Sex Abuse Cover-Up Generates Print and Online Campaign Directed at Pope Francis by Polish Advocacy Group

“THE LACK OF A DECISIVE reaction by the church hierarchy to reports of reprehensible behavior by some bishops is cause for public scandal and harms the good of the church,” read a fullpage advertisement taken out in Rome’s daily La Repubblica newspaper on June 29. Placed by Polish group EnoughHarm, the ad went on to encourage Pope Francis to “repair our church” by acknowledging and making amends for the harm done to victims of sexual abuse.

In response to EnoughHarm’s appeal, Spokesman for the Vatican Matteo Bruni told the Associated Press (AP) that the pope had been informed about both the group’s ad and a corresponding online petition on the group’s website. Bruni assured the AP that “The church must do everything possible so that canonical norms are applied, that cases of abuse are brought to light and those guilty of the crimes are punished.” In addition, he stated, “The Holy Father was informed about the appeal and prays for those who sent it.”

Hoping to encourage an intervention in sexual molestation cases in which bishops stand accused of covering for abusive priests, Enough-Harm’s ad comes in the wake of Pope Francis’ 2019 alteration of canon law allowing for the punishment of bishops found to have ignored or actively concealed the actions of abusive priests. At the time of EnoughHarm’s ad, an investigation into the conduct of Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki for covering up clerical abuse was already underway, with an additional investigation into Kielce Seminary being opened by the Vatican’s Office of the Clergy close to the time EnoughHarm’s appeal was published in La Reppublica.

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