The Polish Catholic Church’s most senior archbishop notified the Vatican on Saturday of a Polish bishop accused of shielding priests known to have sexually abused children.
The referral, unprecedented in the deeply religious country, will test procedures introduced by the Vatican last year to hold to account bishops accused of turning a blind eye to child sex abuse.
The Vatican is now expected to assign an investigator to the case.
“I ask priests, nuns, parents and educators to not be led by the false logic of shielding the Church, effectively hiding sexual abusers,” Poland’s Primate Wojciech Polak said in a statement published on Saturday.
“There is no place among the clergy to sexually abuse minors. We do not allow for the hiding of these crimes.”
The case came to prominence after a film by brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, released on Saturday, showed how bishop Edward Janiak, based in the city of Kalisz, failed to take action against priests who were known to have abused children.
Janiak, who is still practicing, has not commented directly on the allegations.