Poland: Film stokes debate about sexual abuse

By On October 01, 2018

Poland: Film stokes debate about sexual abuse

We use cookies to improve our service for you. You can find more information in our data protection declaration.

More info OK
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Suche
  5. Choose from 30 Languages
  • Albanian Shqip
  • Amharic አማርኛ
  • Arabic العربية
  • Bengali বাংলা
  • Bosnian B/H/S
  • Bulgarian Ð'ългарски
  • Chinese (Simplified) 简
  • Chinese (Traditional) 繁
  • Croatian Hrvatski
  • Dari دری
  • English English
  • French Français
  • German Deutsch
  • Greek Ελληνικά
  • Hausa Hausa
  • Hindi हिन्दी
  • Indonesian Indonesia
  • Kiswahili Kiswahili
  • Macedonian Македонски
  • Pashto پښتو
  • Persian Ù Ø§Ø±Ø³ÛŒ
  • Polish Polski
  • Portuguese Português para África
  • Portuguese Português do Brasil
  • Romanian Română
  • Russian Русский
  • Serbian Српски/Srpski
  • Spanish Español
  • Turkish Türkçe
  • Ukrainian Українська
  • Urdu اردو
Wrong language? Change it here DW.COM has chosen English as your language setting.

Europe

Poland: Film stokes debate about sexual abuse

The film "Kler" ("Clergy") has only just been released in Poland. Hardly anyone has seen it yet, but already it's adding fuel to the fire in the debate about abuse within the country's powerful Catholic Church.

Film Kler aus Polen (KLER/Bartek Mrozowski)

The film had a lready been labelled controversial long before it arrived in cinemas. Now it has, and demand is so high that some movie theaters are screening "Kler" up to 20 times a day. On the other hand, there are also municipalities with conservative local authorities that don't want it in their cinemas at all. Director Wojciech Smarzowski could hardly dream of better advertising.

The subject matter is one of the hottest topics currently being debated in Poland: How priests deal with money, power and sexuality. And pedophilia. There are many people who want to participate in this debate, especially as it's taking place in a country where almost half the population regularly attends church on Sundays and more than 90 percent are baptized Catholics.

Read more: Poland's Catholic Church seen as moral authority

Initial reactions are split. The association of Catholic journalists regarded the film as "anti-Catholic" and "anti-Polis h," while a reviewer from the liberal-Catholic magazine Wiez described it as "superficial" and "clichéd." However, many others believe the film is breaking a taboo, and that this may be able to initiate a long-overdue process of addressing the issue.

A small hotel for boys

"Without journalists or filmmakers the subject of pedophilia would be completely suppressed," Piotr Krysiak confirms. In 2017 Krysiak published the book Wyspa Slepcow ("The Island of the Blind"), after flying to the Dominican Republic on six occasions to conduct research.

A scene from the film Kler (KLER/Bartek Mrozowski)

The film "Kler" tackles how clergy deal with money, power and sexuality

There he met the Polish priest Wojciech G., a nice man, who receiv ed him warmly and told him about his life in the Caribbean. Krysiak had been looking for Poles who lived on the island. At the time, the only thing that seemed odd to him was that the priest ran a small hotel for boys from his house.

Read more: How the Catholic Church ties in to Poland's judicial reform

Wojciech G. has been in prison for more than four years now. He abused a number of boys. Krysiak spoke to two of his victims. "He abused children in Marki, near Warsaw, too," Krysiak says. "No one believed them. They were talking about a priest, after all, an object of trust."

Constant dripping wears away stone

There are no official figures detailing abuse in the Catholic Church in Poland. According to Polish media, 27 Catholic priests were sentenced in the years 2002-2012. The foundation Nie lekajcie sie ("Do not fear") says that many more sentences were never made public. The foundation is cur rently helping 300 people who say they were victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The Polish public have strong feelings on this subject. In an opinion poll published last week in the daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, four-fifths of respondents said pedophilia was a problem in the church. Almost three-quarters called for complete transparency and clarification of the issue.

A poster for the film Kler

However, director Smarzowski doesn't believe the church will truly address these accusations of its own accord. "The examples from Europe show that without pressure from the state, without secular commissions, the church does not compensate its victims," he says.

The director had previously complained that no one had had the courage to thoroughly investigate cases of abuse in the Caribbean, but then came Krysiak's book, which was a revelation for him: "Constant dripping wea rs away stone," he said. In response, Krysiak goes one step further: "Smarzowski's film is not a drop. It's the wedge that splits the stone apart."

