Sunday, May 26, 2024

Poland's Bishops' Conference chairman reacts to accusations

The chairman of the Polish Bishops' Conference has himself spoken out for the first time about the accusation that he was negligent in his handling of cases of abuse.  

Archbishop Tadeusz Wojda assured on Friday in a video message published by his archdiocese of Gdansk that the proceedings against a priest of the diocese accused of sexual abuse would be conducted correctly. He is committed to clarifying all allegations and recognises "the need to help the victims".

For those affected by abuse, every return to the suffering they have endured is "a very painful experience that we may not always be fully aware of", said Wojda. "So if this process has lacked the expected and due empathy, then I very much apologise for that."

The archbishop is accused of allowing the priest Adrian G. to continue working with children, even though two young women had reported him to the archdiocese in 2021 for alleged abuse. 

According to Polish media reports, Wojda also allegedly lacked empathy during a meeting with the women in 2022.

Critics of Wojda disappointed by statement

A joint letter from 46 people who claim to have been affected by sexualised violence in the Catholic Church recently caused a stir in Poland. 

In the letter, they call for Wojda to be suspended as chairman of the bishops' conference. The archbishop did not comment on this in the 100-second video message.

One of the authors of the incendiary letter to the Bishops' Conference, Robert Fidura, expressed his disappointment with Wojda's statement in an initial reaction. It was just a lot of empty words and assurances, he wrote on the online platform X.

Wojda (67) has been Archbishop of Gdansk since March 2021; he previously headed the Archbishopric of Bialystok in north-east Poland since 2017. 

Poland's bishops elected him as their chairman in March 2024, although the Catholic weekly "Tygodnik Powszechny" had already accused him of misconduct in both abuse cases in 2022.