The church cannot judge its own case

The church has as much power as we give it. Currently society consents to the rape of more children.

Agata Diduszko-Zyglewska talks with Marek Lisiński, President of the “Do Not Fear” Foundation which works to change our society’s consent to such practice and to help victims of pedophile priests.

Agata Diduszko-Zyglewska: As a child, you were abused by a local priest. Can you tell your story?

Marek Lisiński: My story is similar to many others. Since I established the Foundation, I have heard many stories with recurring motifs about the lack of safety in the rectory, the church, the catechetical room; about a perpetrator who inspires trust, takes on the role of a father, gives a sense of acceptance, and wins the trust of the family. Often he first binds the child with a secret. For example, he shows pornography and says: it’s just between us. I’m show you this because I trust you. But in the end it always the same, he uses the situation he’s constructed; he takes the child for a sleepover or on a trip and rapes them.

My incident took place in 1981. I looked up to the priest from the local church. Emotionally, he replaced my absent father. I became an altar boy and assisted during the Mass. For a boy from a poor family it was a great honor. I was thirteen. Maybe teens today are more sexually educated but back then the priest used my ignorance. Now I know that he was satisfying his sexual needs not only with me. The Vatican verdict states that “many facts and evidence may indicate that the accused may be repeat offender.”

Was your family strongly associated with the Church?

No. I just went to religion classes in the catechetical room and the priest suggested that I be an altar boy. I got a surplice, and Mom was so happy. Parents often experience elation, because in larger parishes it is difficult to be selected. Our parish was not too big – six or seven villages. Becoming a scripture reader scripture during the Mass was a great honor.

The priest’s invitation for you to spend the night with him did not cause any anxiety for your Mother or other people?

No. The priest has great authority in the countryside; he is a representative of God. People have complete confidence in him. There was always an excuse. For example, we were making notes for rosaries and he asked my mom if I could stay overnight to help him. I do not understand the behavior of a mother or other parents who allow such things: a trip alone with a priest or a night out with him without others present? If such a proposal were made by teacher or a policeman, no one would simply hand over a child to him.

The priest has great authority in the countryside; he is a representative of God.

At that time, a priest could befriend a family by offering to help obtain food or cleaning products because he had better access to those products than ordinary citizens. I was not the only boy invited to spend the night; but every boy was always alone, so I do not know how their relationships looked.

Nobody talked about it in the village? Did the children did not talk to each other?

My uncle lived three houses away from my mother. Social life took place on the benches in front of the houses. On these benches, people often laughed at the fact that the priest liked the boys. I had no idea what the word “liked” meant then. Only later did I realize that these adults simply knew all about it. When the court proceedings were underway I went to various villages in the parish and people said, “Give it a rest; you know how it is.” They knew, but they were afraid to react. This reminds me of the story from Marcin Kącki’s book about Poznań’s Nightingales (the famous all-boys choir in Poland, members of which were for many years sexually abused by the conductor). In that case, parents knew the conductor abused children and yet they sent their own children to him. Society’s silent acceptance allows these situations to continue. It’s terrible for children.

What did you think about what happened back then? How aware are children at this age?

I did not understand what sexuality meant then and that there are boundaries which adults do not cross. A boy is completely helpless and confused when a man who is important starts to touch him in an intimate place on the body and to masturbate. On top of this, the perpetrator warns you not to tell anyone because something terrible will then happen such as “mummy will die and you will not go to heaven.” For many years, like other victims, I felt guilty and was afraid of comments like: “Why did you go there? You could have refused to go again!” If I knew then what I know now, I surely would not have returned, never! But, as a thirteen-year-old kid, I was completely manipulated.

I did not know how to talk about it and I was afraid. After all, children are usually not trusted. When a child complains about an adult he most often hears: do not lie. And he often gets spanked. Many children live in environments where they are labeled and such labels cannot be changed easily.

