A former priest accused of molesting and raping an altar boy under his care was re-employed in the Poznań diocese, according to Gazeta Wyborcza.
Local priests, including Archbishop of Poznań Stanisław Gądecki – who is also the head of the Polish Episcopal Conference, the central organ of the Catholic church in Poland – have also failed to assist the investigation into accusations, reports the newspaper.
Last month, the former priest, known as Krzysztof G. for legal reasons, was officially charged with sexual abuse of Szymon Bączkowski on at least several dozen occasions between 2001 and 2013, starting from when the boy was in his early teens.
Krzysztof G. is accused of leading the boy into the woods, plying him with alcohol, hitting him and raping him. The prosecution claims that he initially exploited his power over the altar boy, and in later years his financial difficulties and ensuing drinking problems.
Krzysztof G. was removed from the priesthood in October 2018 after being found guilty by an internal church investigation, reports TVN24. At the time, the Poznań diocese heralded the step as a model reaction to sex-abuse accusations and an example of the church’s efforts to purge itself of the problem.
But just one month later, the former priest was employed by Archbishop Gądecki as an archivist. This came to light when the prosecutor’s office asked him to give his workplace.
According to diocese spokesman Maciej Szczepaniak, this employment was only intended as short-term assistance to the former priest while he searched for another job. Yet Krzysztof G. continued to work for the diocese for over a year.
“This type of work in a place without contact with children or young people does not carry any threats and is also a form of social prevention,” Szczepaniak argued.
“It would be good if the church helped victims with the same fervour that can be seen in its support for perpetrators,” said Bączkowski’s lawyer, Artur Nowak. A spokesperson for the diocese said that it had offered to pay for therapy, but Baczkowski denies this.
“I can’t believe it,” said Bączkowski in response to his alleged abuser’s re-remployment by the diocese. “It’s science fiction to me.”
At the same time as the diocese was helping Krzysztof G., the priests working there “did everything so as not to help prosecutors in their investigation”, claims Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s leading liberal daily. They also allegedly refused to answer questions relating to internal church proceedings.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Gądecki also refused to share files with the prosecutor’s office, saying that they were in the Vatican. Prosecutors rejected a request from the alleged victim’s lawyer to search the diocese premises.
Poznań archdiocese was also at the centre of another recent controversy surrounding the burial of the former archbishop, Juliusz Paetz, who was accused of molesting seminary students and young priests. The diocese originally planned to bury him in the city’s cathedral, but, following criticism, laid him to rest in a parish cemetery instead.
At the time, Archbishop Gądecki said: “I am certain that the situation in which we found ourselves today will help to cleanse the Poznań church.”
The Polish Catholic church has recently come under fire for its alleged failures in dealing with paedophiles in its ranks. The 2019 documentary Tell No One outlined a number of cases of alleged child sexual abuse by priests and the church’s attempts to cover them up. The church has responded by introducing measures including a new Child Protection Office to address past failings.
The funeral of former Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, who resigned over accusations of sex abuse, took place in Poznań Cathedral today.
However, following protests, including from priests, he was not buried in the cathedral, as had been originally planned https://t.co/mWfwWrfqcv
— Notes from Poland ?? (@notesfrompoland) November 18, 2019
Ben Koschalka is a translator and the assistant editor at Notes from Poland. Originally from Britain, he has lived in Kraków since 2005.