St. John Paul II was defended by parliamentarians and Poland’s Catholic Church as one of the greatest Poles ever on Thursday, and the government “invited” the U.S. ambassador to talks as a result of the fallout from a TV program suggesting that he covered up incidents of clergy sex abuse.
Three priests were mentioned in a story this week on TVN24, a channel owned by the US business Warner Bros. Discovery, who were supposedly moved around by John Paul during the 1970s after they were accused of molesting youngsters. He was still the archbishop of Krakow in southern Poland at the time, Karol Wojtyla.
The TVN broadcast sparked a national discussion at a time when the Polish Church has been forced to face up to its history of clergy sexual abuse. John Paul is adored in the largely Roman Catholic nation for his role in aiding the fall of communism. In parliament on Thursday, a contentious discussion on his legacy broke out.
The late pope has been vehemently supported by members of the government, notably Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, as a national hero and the source of all moral authority in the nation. Leftist politicians jumped on claims that he purposefully shielded predatory priests, and some demanded that the name of Pope John Paul II be removed from street and school names.
A resolution supporting John Paul as the “most outstanding Pole in history” was also approved by the lower chamber of parliament on Thursday, but several opposition members walked out or chose to abstain.
The late pope was commended for “actively supporting the Polish country in its endeavors to recover freedom and independence,” and the resolution severely denounced “the despicable, hostile media campaign based largely on the materials of the communist apparatus of violence” against him.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the chairman of the Polish bishops’ conference, entered the debate on Thursday, vehemently defending the late pope and pleading with “all persons of good will” to preserve his legacy. Gadecki offered prayers for individuals attempting to slander Pope John Paul II at Mass at the tomb of the pope in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
Gadecki joined some detractors in questioning the report’s veracity since some of the data it cited came from the records of the covert security agency active during the communist era that had been attempting to undermine the church.
For millions of Poles, the Polish pope has served as a moral standard, a source of religious instruction, and a heavenly intercessor, according to Gadecki. “It shocks me that, under the name of concern for truth and goodness, attempts are being made to discredit John Paul II himself and his legacy.”
From 1964 to 1978, Wojtyla was the archbishop of Krakow before becoming Pope John Paul II. He passed away in 2005, and after a quick process, he was canonized in 2014.
Gadecki defended John Paul by stating that despite his “greatness and sainthood,” he “could not have committed mistakes.” But, he also pointed out that at the time, the church and society as a whole dealt with abuse in various ways and under different laws. He claimed that there existed a different social consciousness and established methods of problem-solving.
Meanwhile, when Poland’s Foreign Ministry invited American Ambassador Mark Brzezinski for a conversation concerning a TV station’s behavior, the disagreement took on a diplomatic dimension. Although though TVN wasn’t specifically mentioned, the ministry stated that the discussions were related to the operations of a television station “which is an investor in the Polish market,” clearly referring to TVN.
Through investigations into suspected malfeasance by officials, TVN frequently criticizes the ruling party. At one point, it was the largest U.S. commercial investment in Poland.
Prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Andrzej Duda overrode the ruling party’s veto of legislation that would have stripped the U.S. owner of its controlling position in the corporation under pressure from the United States.
The potential repercussions of the reports “are identical to the goals of hybrid conflict intended to lead to splits and tensions in Polish society,” according to the ministry statement.
The word “summoned” was altered to “invited” in the Foreign Ministry’s statement from an earlier version in which it said the American ambassador was being “summoned.” It would be clear from a summons that the ambassador was receiving a message of protest. “We believed the latter (invitation) sounded better due to our friendship and alliance,” the foreign ministry spokesman wrote on Twitter.
Pope John Paul II 'covered up child abuse' and 'transferred paedophile priests out of the country', bombshell report claimshttps://t.co/xhq9zg11WZ pic.twitter.com/mbKyt9kYRb— Peaceful Quaker (@doubleDutchquak) March 7, 2023
The newscaster on TVN24’s evening main news stated that the channel did not seek to disparage John Paul’s legacy but rather to give clerical abuse victims a voice.
Not just Pope John Paul II is being criticized for his interactions with predatory priests.
An independent assessment commissioned by the diocese criticised his immediate successor, Benedict XVI, for his handling of four cases while he was Munich archbishop. Benedict XVI took a much harder approach and defrocked hundreds of abusive priests.
As a bishop and later as pope, Pope Francis has also been accused of failing to respond to allegations of clergy abuse in his own Argentina and Chile.