Only later did I realize that these adults simply knew all about it.

How long did this situation last?

It was continuous from the Spring to December 13, 1981. This happened to be the beginning of martial law. I came home that morning and I did not go to the children’s mass anymore. I do not know how I managed to stop going there. Maybe it was a combination of disgust and disagreement, but it certainly did not seem to me that it was bad. At that time I longed for my father who left me when I was ten. The priest took advantage of this emptiness. He soon ceased to meet the conditions of a figure that could replace my father because of what he did to me. Although I reviewed the events during many therapy sessions, I do not remember the single impulse that freed me.

I left the priest at around eight o’clock in the morning. I walked through the village wondering how I would tell my mom that I would not go back there. When I entered the house, I screamed at my mother and grandparents what I had to tell them, butthey did not believe me. They said: “You are lying, leave us.” I did leave; and that is the moment when I became an adult. In such a situation, a barrier between a child and his family is erected and it is impossible to overcome. I never trusted anyone again. Until 2009, I did not talk about it.

How did this change in your perception of the world affect your everyday life?

When I left home that Sunday, my thinking changed. I soon moved to a boarding school in a nearby village where my grandparents lived there; but in four years I visited them only a few times because they did not know anything. They were upset that I did not visit them, but I did not want to experience the sense of loss that I felt with the rest of the family. They didn’t understand why I did not come; and I never had the opportunity to tell them why. I know I inflicted pain on them. But this is how it works. The perpetrator hurts the child, and the harm is imposed upon all subsequent relationships.

As a result of the abuse I began to do various things and I only learned about the connection in therapy. When I was fourteen I started to drink. When I was in my second year, a young teacher came to the boarding house and asked me why I was drinking. He was the only person who noticed it. For a very long time I could not overcome the victim syndrome. Even as an adult I feared my perpetrator. It is a feeling that this person can hurt you again, and it is very difficult to defeat. I was dependent upon alcohol until 36. I had a family and children, but everything happened in the shadow of alcoholism.

What was the turning point?

I went to therapy to deal with the alcohol. Of course, I thought they would just teach me to drink in a controlled manner. At first I was a difficult challenge for the therapists. I could not allow myself to think that I harmed others. It was an eight week program at a treatment center and patients went away for Christmas. A therapist did not want me to leave the center at all because she was afraid I would drink. She was probably correct. But, a talk with my son during the holidays allowed me to return to therapy as a completely different person; and I started to work hard on my sobriety.

There were further therapies, and the fact that I was abused came out during a personal development program in Warsaw with an amazing therapist. Thanks to him I understood how much I resented my paternal grandparents for not supporting me. However, they could not because they did not know anything. In my young head I felt that they should have known it. It was in 2009, and my grandparents were no longer alive.

In 2010, I moved out of the house. I started all over again. When I discovered that the perpetrator continued to work as a priest I wrote a letter to the bishop. I was not invited but rather was requested to come to the Secretary of the Curia. After a while, I got a call to the bishop’s court for a hearing.

What was the hearing in the bishop’s court like?

It lasted almost three hours and was a nightmare. There was a massive table where the priests sat. It was arranged so that the person giving testimony would feel tiny. I became severely frightened and began to shake. I was not only required to recall the events in graphic detail, but also to defend bizarre charges made by my perpetrator.

Strangely, it turned from a discussion of his pedophilic actions to whether I robbed the money box in the church. The perpetrator felt that this fact undermined my credibility. He accused me of borrowing money from him as a child, not returning it; and claimed that this is why, after so many years, I accused him of pedophilic behavior. That sounds absurd, right? No one on his own initiative would remind the person to whom he owed money of his existence.

They also asked me about the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that I started in my village.

For the next three weeks I did not leave the house.

For the next three weeks I did not leave the house.

Where you there alone or did someone support you legally or psychologically?

