural norms to combat sexual abuse and ensure that bishops are held accountable for their actions, "the Holy See... conducted proceedings to investigate the reported negligence by him, while he was the bishop of Tarnow, in cases of sexual abuse committed against minors by two priests of this diocese."

The archdiocese said that following the investigation Skworc resigned from his membership in the Permanent Council of the Polish Bishops' Conference as well as from the chairman's post on the Committee for Pastoral Care of the Episcopate of Poland.

He also undertook to financially support, from private resources, the expenses of the Tarnow diocese concerning the matters of sexual abuse.

"Archbishop Skworc will continue to perform duties in the archdiocese of Katowice, and he has asked the Holy See to appoint a coadjutor archbishop, which means that he will be an auxiliary bishop with the right of succession in the episcopal see," said Rev. Lukasz Michalczewski, a spokesman from the Archdiocese of Krakow.

In a statement addressed to the faithful and clergy of the Archdiocese of Katowice, on Friday, Archbishop Skworc said: "I must admit that, in the 24th year of my episcopal ministry I am experiencing the most difficult moments of my life, and for this reason I entrust myself to God's Providence and ask you for your support through your prayers.

"I would like to tell you that I humbly accept the conclusions of the Holy See's inquiry, which I myself asked for, concerning the situations that arose while I was Bishop of Tarnow," he added.

"These situations concerned the sexual abuse of minors by clergymen under my jurisdiction. As it turned out, negligence occurred in two such cases. Therefore, I turn primarily to those who were wronged and to their families with a sincere and humble request for forgiveness," he said.