Polish clerical child abuse documentary casts shadow on John Paul II centenary

By Agence France-Presse

A Polish documentary on child abuse by Catholic clerics has put a damper on centenary celebrations of the late Pope John Paul II’s birth.

After the film Hide and Seek was seen by almost 80,000 people on YouTube, Polish archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Vatican to “launch proceedings” into the cases in question.

It is the second documentary by Tomasz Sekielski on child abuse within the church, and focuses in detail on two brothers who are alleged victims of a priest who was protected by a bishop.

“The film Hide and Seek, which I have just seen, shows that protection standards for children and adolescents in the church were not respected,” Polak said in a video broadcast by the Catholic news agency KAI.

The archbishop added that he had asked the Vatican to launch proceedings under the auspices of an apostolic letter issued by Pope Francis in March 2019 on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons.

In May 2019, Sekielski released Tell No One, a similar documentary that has been viewed almost 23.5 million times on YouTube and sparked a national discussion of sex abuse by Catholic clergy.

The issue then faded however, and neither film explores a lack of action by Saint John Paul II, who was pope from 1978 to 2005 and who is widely venerated in his native Poland.

Sekielski has already said however that he will release a third documentary on the “role of John Paul II in the dissimulation of crimes committed by priests”.

Poland has scheduled church services, events and online concerts to celebrate the birth of John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyła on 18 May, 1920 in Wadowice, southern Poland.