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The Catholic Church presents data on the abuse of minors

The Rev. Adam Żak, coordinator of Children and Young People Protection for the Polish Episcopal Conference, has presented a report on child abuse.
The most important information can be found below:
- From 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2020, a total of 368 reports of child sexual abuse were submitted to dioceses and male religious orders.
- Nearly half of the victims mentioned in these reports were younger than 15 (47%), and the others were nearly all between 15 and 18 years old (47.3%). In both age groups, there was an equal number of girls and boys (50% each). 21 reports (5.7%) contained no information about age: 8 of these concerned the abuse of girls, 13 of boys.
- The number of boys and girls who were victimised is very noticeably equal. This shift in the trend teaches us not to generalise or reduce the issue to that of homosexuality.
- Thirty-eight of the reports were considered not credible and rejected, 186 are under investigation, and 144 were confirmed or found credible at the preliminary stage or by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Among those who were reportedly victims of sexual abuse:

• 104 (28%) reports concerned altar servers,
• 71 (19%) male and female school children preparing to receive sacraments,
• 61 (17%) members of a parish, community or movement,
• 25 (7%) members of a church choir,
• 24 (7%) family members or acquaintances of a priest or friar,
• 17 (5%) readers,
• 10 (3%) pilgrimage participants,
• 9 (2%) holiday camp participants,
• 3 (1%) female servers.

In 173 reports (47%), the relation of the victim to the Church was none of the above or unknown, and 47 (13%) reports contained no information about the status of the victim (The above categories are not mutually exclusive, meaning that a single victim could belong to several categories).

The reports concerned cases of child sexual abuse which occurred from 1958 to 2020. 81% of them concerned acts committed from 1958 to 2017, and 18% were related to acts committed in the last three years (2018-2020). Four reports lacked information about the time of the act. As regards duration, in 39% of the cases, the abuse lasted for less than a year, 37% – from one year to two years, 14% – from three to five years, 5% – from six to nine years, and in 4% – for more than 10 years.

The reports submitted from 2018 to the end of 2020 concern 292 priests and friars. More than one accusation was brought against 20% of the accused (from among these 58 persons, at least 32 diocesan priests and 10 friars had already been accused before 1 July 2018, i.e. had already been under investigation).

The reports were submitted to dioceses and religious orders with varying frequencies. However, in the analysed period there was not a single month when a Church jurisdiction in Poland did not receive any report.

“The Church, though not without resistance, is changing and repenting. I would like to thank those who took in the victims and are helping them along the way. We are also thankful to the law enforcement”, says Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak.

As demonstrated in today’s report, from mid-2018 to the end of 2020, 300 sexual abuse reports were submitted to dioceses, and 68 to orders. Nearly half of the victims mentioned in these reports were under 15 years old (47%), and half of them were between 15 and 18 (47.3%).

The report notes that “the situation of the accused differed at the time of data collection by the Polish Episcopal Conference Delegate Office”. Most of them were prohibited from ministry pending investigation (46%), prohibited from any ministry-related contact with children and young people (36%), or were ordered to remain in a specified location (37%). In other cases, various procedures were applied, including a temporary ban on performing certain ministry functions, banning from visiting a certain location, restriction of ministerial responsibilities or canon law penalties. Sixteen percent of the accused clergymen are currently retired, and (11% of the accused diocesan priests and 6% of the friars have not been banned from ministry.

D 1 September 2021    AMichał Zawiślak

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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