Until now, the victim was required to testify by himself without anyone present. Now, new guidelines of the Polish Episcopal Conference allow the victim to be accompanied by a psychologist, a trusted person or a lawyer. This is an important change because I, as a victim, was unable to properly respond when the interrogation was primarily concerned with my life and I mean all of my life; and failed to address the offenses of the pedophile perpetrator.

How did the perpetrator know about what you did later in life?

He went to the various places where I lived. He collected gossip about me, but, more demoralizing he began to describe me as a thief and a criminal with his stories. I did not know how to defend myself against these rumors. I desperately wanted to go to my village, to stand on the main square and shout; but I knew that it would not change anything. The perpetrator was talking to my family members and the authorities. He went to one of my sisters and approached another. He was looking to make contact with my sons! Under his the influence, the mayor of my town wrote me a letter that admonished: “Mr. Mark, the Lord God taught us to forgive.” I was known in town, because I began to be active socially when I stopped drinking; and I established various support groups. The perpetrator wanted to undermine my credibility.

After the priest’s visit to one of my colleagues, the poor man told me that I had ruined his life. I suspect that he may have been a victim and perhaps it all came back to him years later. Many people cannot cope with the memories. Sometimes the perpetrator persuades the victim’s parents to persuade him to remain silent. What can one do if a parent says: “Just forget about it”? Some just take another antidepressant and live on. From the hundreds of letters we receive only a few are able to identify themselves. Many are able to tell their story only anonymously.

How did you respond to the perpetrator’s attack?

Initially, when I approached the bishop, I was convinced that it was a matter between me and the bishop. I did not want publicity. When he attacked me, I felt that if I did not publicize the matter, I would effectively give permission for what he did. That’s why I decided I had to stop being afraid of him and act more openly.

I waited for the Vatican’s verdict for two years. Finally I got it in the form of a registered letter. I learned that I was probably not the only victim of this man. It also turned out that the perpetrator filed a lawsuit against me for perjury and violating his personal rights! It was strange. I never disclosed his name publicly. I also acted incognito. For example, in the TV program by Tomasz Lis, only people who knew my voice could recognize me.

In the meantime, the perpetrator called upon the headmaster of the school where he taught as a catechist. The headmaster later testified that she had seen me accuse the priest by name on the internet. Her testimony was supported by her husband. Of course I did not do it, but I even searched with my attorney for entries, because I thought someone might have set me up. I could find nothing. After the Vatican’s verdict, the Church persuaded the perpetrator to withdraw his accusations against me.

What was the verdict of the Vatican?

The perpetrator was sentenced to a suspension of three years from pastoral duties and was banned from working with children for the remainder of his life.

I would expect that after it is proven that a priest raped a child he would be immediately excluded from the clerical state by an institution that is supposed to defend the weak and innocent. This verdict is curious in that the Vatican believed the victim, but then as punishment only temporarily suspended the perpetrator from celebrating Mass.

Yes, it’s not a punishment. This man is still a priest. If he celebrates Mass, he must be in contact with the altar boys and children who come to Mass. I do not know where he is now, but I do know that he has not been removed from the priesthood. His photo is on the site of the diocese.

Yes, it’s not a punishment. This man is still a priest.

This is despite all the “facts and clues” mentioned in the Vatican verdict that indicates that this man could have harmed other children. I understand that you do not have access to these facts and circumstantial evidence?

No. Victims usually do not know each other. The bishop of Płock may be aware of other cases as he is the superior of the perpetrator. During the proceedings conducted by the Church, victims do not have the right to inspect any files. We can only give testimony. Then the matter is conducted without us. Not everyone gets a verdict in writing. I am the only person in Poland who has been sent a Vatican verdict.

I tried to look for other victims. I drove around the places where he was a pastor, but it was taboo. This man changed parishes. I do not know if there were more cases of abuse out there. I do not know if he continues to endanger children. That’s why I went to court with this case.

