Pope cleans house in Poland after abuse, cover-up scandal

Pope cleans house in Poland after abuse, cover-up scandal

Thursday, August 13, 2020

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ROME, Italy (AP) — Pope Francis continued cleaning house in Poland on Thursday following revelations of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up, replacing the powerful archbishop of Gdansk on his 75th birthday.

The action by Francis was the second time in two months that he replaced a Polish bishop on the same day the bishop turned 75. It follows another decision by the pope to sideline a third Polish bishop pending a Vatican investigation into allegations he covered up for predators.

While all Catholic bishops must offer to retire when they turn 75, it is highly unusual for the pope to accept such a resignation on a prelate's actual birthday. Doing so suggests that Francis was keen to send a signal showing his seriousness about ending the culture of concealment within the Polish church hierarchy.

The pope named a temporary administrator to run the Gdansk archdiocese after accepting the resignation of Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz.

Glodz was featured in one of the devastating recent documentaries about priestly sex abuse and cover-up in Poland that have sparked a reckoning in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country.

In the 2019 film "Tell No One", Glodz is shown eulogising a known pedophile priest, the Rev Franciszek Cybula, the personal chaplain to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, at his funeral despite knowing of his abuse.

Abuse survivors also included Glodz in a report identifying two dozen current and retired Polish bishops accused of protecting predator priests. The report was delivered to Francis on the eve of his 2019 global abuse prevention summit at the Vatican.

The archbishop had been criticised by prominent Polish survivor Barbara Borowiecka, a victim of one of Poland's most famous Solidarity-era priests, the late Rev Henryk Jankowski. A statue of Jankowski in Gdansk was toppled and eventually removed last year following her revelations.

Borowiecka, whose decision to go public with her story helped kick-start the Polish reckoning, was euphoric when she learned of Glodz's replacement. She forwarded several emails she had sent to the Vatican in the past two years seeking his removal and accusing him of having covered up for predator priests and having discredited victims.

"I am so, so happy and shocked," Borowiecka told The Associated Press by telephone. "I never expected this news, never in a million years." She noted that she had received violent threats for having dared to go public with her claims, as well as support from ordinary Poles.

The Polish bishops conference announced the news of Glodz's resignation in a statement, stressing that Glodz had turned 75 and "thus he has reached retirement age and is retiring".

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