Polish Catholic Church faces first child abuse lawsuit

WARSAW, Poland, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A Polish man has become the first person to challenge the country's powerful Catholic Church over its refusal to compensate children and minors found to have been abused by members of the clergy.

The 25-year-old, identified only as Marcin K, filed a civil claim, with help from the Helsinki Foundation advocacy and human rights group, for $64,500 in compensation.


The Warsaw Voice said the case was "unprecedented," as a civil suit has never before been filed against the church in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Helsinki Foundation representative Adam Bondar confirmed to reporters in Warsaw it is the first civil lawsuit against the Polish Catholic church.

"But there has never been a case in which a victim sues not just the perpetrator but also the church as an institution," Bondar told Polish media, adding that more than a dozen priests have been convicted of pedophilia in Poland.

The priest convicted of abusing Marin K when he was a child was sentenced in 2012 but his diocese refused to accept financial liability.

More than 33 million of Poland's 38.5 people say they are Roman Catholic. Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, Archbishop of Warsaw, presides over 44 dioceses comprising about 10,000 parishes and religious orders.


The Polish Roman Catholic population increased after the decimation of Jewish Poles during the Holocaust and loss of territory with other religious minorities during and after World War II.

The Polish Roman Catholic Church began coming under spotlight in recent years as reporting of child abuse in churches across Europe gained momentum. In Poland, influential church lobbies managed to bury incidents cited in news media, and church leaders refused to apologize or agree to compensation.

Marcin K's lawsuit requires Polish Roman Catholic Church leaders to print an apology in the national media as well as settle the compensation claim.

The Polish Papal Nuncio to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, 65, faced charges last year of molesting boys and was recalled to Rome.

The United Nations this week joined its voice to calls for tougher action against child abusers among Catholic clergy.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, in a report this week, denounced the Vatican for adopting policies allowing priests to sexually abuse thousands of children. It said the Vatican should "immediately remove" all clergy who were known or suspected child abusers.

Former Pope Benedict is reported to have defrocked at least 400 priests found to have been involved with child abuse.


Child abuse isn't limited to a religious denomination and is reported to be rampant among Afghanistan's Taliban, independent data show.

Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security published documents, including witness accounts, that show military mullahs of the Taliban who trained boys to become fighters sexually abused them during the training. Hundreds of other boys not recruited for paramilitary missions were molested by senior cadres in the Taliban leadership, Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security says.

The NDS reports were verified by independent researchers, including non-governmental organizations.

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