Does a Vatican ruling which recognizes someone as a perpetrator oblige the Church to hand over the matter to secular law enforcement?

It depends. Pedophile offenses are subject to a statutory limitation and expire once the victim turns thirty under Polish law. Thus, older victims cannot file a criminal claim against the perpetrator. The bishops’ courts do not want to examine the cases because of the statute of limitation period.

Our Foundation and other international associations which represent victims are fighting to ensure that there are no statutes of limitation that would bar claims. On the other hand, an amendment of the Polish law, which will come into force in July  requires persons who are aware of abuse to notify authorities. So bishops will have to notify the prosecutor about any current matters. After I obtained the Vatican verdict, I filed a civil suit where I demanded an apology and redress.

Marek Lisiński. Photo by Jakub Szafrański.

How did the perpetrator react to such developments?

The priest continues to declare that he is not guilty, and he continues to make absurd claims such as the allegation that I was never an altar boy! He called false witnesses. I wrote about it to the bishop. The bishop replied that actions had been taken and that the priest would no longer harass me.

Yet the priest continued to drive around and influence people in such a way that even a childhood friend told me, after his visit, that he did not remember me being an altar boy. A much older priest also testified at the trial that I was never an altar boy. Because of the very significant age difference, I could not possibly have known the man nor could he have knowledge of what was done to me.

The arrogance of the perpetrator and his feelings of impunity are incredible. During the trial he attacked my mother, who cannot defend herself, as she has long been dead. He said that I could not have been an altar boy because I came from a pathological family. I could not stand it. The judge did caution the priest at that time. He does not feel any remorse. During the hearings he looks me straight in the eye and laughs. Then, after a short break, he simply returns to work. I have to face the fact that he will never be held criminally liable.

If you continue on this path, you will be excluded from the clergy.

As stated in the Vatican verdict: “the accused did not express sincerity in the reparation for his wrongdoings”.

At one of the hearings, even the lawyer of the Church told him and his lawyer aloud: “if you continue on this path, you will be excluded from the clergy.”

I understand that you have many witnesses who went to Mass and can confirm that you were an altar boy.

I do not have many witnesses. I have no photos and of course I have no access to the parish books. My mom and grandparents are dead so proving simple things is not so easy. The actions of the perpetrator caused the community to turn away from me; i.e. I am the bad one. Only one of my colleagues of that time, who no longer lives in the village and thus is somewhat less afraid, dared to write a letter to the court. His letter confirmed that I was an altar boy. Unfortunately he was unable to testify personally as he is a sailor and returns to Poland every six months.

I tried to reach couples who were married in the village church when I was an altar boy. I attended the weddings and hoped that I might be visible in some of the wedding photos. No one wanted to share photos with me. The most common questions were: “Why are you doing this? Is it for money? Drop it. Why dig up the past?” Many people in my situation are faced with such reactions. Believers who discuss this topic during confession are usually persuaded to remain silent. Those who are more connected with the Church surrender because they want to remain part of the community. I believe that their submission is akin to consenting to the perpetrator’s continued abuse. I cannot accept that.

Have you had the opportunity to ask those in your village who have made a false statement about why they did it?

No. I am unable to make eye contact with them. They testified with lowered heads. I could not stand it. I was so upset by such absurdities that I had to leave the courtroom, but the judge asked me to come back.

This matter is important not only for me. Judgment in my civil trial will be the first time a civil court has issued a verdict in a case where a Vatican verdict has been issued. Whether the Polish court will consider the Vatican’s verdict will be of paramount interest and will set a precedent.

I understand that the Foundation is trying to persuade victims to file claims with the prosecutor’s office and to bring civil cases regardless of the statute of limitation.

We advise every person who comes to us for help to file a claim. There may be other charges which may have been filed against the perpetrator and which are not barred. The additional evidence provided by any new claims could assist the court in properly assessing the scale of a perpetrator’s actions. Even if someone gets a letter that the claim is barred due to the statute of limitation, it provides a trail for investigators in the prosecutor’s office.

