Parting Gift… or Papal Gaffe?

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Whispers in the Loggia (http://www.whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just in case anyone thought the succession saga at the Congregation for Bishops was the only volatile backstory going these days… well, there’s something else.

Yesterday, prominent reports in the Polish press circulated that, in recent weeks, the Vatican dicastery quietly removed the suspension from ministry of a Polish archbishop who resigned in disgrace in 2002 after allegations came to light that he had abused teenage seminarians in his local church.

While Archbishop Juliusz Paetz has categorically declared his innocence over the last decade, his departure from the helm of the 1.5 million-member church in Poznan was forced after a Vatican investigation concluded that the prelate’s misconduct was well known to the degree that, years earlier, Paetz (right) had been banned from visiting his seminary given its rector’s finding that, as the latter put it, the archbishop had “not changed his ways.”

Though the students declined to press charges, following his ouster the Congregation prohibited Paetz from exercising episcopal ministry, just as other accused prelates around the world have been consigned to secluded lives of prayer and penance, with no public presence whatsoever.

According to one unconfirmed report today, Paetz’s successor, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, was said to be so “disconcerted” with the reversal of the sanction that he has moved to resign, another daily relayed that the Poznan curia was “fighting for cancellation of the decision,” and several other accounts saying that the news of the reprieve was being communicated to all the parishes of Poland.

Now 75, Paetz worked in the Roman Curia from the late 1960s until 1982, when Pope John Paul II dispatched his fellow Pole — then a staffer in the Papal Household — back home as a bishop. He was promoted to Poznan in 1996.

While Pope Benedict’s role in revoking the ban is unclear, on the archbishop’s 50th anniversary as a priest last year the pontiff sent Paetz a telegram praising the prelate’s “fruitful service” and “saving work for the good of the church.” At the same time, the archbishop’s period in the orbit of the Papal Apartment would’ve coincided with the rise of an Italian staffer posted just down the hall in the Secretariat of State: Giovanni Battista Re, now winding down his decade as cardinal-prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which granted the restoration. (The latter link has already been presented in the Polish reports.)

The Paetz scandal was one of two major episcopal downfalls to rock the Polish church in the last decade; the other was the dramatic resignation of Stanislaw Wielgus as archbishop of Warsaw in January 2007.

Minutes before his installation Mass was to begin, Wielgus was forced to decline the post after disclosures that, as a young priest, he had collaborated with the Communist-era secret police.

On a related note, last month the longtime papal nuncio to Warsaw Archbishop Joseph Kowalczyk was transferred from his posting to the country’s primatial see of Gniezno. The 71 year-old prelate’s successor at the nunciature has not yet been named.

SVILUPPO: In an unusual brief filed at mid-afternoon Rome time, the Italian service of Vatican Radio relayed a statement from the Poznan curia denying the reports of Gadecki’s resignation. That said, any mention of the reason why the prelate would’ve sought to quit was conspicuous by its absence.

While the reports have been denied, one Poznan daily has published that the current archbishop saw fit to issue an ultimatum to Rome: “Me or Paetz.”

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Vatican absolves Polish archbishop accused of sexual molestation

Thenews.pl (Poland)

 17.06.2010 12:47 

Juliusz Paetz: photo – Marek Maliszewski/Polskie Radio 

Against the wishes of some leading figures in Poland’s Roman Catholic church, the Vatican has revoked a ban imposed on Archbishop Juliusz Paetz  – accused of sexually molesting clergy in 2002 – from leading religious ceremonies.

 Eight years ago, the Rzeczpospolita newspaper alleged that Paetz, the then head of the archdiocese of Poznan, western Poland, sexually molested seminarians at his diocesan seminary.

Paetz denied the charges, claiming that he was the victim of a “broadly conceived and systematically conducted” smear campaign but resigned from his position and retired from public life.

 Paetz’s supervisors in Poznan ignored complaints filed against him and even defended the archbishop. The local Prosecutor’s Office refused to open an investigation into the case as the alleged victims did not lay charges against the archbishop.

The Vatican long postponed the decision to punish Paetz  – who once spent four years working in John Paul II’s papal household – but finally banned him from exercising episcopal ministry at the archdiocese of Poznan, forbidding him from giving the sacrament of confirmation, ordaining priests, consecrating churches or leading processions.

 However, several weeks ago, the Vatican Congregation for Bishops revoked the ban, it has been revealed by TVP public television and other Polish media outlets.

“The archbishop has strived for the ban to be lifted for several years and now wants the Vatican’s decision to be announced in all Poznan churches,” the Poznan archdiocese informs.

