Polish Catholic Church expects ‘wave’ of child sex abuse reports after release of film on paedophilia

Poland’s Catholic Church says it is expecting a "wave" of reports of child sex abuse by priests as it struggles to cope with the impact of a new film on paedophilia in the church that has been seen by millions.

The crowd-funded two-hour-long film ‘Just Don’t Tell Anyone’ has so far had over 14 million views on YouTube in just three days, and proved to be a sensation in Poland while appearing to deliver a hammer blow to the moral credibility of the Catholic Church.

The film, which hears the accounts of victims and some confessions from their abusers, has already prompted Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the head of Poland’s episcopate, to issue an apology to “all those harmed” but now the Church appears to be bracing itself for an avalanche of sexual abuse allegations.

“So far Poland has not seen the huge increases in reported cases as seen in other countries,” said Father Piotr Studnicki, from the Church’s Centre for Child Protection, during a television interview. “But that wave is probably coming.”

The Catholic Church has also said that it will re-open old cases and start new investigations in response to the material shown in the documentary.

Reacting to the film Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice, Poland’s governing party, said the government was preparing changes to the penal code that would introduce sentences of up to 30 years for child abuse.

The film could also have an influence on the European elections later this month.

Before its release Law and Justice had sought to make political capital by portraying itself as the defender of the Catholic Church and conservative values, with Mr Kaczynski even going as far to say that “anyone who raises their hand against the Church, raises their hand against Poland”.

But his party now risks being tainted by the scandal engulfing the Church, and opposition parties have been quick to exploit the possibility. Grzegorz Schetyna, the leader of Civic Platform, Poland’s main opposition party, has already parodied his opponent’s words by saying “anyone who raises their hand against children, raises their hand against Poland”.  

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