When was the first time you met another victim of a pedophile priest?

The first time was when Ekke Overbeek invited me to participate in a movie about the victims. I was anonymous then. Then Ekke wrote a book, Fear: The Victims of Pedophiles in the Polish Church Speak Out, in which he presented more stories. I decided to make contact with four people and we met. We started talking about working together.t It was the work of a Dutch journalist from which our Foundation of Polish victims was established. I am very grateful for it.

I traveled with Ekke to a conference in Dublin that was organized by SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). I saw there what a global problem it is. I thought that the publication of Overbeek’s book in Poland would result in a commission, composed of lawyers, experts, representatives of the church and the victims; being established as was happening in the West. I thought all political parties would support us. Unfortunately, this was not the response in Poland.

In Poland the Catholic Church is much stronger than in the Netherlands or Germany. However, we also know that politicians are forced to act only after communications (filings of court claims and massive evidence) reach a critical mass.

I just wonder how much information is needed about the rape of children to commence the process. Several dozen perpetrators have been sentenced in recent years, with more than a dozen cases pending. In a published TV interview in March, Marcin Przeciszewski, editor-in-chief of the Catholic Information Agency, said: “From my conversations with bishops it is clear that in every single Polish diocese there is a problem with a few or several priests. Of course I’m only talking about cases that have been detected. ”

You have notified the public prosecutor about this.

Yes, because it scares me. There are fourteen archdioceses in Poland and twenty-seven dioceses. One perpetrator does not mean one victim. According to the head of Catholic Information Agency, it is clear that there should be several hundred, not a dozen or so proceedings pending in Poland. He should be questioned as a witness and be asked to give the prosecutor information about the pedophiles provided by the bishops to him. The new law, which is effective in July, requires the bishops to provide all information directly to the prosecutor. Meanwhile, Father Żak, the Coordinator for Children and Youth Protection, says he cannot create a pedophile registry of priests because bishops do not provide him with data.

What was the prosecutor’s response to your notification?

There has been no response until now. We are waiting for an answer.

The Episcopate is proud to have drafted guidelines for dealing with issues related to ecclesiastical pedophilia. I know you’re not a fan of this document.

The Episcopal guidelines do not meet Western standards. The key provision is that the perpetrators incur sole responsibility as individuals. So the Church first protects the perpetrator, covers up his acts, and transfers him from one parish to another. Finally, when the matter is disclosed, the church rids itself of responsibility for anything and the victims are left with no ability to demand redress.

The guidelines contain provisions regarding psychological and legal assistance from the Church. Can we really believe that a lawyer hired by the Church will seek damages for the victims of this institution? More than a hundred victims associated with the Foundation spoke with one voice in this matter: We do not wish help from a church whose agents have harmed us, because whoever will be required to pay may be manipulated. That was the case in Bydgoszcz. The Church’s lawyer offered to represent the victim in all claims against the perpetrator provided that she waive all claims for compensation from the Church itself.

One most controversial point of the guidelines is the provision that the Church may require a site visit to the scene of the crime. This is a nightmare for the victim. Many are simply incapable of returning to the place where the rape took place. The Church is to decide whether or not it is required? How can something like that be required at all?

The Church is to decide whether or not it is required? How can something like that be required at all?

The Episcopal document provides that acts against the sixth commandment may constitute grounds for abuse. So at the outset it seems clear that a critical focus is not on the protection of children from perpetrators, but the protection of priests from slander.

Truly, victims are not the main focus of this document. The Church cannot really be a judge in its own case. That is why we ask for a neutral, independent commission to determine what has to be done, and how to protect other children. The government should represent the interests of those who have been abused by members of a powerful institution. In Ireland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands; such commissions have drafted credible reports and prepared appropriate guidelines. The results of their work shocked every country each time it was revealed that there are thousands of perpetrators. The Australians determined that perpetrators accounted for up to 30% of all monks in some religious orders.

