Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was aware of cases of pedophilia in the Polish Church before he was elected Pope John Paul II in 1978. In any case, this is what a journalistic investigation presented this Sunday confirms, testimonies in support, by the private Polish television station TVN.
While he was cardinal and bishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla was aware of cases of acts of pedophilia committed by priests in his diocese, which he transferred from one parish to another to avoid scandal, assures the survey author Michal Gutowski. One of the priests was sent by the future pope to Austria. Cardinal Wojtyla, in this case, wrote a letter of recommendation to Cardinal Franz König of Vienna, without informing him of the charges against the priest.
Testimonies and rare documents
As part of the investigation, Michal Gutowski met victims of pedophile priests, their relatives, as well as former employees of the diocese. He also cites documents from the former communist SB secret police and rare Church documents to which he was able to access. The diocese of Krakow denied him access to its archives, according to the journalist. It has already happened that the Polish Church refuses to provide documents, even to justice or to a public commission of inquiry into cases of pedophilia.
Wishing to remain anonymous, a witness confirmed having personally reported to Cardinal Wojtyla the pedophile acts of a priest in 1973. “Wojtyla first wanted to make sure that it was not a bluff. He asked not to report it anywhere, he said he would take care of it,” the man said, adding that the cardinal had explicitly asked him if the matter could remain covered up.
“What many people suspected for years”
“What you have discovered is groundbreaking because it shows what many people suspected for years, that John Paul II knew this problem existed even before he became pope,” Thomas Doyle, former Pope, said in the report. American Catholic priest, canon law specialist and author of one of the first reports on abuses of Catholic clergy in the United States. “He had to know but there was no proof. And there, we have proof, ”he noted.
A book with similar accusations against Karol Wojtyla is due out in Poland on Wednesday. The result of an investigation by Dutch journalist Ekke Overbeek, it is entitled “Maxima Culpa. John Paul II knew”. Several cases of pedophilia among the clergy, revealed mainly by the media, have shaken the Polish Church in recent years. Several senior Polish officials have been sanctioned by the Vatican.