97 year old cardinal banned from public ministry

A retired Polish cardinal has been banned from all public appearances after being investigated for sexual abuse.

Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz (97) has been ordered to compensate his alleged victims.

The Vatican’s nunciature in Poland says Gulbinowicz was disciplined after “allegations regarding the cardinal’s past” were investigated.

Last year a Polish newspaper published an article by a man who accused Gulbinowicz of sexually abusing him when he was a minor in the 1990s and a student in a Catholic seminary.

“As a result of inquiries into accusations against Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, and after analyzing other charges concerning his past, the Holy See has taken disciplinary measures,” the Vatican’s nunciature in Warsaw says.

“He is barred from any kind of celebration or public meeting and from using his episcopal insignia, and is deprived of the right to a cathedral funeral and burial,” the nunciature’s brief statement says.

It did not offer any details as to why the steps were being taken.

The announcement follows an 18-month investigation into abuse claims against the 97-year-old retired Polish cardinal.

Gulbinowicz, who is the oldest of Poland’s six cardinals, headed the Archdiocese of Wroclaw for 28 years until his 2004 retirement.

He has been widely praised in the past for his human rights advocacy during Poland’s communist era.

The statement says Gulbinowicz would be required to pay an “appropriate sum” to the St. Joseph Foundation.

The Foundation was established by the Polish bishops’ conference last November to assist abuse victims and coordinate abuse prevention and child protection.

Accusations against Gulbinowicz were made in a May 2019 TV film, “Just Tell No One,” by a former Catholic student, Przemyslaw Kowalczyk.

In the film Kowalczyk says he was sent to the Wroclaw curia in 1989.

Archdiocesan spokesman Father Rafal Kowalski says Rome was informed of the accusations in September 2019. Other students and former associates of the cardinal also had submitted information, he says.

“We have to say we’re sorry.”

“There is an intention to clear up these issues and judge, so people who have hurt others are punished.”

In a March 2019 report church officials agreed there had been “a certain ignorance” of canonical rules against abuse, as well as “differences of reliability” between dioceses and religious orders.

They said abuse prevention programmes have now been introduced and diocesan staff have been trained to combat abuse and assist victims.

Poland’s Catholic Church has been beset by scandals recently.

Last month Pope Francis accepted Bishop Edward Janiak’s resignation after claims in another film he had violated Polish law and Vatican guidelines by brushing aside sexual abuse allegations against local priests.

In February 2020, Auxiliary Bishop Jan Szkodon was suspended and ordered to leave his see after being publicly accused in a newspaper of abusing an underage girl.

In addition, an investigation into Bishop Andrzej Dziuba of Lowicz is underway for failing to report alleged clergy sexual abuse.

Besides this, the Vatican nunciature said last week that it will be inquiring into retired Archbishop Slawoj Glodz for covering up sexual harassment claims.


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