Warsaw, Poland – On Thursday, the Polish episcopate announced that Charles Scicluna, the Canadian-born Maltese archbishop and the Vatican’s top expert and investigator of pedophilia and sexual abuse within the clergy, will visit Poland next month.
During his visit in Poland, Scicluna, which serves as the Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will attend the plenary session of the Conference of Polish bishops. He will also hold a study day with the Polish clergy on the protection of young children amid public outcry over growing sex abuse scandals.
Scicluna is the top Vatican expert and prosecutor of pedophilia cases in the priesthood and played a prominent role in uncovering child sexual aggression cases in Chile, which led to the resignation of several local bishops.
Polish Catholic Church faces outrage over shock sexual abuse documentary
The announcement comes as Poland’s influential Catholic Church is facing an unprecedented backlash after the release of a documentary, called “Tell No One“, that addresses pedophilia and sexual abuse cases from Polish priests and features victims confronting their abusers years after the fact. The documentary has been viewed more than 20 million times since its release last Saturday on YouTube.
Last year, the movie ‘Kler’, which broke box-office records in Poland and painted a harrowing picture of the Polish clergy’s corruption and pedophilia problems, also prompted outrage in one of the most Catholic nations in Europe.
Although the Catholic Church tried to defuse the growing scandal by releasing, last month, a report admitting nearly 400 Polish priests sexually abused children since the 1990’s, critics claim the study grossly underestimates the real extent of the problem and that the Polish clergy is still turning a blind eye on the issue.
Ruling party scrambles to contain pedophilia scandal in Poland
In reaction to the most recent scandal, the Polish government announced it would raise the sentence for convicted pedophiles to a maximum of 30 years in prison, with Law and Justice (PiS) party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski vowing that this would “apply to priests” as well. The changes to the law also include the removal of the statute of limitations for the most drastic cases and possible life sentences for the pedophiles deemed the most dangerous.
According to analysts, the popularity of the ruling Law and Justice party, which holds close ties to the Catholic Church and prepares for two key elections this year, could take a strong hit in light of the latest scandal.