Poland’s Catholic Church on Monday asked victims of sexual abuse by the clergy for forgiveness, a month after an appeal court upheld a ruling stating the Church was responsible for the crimes of one if its priests.
The Catholic Church worldwide is reeling from crises involving sexual abuse of minors, damaging confidence in the Church in Chile, the United States, Australia and Ireland and other countries.
“We ask God, the victims of abuse, their families and the Church community for forgiveness for all the harm done to children and young people and their relatives,” the Polish Bishops wrote in a statement after a conference dedicated to the issue.
They called on victims to report the crimes to Church and state authorities.
“We note with sadness that in Poland too there are cases of sexual abuse of children and young people by some members of the clergy and those working in the Church. We repeat after Pope Francis: ‘The pain of the victims and of their families is also our pain,’” the bishops said.
Pope Francis will meet bishops from around the world at the Vatican in February to discuss the protection of minors.
More than 5 million people flocked to cinemas across Poland in recent weeks to watch a movie called “Clergy” that depicts Catholic priests in a highly unflattering light, breaking box-office records.
There are no official statistics on the number of Polish priests convicted of child sex abuse, but a Polish association that helps victims estimates there were around 56 over nearly two decades, including clergy convicted of possessing child pornography.