 The recent retirement of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re as Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops at the Holy See might have also facilitated the Vatican’s decision.  

 Divided Church

 The Vatican’s decision to revoke Peatz’s ban on leading religious services has been criticized by the new archbishop of Poznan, Stanislaw Gadecki, however, who appealed for his privileges not to be returned as this would discredited Church hierarch.

The Catholic Church in Poland, especially in Poznan, is divided on the Vatican’s decision. Some priests claim that it is unethical and unjust, others point out that Paetz’s guilt has never been proved. 

Archbishop Paetz himself did not want to comment on the news.

A priest from Poznan revealed that over the last few years the archbishop has been a regular guest at all kinds of celebrations and events in Poznan, including a special mass for young people.  

“Instead of hiding in a mouse hole he appears in public. In 2006, at the Balice Airport in Krakow he exchanged hugs with the Pope Benedict XVI,” Prof. Krzysztof Podemski from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily. “The Bible says that one sinner who does penance is worth 99 just men. The Church also receives those who had been dismissed,” says priest Adam Boniecki, editor-in-chief of the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny

 The controversy will fuel criticism of the Roman Catholic hierarchy that it is not taking accusations of sexual abuse by clergy seriously after recent reports of cover ups of complaints by congregations in Ireland, Germany and lately Denmark. (pg/mg) 

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 Comments:

hairball 17/06/2010 15:13:53

Just another example of the church’s indiference to the sexual abuse performed by the clergy on children. Any other organisation would be closed down if it allowed so much abuse within its system.

Maybe it’s time for something to be done and this institution made to answer for its crimes.

____________________________Jeannie Cole

17/06/2010 15:45:13

For all outward appearances, this just looks like a repeat of the sick and abominable, Vatican orchestrated, Father Maciel debacle! Just when people all over the world were starting to believe that Pope Benedict XVI was starting to get serious about sexual abuse, the Vatican opens the door for more criticism. With the reinstatement of Paetz, the Pope’s words of repentance and sorrow appear to be CHEAP and ineffectual! It looks like it’s business as usual in the Vatican and the Magisterium/Hierarchy. Now, there will be more layoffs at Gates of Hell, Inc., as the Holy(?) Roman Catholic Church has proven once again that She is doing a great job destroying Herself!

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dunderhead 17/06/2010 18:35:21

You know, this guy never faced a court trial and has never been formally charged of anything. So conseuently he is innocent until proven guilty.

I am not saying that the catholic church has not got some big problems in this area, but let’s get some perspective about this.
Saying that, the vatican PR director should be shot, or maybe even worse punishment. How do they thing their ‘flock’ are going to react to another seeming disregard for people’s feelings about sexual preditors in their ranks?

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Arthur 17/06/2010 18:45:59
Are there no journalists in Poland with balls, what about the real story? It is inconceivable that Poland a predominantly Catholic country has not had a problem with priest sexually abusing children like that of Ireland or the US. How much has been covered up and for how long? What level of state complicity facilitated the cover?

Investigative journalism still not part of the Polish skill set?

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Karmenu of Malta 17/06/2010 19:52:22

Taking tha accusations seriously does not mean, as so many would like to hold, that all the accused are to be declared guilty. In fact, all are innocent until proved guilty. If the guilt is not proven, then the accused must be declared innocent.
There may be a case for the person who is found innocent to be prevented from certain functions in the interest of the Church’s credibility; but that would be an unjust suffering for an innocent person who has already had to endure all the vilifications that go with the allegations.
Let the guilty be punished; let the innocent be given back their honour, though not necessarily their former positions.

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dunderhead 17/06/2010 22:50:43

“Investigative journalism still not part of the Polish skill set? ”

Oooo…polish journalists not as investigative as…well…which country is that, then? The US? The nation where journalists cravenly let the bushies get away with literally murder after 9/11 because they were too scared to raise difficult issues? Which country are these brave journos living then, eh, Arthur.

Secondly, don;t be so patronising.

Thirdly, the pedo priests in Ireland, for instance, were not exposed by journalists…it was communities themselves that did that.

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Irish Guy 18/06/2010 12:12:53

Dead right Dunderhead. The issue in Poland is that abuse is going on, some people know about and do nothing, others will not believe it is happening and others are turning the other way so not to cause “a problem”. There needs to be social change in Poland. Long overdue.

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hairball 18/06/2010 12:47:11

He will never be “proven guilty” if the people responsible for investigating the alegations refuse to even open a case against him.

I see the usual Poles who defend catholicism blindly are very quiet!

Your silence is deafening

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Thomas 18/06/2010 15:56:59

Priests diddling priests, did they run out of alter boys?

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