Polish Catholic archbishop asks for coadjutor after Vatican negligence probe

Archbishop Wiktor Skworc of Katowice, Poland. / Adrian Tync via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Krakow, Poland, Jul 9, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

A Polish Catholic archbishop has asked for a coadjutor following a Vatican probe into his handling of clerical abuse cases.

The archdiocese of Kraków announced on July 9 the conclusions of the investigation into the actions of Archbishop Wiktor Skworc of Katowice, southern Poland.

In a statement, Kraków archdiocese said that the Vatican had investigated claims that Skworc behaved negligently concerning abuse cases involving two priests of the Diocese of Tarnów, which Skworc led from 1998 to 2011.

Tarnów, in southeastern Poland, is a suffragan diocese of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kraków.

The inquiry was conducted according to the provisions of the Code of Canon Law and Pope Francis’ 2019 motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

The Kraków archdiocese statement said that Skworc had requested the investigation himself and that, following its conclusion, he had asked for a coadjutor archbishop, who would assist him with the administration of the archdiocese.

The 73-year-old archbishop resigned as a member of the permanent council of the Polish bishops’ conference.

He also resigned as chairman of the Polish bishops’ committee for pastoral care

In addition, he promised to contribute from his private funds to the expenses of Tarnów diocese related to issues of sexual abuse.

Since November 2020, the Vatican has disciplined a series of mainly retired Polish bishops after investigating negligence claims.

On June 28, Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski resigned as bishop of Legnica, southwestern Poland, days before his 75th birthday after a Vos estis probe into his handling of clerical abuse cases.

Days earlier, the Vatican took action against two other Polish bishops after investigations.

Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, a former aide to St. John Paul II, is facing a Vatican investigation into claims that he mishandled abuse cases while serving as archbishop of Kraków from 2005 to 2016.

The Catholic Church in Poland announced last month that it had received 368 allegations of clerical abuse in the past two and a half years.

The claims relate to abuse reportedly committed by 292 priests and religious between 1958 and 2020.

A report released June 28 by the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church said that the allegations were made between July 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2020.

In a message to Catholics in Katowice archdiocese, which he has led since 2011, Skworc said that he accepted the results of the Vatican inquiry and made “a sincere and humble request for forgiveness” to those who were wronged and their families.

He insisted that in his 10 years as archbishop of Katowice, he had followed procedures concerning abuse cases correctly.

He said: “I make no secret of the fact that in my 24th year as bishop I am experiencing the most difficult moments of my life, therefore I trust in Divine Providence and ask for your support in prayer, especially in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.”

“I ask the clergy of the archdiocese and people in consecrated life for the same support and understanding. Let us together cry out for mercy for us and for the whole world.”

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