The coordinator for the protection of children and youth should also probably seek the establishment of such a commission, but Father Żak seems extremely ineffective in his role.

Żak claims that there is no record of perpetrators and that he has no knowledge of ongoing canonical proceedings regarding abuse. He claims to have no knowledge of the numbers and does not follow the cases. This is obviously true. When the case of Kasia became very public; wherein it became known that she was kidnapped and raped by a priest for many months, Father Żak admitted on the program “Hello, TVN” that he did not know about it. This was after the publication of an article in the Large Format weekly. According to the Vatican’s guidelines, dioceses should have given him information, but I have the feeling that many of the Vatican’s guidelines have a footnote that they do not apply to Poland.

This ineffectiveness of the coordinator is amazing. When the Church demands the return of its real property that was confiscated, it usually does not pray and “feel the pain” of anyone, but requests that the government appoint a commission and recover or acquire what it demands.

Thus far the Church in Poland has paid no compensation of any kind too any victim. In the case against the diocese of Koszalin, there was a settlement on the basis of which the victim received 150,000 zlotys ( approximately 35,000 Euro), not as a just compensation but as goodwill of the Christian bishop, so the Church again could avoid admitting to guilt. The words “we apologize” were not spoken. They are never spoken. Sometimes the media report that the bishop apologized. This is completely false! At best, the bishop states that he feels sorrow or that he shares the pain of the victim. None of these statements mean “we apologize.”

Have you managed to establish a dialogue with one of the Polish politicians on the establishment of a parliamentary commission?

As a Foundation, we are apolitical. We are not associated with any particular party. On the other hand we are keenly aware that without politicians we can achieve nothing. Only politicians can set up a commission or invite us to talk to lawyers and the church representatives.

Unfortunately, until now, no politician has dared to take this matter seriously. In 2014, the then Deputy Marshal of the Parliament, Wanda Nowicka, came to a meeting of the Foundation and agreed to support the establishment of a commission, but nothing came of it . Of the politicians in the previous Parliament to whom we wrote, only one member, Mr. Ryfinski, replied. He had the idea that he would dress us up in black hoods, give us axes, and we could play the roles of the Church’s executioners. We did not agree to this type of ridiculous action. Neither Mr. Palikot nor anyone else responded to our requests. During this term of the Parliament only Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, a member of the Nowoczesna, or Modern, party, has shown interest in our issue and the establishment of a commission; but nothing has happened as of yet.

Why do such difficulties arise?

I believe there is a fear of the power of the Church, fear of loss of votes of those voters who listen to the propaganda from the church pulpits. After all, in Poland most leftists or atheists baptize children out of fear of ostracism if they don’t. Everyone feels comfortable to criticize the church while in their own home, but fall silent as soon as they are outside it. I am often subjected to serious criticism, but I will never quit.

I am often subjected to serious criticism, but I will never quit.

In the beginning everyone was afraid. You did not appear under your own name.

I was afraid of being judged, afraid of being ostracized, and afraid of being rejected by the ones I loved. My fears turned out to be real in that those things came true. Remote family members rejected me. That is why so many people are silent. They worry about their own wellbeing, but they also worry about their loved ones. They may lose their jobs. Some journalists are afraid to write about these matters under their own name.

There were times when I wanted to give up and stop. At one point, the Foundation took everything from me. I travelled across Poland to meet victims at my own expense because the Foundation does not have sufficient funds.

Maybe you should try to get volunteers?

It is difficult to find someone who will help for free. Finding an institution to provide us with a room for monthly support group meetings took a long time. Some time ago, a graphic designer wrote to us that priestly abuse is an important topic, that we are doing great job and that she would be happy to help! When I asked if she could make a poster for us, she agreed to do it for five hundred zlotys. We need small things: translation of a document, editing, preparation of a poster. Unfortunately, I cannot do them and they become obstacles that are difficult to overcome when there are no funds to pay.

