According to a Polish media report, the late Pope John Paul II covered up cases of abuse in the Catholic Church in Poland before his papal election. During his time as Cardinal and Bishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyla knew about pedophilia cases, the private broadcaster TVN reported on Sunday, citing research by journalist Michal Gutowski.
According to the report, Wojtyla is said to have transferred priests from his diocese, about whose actions he was aware, to other parishes in order to avoid scandals. According to this, one of the priests was sent to Austria by the later Pope. Cardinal Wojtyla wrote a letter of recommendation to Cardinal Franz König in Vienna without informing him of the allegations against the priest.
For his research, Gutowski spoke to victims of pedophile priests, their relatives and former employees of the diocese. He also relied on documents from the former communist secret police SB and documents from the church. However, the diocese of Kraków has denied him access to its archives, the journalist said.
The Catholic Church in Poland has previously refused to release documents, even to the judiciary or to a public commission investigating abuse cases.
A witness who wished to remain anonymous confirmed that he personally told Cardinal Wojtyla about a priest's pedophilic actions in 1973. "Wojtyla first wanted to make sure it wasn't a bluff," the witness said. "He said he would look into it and asked not to report it anywhere."
Thomas Doyle, a former US Catholic priest, called the journalist's revelations "revolutionary". They showed "what many people have suspected for years: that John Paul II knew about this problem before he became pope," said the canon law expert, who was one of the first to report abuses by Catholic clergy in the United States .
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