Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, Poland said the guidelines approved during the bishops' March 13-14 meeting would oblige all Catholic institutions to "defend the weakest." However, he added during a March 14 news conference that the Polish church would not deal with anonymous allegations or "cooperate with the judicial process" when confessional secrets were involved. CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World

Polish author, abuse victim, questions bishops' zero-tolerance stance

By  Catholic News Service
  • March 23, 2012

WARSAW, Poland - A prominent victim of clerical sex abuse has rejected the Polish church's stance that it is following a zero-tolerance policy toward priests and offers moral support for victims.

Ewa Orlowska, whose book about her ordeal, "I Accused a Priest," was published in 2008, charged that the church is holding "victims up to ridicule" while "behaving as if nothing has happened."

"No one in the church has made the slightest gesture. No one has expressed regret, visited or written to me. But now the bishops' conference head talks about surrounding victims of pedophilia with help and moral compensation," Orlowska said after the Polish bishops adopted guidelines -- in line with May 2011 Vatican instructions -- for handling accusations.

The mother of nine, Orlowska told Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza daily that her abuser, Msgr. Michal Moskwa, had been moved from his parish in Tylawa to another church eight miles away after his 2004 conviction for sexual abuse and two-year jail sentence.

At his new assignment, she said, Msgr. Moskwa continued celebrating Mass and preparing children for first Communion after being defended in a pastoral letter by his ordinary, Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, bishops' conference president.

Archbishop Michalik said the guidelines approved during the bishops' March 13-14 meeting would oblige all Catholic institutions to "defend the weakest."

However, he added during a March 14 news conference that the Polish church would not deal with anonymous allegations or "cooperate with the judicial process" when confessional secrets were involved.

The archbishops said the church would offer "help and moral compensation" to abuse victims, but had no legal obligation to provide material damages, which were "a matter for the guilty party."

In a March 21 interview with Poland's Onet online news agency, Archbishop Michalik said he believed his church faced an organized attack using "pedophilia and financial questions." He said the church would not "give in to media campaigns and instructions."

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