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Polish Catholic Church reveals hundreds of new sexual abuse claims

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By Euronews with AP & AFP
Temple of Divine Providence, a major church in the Polish capital,in Warsaw, Poland
Temple of Divine Providence, a major church in the Polish capital,in Warsaw, Poland   -   Copyright  Czarek Sokolowski/AP
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Hundred of cases of sexual abuse of children by clergy in the Polish Catholic Church were revealed on Monday.

In a new report 369 cases of sexual assault, committed between 1958 and 2020, were reported between July 2018 and the end of last year.

The report comes as the politically-influential church faces a series of high-profile accuations of sexual abuse of children and cover-ups.

According to the church, 39 percent of the complaints were found to be true, while investigations continue into more than 50 percent of the remaining cases.

Ten percent of the complaints were rejected for reasons such as lack of credibility.

At an online conference in Warsaw, the head of Poland’s Catholic Church, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, apologized to the victims and asked their forgiveness, echoing apologies he has made before.

“What is clear to see is that we have a wave of reports” in high numbers, since the time of the previous report published in March 2019, said Monsignor Adam Zak, the official in charge of tracking down and preventing abuse.

The church’s first report, for 1990-2018, listed cases of 382 clergymen having allegedly abused 625 minors.

The current report reflects new allegations that have been made since then.

Forty-two of the alleged perpetrators’ names are the same as in the previous report, church officials said.

A long series of accusations of sexual abuse has rocked the Polish church in recent years, especially after the release of the viral documentary "Tell No One" by journalist Tomasz Sekielski.

Since last year, the Vatican has sanctioned four Polish bishops for covering up paedophilia by clergymen, and announced the resignation of two other bishops.

One, Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski, resigned from the Legnica diocese in southwestern Poland on Monday.

It follows the Vatican’s probe into reports of the bishop’s “negligence” in the case of a priest who abused a minor in the Siedlce diocese when Kiernikowski was its head from 2002-2014, a communique by local church authorities said.

The Holy See also sanctioned 97-year-old Polish Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, who has since died, following an unspecified investigation and accepted the resignation of Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz over accusations of harassing priests and failing to respond to allegations of sexual assault.

The Vatican is also investigating a close associate of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, for similar suspicions.