Pope orders Polish bishop from diocese

Pope Francis has ordered a Polish bishop to leave his diocese and let someone else run it.

Bishop of Kalisz, Edward Janiak must stay away while he is being investigated for covering up sexual abuse cases. He will retain the title of bishop for the meantime, however.

The cases Janiak allegedly covered up featured in a clergy abuse documentary that shocked Poland’s Catholic Church.

The Vatican has announced that Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś of Łódź will be the apostolic administrator “sede plena” of the Diocese of Kalisz in central Poland.

“Sede plena” is a term used to signify that a see is still occupied by a bishop.

In May, an online documentary “Playing Hide and Seek,” exposed two cases of paedophile priests that Janiak handled.

The first case occurred when Janiak was an auxiliary bishop of Wroclaw, while the second occurred since he was appointed bishop of Kalisz, which he has headed since 2012.

The documentary featured court testimony about Janiak’s role helping transfer a priest to another diocese, even after a criminal investigation had begun.

The priest was subsequently convicted and defrocked.

The second case the documentary covered alleged a cover-up of another priest during Janiak’s time as Kalisz bishop.

The documentary suggests Janiak didn’t follow the Vatican’s own in-house rules to report allegations against the Kalisz priest to the Holy See. He only made his report after the case gained media attention, it alleges.

The diocese says they have not had any formal complaints from victims, though the parents of one victim did.

An audiotape of Janiak berating the parents in 2016, provides one of the more chilling moments of the documentary.

The film was the second on Polish clergy abuse by brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski.

Their first one “Tell No One,” (2019) triggered a national reckoning in a country where there is no higher moral authority than the Catholic Church and its clergy.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Primate of Poland, apologised after seeing the documentary and at least one cleric left priestly life.

Polak May wrote to the Vatican in May reporting the allegations against Janiak and asking for an investigation be carried out. Poznan Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki was tasked with carrying out a preliminary investigation. He has said he wouldn’t comment while it is underway.

Later in May, Kalisz’s leading priests were asked by a local bishop to sign a letter to the Vatican pledging confidence in Janiak.

Most refused. Instead, they sent a letter asking for Vatican clarification into the allegations against him.

In early June, Janiak was hospitalized with the suspicion he had suffered a stroke. Further examination showed he was very drunk. It said he was taken home by friends after being given an IV.

The diocese did not comment directly on the report, but said the Polish bishop who is 67, had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and often required medical care.

On June 15, the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza published a leaked letter from Janiak to fellow Polish bishops criticizing Polak for reporting him to the Vatican.


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