Read more: Sexual abuse goes far beyond Germany's Catholic Church

'Poland is just at the beginning'

He may be right. The Polish Bishops' Conference recently announced that there will be a report on the investigation. As early as November the church intends to publish figures about the extent of the abuse, and in future all dioceses must implement prevention programs.

A scene from the film Kler (KLER/Bartek Mrozowski)

"Kler" has been called anti-Catholic and anti-Polish but also a taboo-breaker

"It's about sensitizing both priests and lay people to protect children and young people, and to deal with the suffering of the victims," Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the primate of Poland, said last week at the conclusion of the general assembly of the Bishops' Conference.

"If we compare ourselves with other countries, I have to admit that Poland is just at the beginning," says Artur Sporniak, an editor with the Catholic weekly paper Tygodnik Powszechny. "I am cautiously optimistic," he adds.

DW recommends

Clergy sex abuse in film and literature

The German Catholic Church's study on the sexual abuse of minors by clergy members recognizes thousands of victims. Movies have often portrayed their plight. German author Bodo Kirchhoff revealed his own personal story. (26.09.2018)

Opinion: Catholic Church must change

The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, in the face of a growing abuse scandal, has said the Catholic Church has reached a " ;turning point." Anything else would be irresponsible, says DW's Christoph Strack. (25.09.2018)

German Catholic Church reveals scale of sexual abuse

The scope of sex abuse within Germany's Catholic Church has been laid out for all to see following a four-year investigation. Head bishop Cardinal Reinhard Marx admitted that the church has lost public trust. (25.09.2018)

Sexual abuse goes far beyond Germany's Catholic Church

Germany's Catholic Church is grappling with revelations that its clergy sexually abused more than 3,600 children over decades. Sexual violence is a problem for all institutions in which kids are dependent on adults. (25.09.2018)

How the Catholic Church ties in to Poland's judicial reform

The row about the planned reform of the judiciary in Poland is religiously charged. It exposes the close relationship between the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and the coun try's conservative clergy. (24.07.2017)

Poland's Catholic Church seen as moral authority

A prominent Warsaw-based priest is calling on the Catholic Church to remain political. But opinions among Polish Catholics are split - even within families, as Monika Sieradzka discovered when she visited Warsaw. (02.06.2016)

  • Date 01.10.2018
  • Author Magdalena Gwozdz-Pallokat (Warsaw)
  • Related Subjects Pope Francis, Poland, Catholicism
  • Keywords sexual abuse, Catholic Church, pedophilia, clergy, Poland
  • Feedback: Send us your feedback.
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink https://p.dw.com/p/35n2h

Related content

Symbolbild M   issbrauch in der Kirche

German Catholic Church reveals scale of sexual abuse 25.09.2018

The scope of sex abuse within Germany's Catholic Church has been laid out for all to see following a four-year investigation. Head bishop Cardinal Reinhard Marx admitted that the church has lost public trust.

Kindesmissbrauch Gewalt gegen Kinder sexuelle Gewalt Misshandlung

Sexual abuse goes far beyond Germany's Catholic Church 25.09.2018

Germany's Catholic Church is grappling with revelations that its clergy sexually abused more than 3,600 children over decades. Sexual violence is a problem for all institutions in which kids are dependent on adults.

Deutsche Bischofskonferenz - Mahnwache sexueller    Missbrauch

Opinion: Catholic Church must change 25.09.2018

The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, in the face of a growing abuse scandal, has said the Catholic Church has reached a "turning point." Anything else would be irresponsible, says DW's Christoph Strack.

  • Date 01.10.2018
  • Author Magdalena Gwozdz-Pallokat (Warsaw)
  • Related Subjects Pope Francis, Poland, Catholicism
  • Keywords sexual abuse, Catholic Church, pedophilia, clergy, Poland
  • Send us your feedback.
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink https://p.dw.com/p/35n2h
Advertisement

News bulletin

Top stories in 90 seconds

DW News presents the most important news â€" in brief, quickly and up-to-date.

Europe

My Europe: Right-wing extremism, tempered by incompetence

Frenchman at center of Nobel Prize scandal sentenced to two years for rape

On Catalan independence vote anniversary, protesters block railway, roads

Macedonia's Zoran Zaev hails name-change referendum result despite low turnout

Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland

Next
« Prev Post
Previous
Next Post »