The Vatican’s leading sexual abuse investigator on Friday urged stronger action from Poland’s Catholic bishops who are under growing public pressure over a pedophilia scandal.
The Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, met Poland’s Catholic bishops on Friday to share his experience in tracking crimes, after the Polish church admitted knowing of hundreds of cases where priests abused minors.
“I have a great hope that Polish bishops will do what is needed … I hope this situation can be repaired,” Archbishop Charles Scicluna said on Friday during a two-day trip to train senior clergy on tackling pedophilia.
He told a news conference it was not enough to have rules but “we need to implement what the documents say” and people in parishes should know who to turn to in the church when they suspect abuse.
The Polish bishops approved earlier this year a document setting out procedures for reporting and tackling abuse, but critics say some clergy still lack empathy with victims.
“My very strong message to the bishops of Poland this morning was – we need to pass from very good documents to an example of best practice,” Scicluna, from Malta, told reporters.
Pope Francis has promised an “all-out battle” to root out pedophilia in the Catholic Church, which has seen its reputation battered by sexual abuse scandals worldwide.
It has faced accusations of hushing up scandals and moving known abusers from parish-to-parish.
The church in Poland, which is close to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, has yet to reach consensus on handling the issue. PiS, a nationalist, socially conservative party, sees Catholicism as a key element of national identity, while Polish liberals say bishops wield too much power.