I would like to make free legal advice or psychological help (even limited in scope) available to victims in every provincial town. Unfortunately our efforts to advocate various centers for this activity have been unsuccessful. People from other countries are incredulous to hear that these centers do not even reply to our letters.

A concrete example can be found through the famous theatre play about church pedophilia. The first public presentation of the play was combined with fundraising for the Foundation. The event was highly publicized with many famous Warsovians in attendance. I found 138 zlotys and two cigarette butts in the donation cans. At a related fundraising in Puszczykowo, where also many people took part, we collected less than 600 zlotys [.

I do not know what to say … It does not speak well about our empathy.

Professor Monika Platek rightly stated that the Church has as much power as we, the society, give it. This situation precisely shows the sad truth about our society. It is the society that succumbs to the institution and gives consent to raping children. Nothing will change until we assign the fault to the Church and ensure that the Church is unable to shift the blame to individual offenders.

How can we support you?

We have a page on our foundation’s website that provides instructions on how we can be supported. Some are afraid to deposit funds into our account fearing they will be recorded as supporting these types of activities so instead people can use PayPal. There is a lot of traffic on the site and a good bit from surprisingly strange places such as Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. It happens that there are Polish priests there! We sometimes muse that maybe the perpetrators are checking to see whether they have been identified.

Concrete stories certainly have an effect on peoples’ consciences as was the case with the story of Kasia described by Justyna Kopińska. But it is apparently more difficult to support the Foundation itself instead of individual victims; and that is especially true because the funds must be used to cover even simple things like the cost of gas.

In-person meetings with victims constitute one of my primary duties because victims are sometimes afraid to leave their homes. A meeting in Warsaw, Poznan or Krakow is impossible for them. They are terrified of being unmasked and stigmatized. Because of this fear they do not come to the protests. While they know solidarity is a key, they do not know how to overcome their terrible trauma. They are constantly hearing stories like the one about the mayor of Chojnice, who is in favor of in vitro fertilization procedures, so the bishop told him that he would not be able to carry the cross during the Easter procession. All of this is depressing.

I attend various small town meetings where I merely talk, and listen to the stories of adult victims or to the history of parents who struggle with the harm done to their child. The opportunity for them to talk and to obtain information on how they can proceed is extremely important to them.

Post scriptum

After talking with Marek Lisiński I wrote a letter to the Płock curia, in which I asked the following questions about the perpetrator:

Is XXX presently providing pastoral services, i.e. does he conduct or attend Mass? Are these masses in which children can participate? And if so, did the curia make sure that the parents of these children were aware that the priest-pedophile participates in the Mass?

What “facts and clues” mentioned in the Vatican verdict indicate that priest XXX is a repeat offender in terms of sexual abuse against children? How many children did he abuse in total? Are all these cases barred by the statute of limitation? In connection with cases that were not barred by the statute of limitation, has the curia has notified the prosecutor about the possibility of that a crime has been committed?

Why, due to the facts set out in the Vatican verdict (lack of remorse or willingness to repent, suspected repeat offenses), which imply that the perpetrator has no moral qualification to teach the faithful and can be dangerous to children, do the Church authorities not expel him from the priesthood?

The reply from the curia came a few days later and was concise:

“Dear Editor,

I would like to convey that we do not provide information on this matter.

Yours faithfully.

Spokesman of the Diocesan Curia in Płock”

Translated into English by Anna Frankowska, a partner at the Warsaw office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, a New York-based law firm, who has been assisting the Do not Fear Foundation on a pro bono basis.


Agata Diduszko-Zyglewska
Graduate of English studies at Warsaw University and the Gardzienice Academy for Theatre Practices. Journalist, cultural activist, translator, member of the Social Dialogue Committee for Culture. Member of the Political Critique Team.