Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, retired archbishop of Wroclaw, Poland, has been banned from all public appearances and ordered to compensate his victims, after being investigated for alleged involvement in sexual abuse, the Vatican's nunciature in Warsaw said Nov. 6, 2020. Cardinal Gulbinowicz is pictured in an undated photo. CNS photo/Ernst Herb, KNA

Polish cardinal banned from public ministry over sex abuse

By  Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service
  • November 6, 2020

WARSAW, Poland -- A retired Polish cardinal has been banned from all public appearances, and ordered to compensate his alleged victims, after being investigated for sexual abuse.

"As a result of inquiries into accusations against Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, and after analyzing other charges concerning his past, the Holy See has taken disciplinary measures," the Vatican's nunciature in Warsaw said Nov. 6.

"He is barred from any kind of celebration or public meeting and from using his episcopal insignia, and is deprived of the right to a cathedral funeral and burial," the nunciature's brief statement said without providing details why the steps were being taken.

The announcement follows an 18-month investigation into abuse claims against the 97-year-old prelate, the oldest of Poland's six cardinals. Cardinal Gulbinowicz headed the Archdiocese of Wroclaw for 28 years until his 2004 retirement. In the past, he was widely praised for his human rights advocacy during Poland's communist era.

The statement also said that Cardinal Gulbinowicz would be required to pay an "appropriate sum" to the St. Joseph Foundation, which was established by the Polish bishops' conference in November 2019 to assist abuse victims and coordinate abuse prevention and child protection.

Accusations against the cardinal were made in a May 2019 TV film, "Just Tell No One," by a former Catholic student from Legnica, Poland, Przemyslaw Kowalczyk, who said he was sent to the Wroclaw curia in 1989 by a local seminary rector, Father Jozef Szanca.

Father Rafal Kowalski, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the accusations had been referred to Rome in September 2019, after a local prosecutor declined to investigate. He said other students and former associates of the cardinal also had submitted information.

The scandal is the latest to confront Poland's Catholic Church. In a March 2019 report, church officials conceded there had been "a certain ignorance" of canonical rules against abuse, as well as "differences of reliability" between dioceses and religious orders. The officials said abuse prevention programs have been introduced and diocesan staff have been trained to combat abuse and assist victims.

The pope accepted the resignation Oct. 17 of Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz, after claims in a follow-up film by directors Marek and Tomasz Sekielski that he had violated Polish law and Vatican guidelines by brushing aside sexual abuse allegations against local priests.

In February, Auxiliary Bishop Jan Szkodon of Krakow was suspended and ordered to leave his see after being publicly accused by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily of abusing an underage girl.

An investigation of Bishop Andrzej Dziuba of Lowicz is underway for failing to report alleged clergy sexual abuse, and the Vatican nunciature said Nov. 4 it had commissioned an inquiry into retired Archbishop Slawoj Glodz of Gdansk, who was publicly accused by 16 local priests in October 2019 of covering up claims of sexual harassment.

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