Polish archbishop stirs anger with child sex abuse comments

Tue Oct 8, 2013 3:04pm EDT
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By Dagmara Leszkowicz

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's most senior Catholic cleric said children with divorced parents were sometimes more vulnerable to sexual abuse by priests, remarks that prompted a storm of outrage though the church later said it was a slip of the tongue.

The comments from Archbishop Jozef Michalik entrenched the view among some younger Poles that the church is out of touch with modern society and failing to properly confront allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

In comments shown on Tuesday by broadcaster TVN24, Michalik said child sexual abuse by priests was unacceptable, but the debate about it needed to be broadened out beyond the immediate physical or psychological wounds inflicted on the victims.

"And one has to say ... how many wounds are inflicted when parents divorce? We often hear that this inappropriate attitude (paedophilia), or abuse, manifests itself when a child is seeking love," said the clergyman, who is head of the Roman Catholic episcopate in Poland.

"It (the child) clings, it searches. It gets lost itself and then draws another person into this."

After the comments were broadcast, Polish social media networks reverberated with angry comments.

"This is disgusting, and is soaked in a sick logic, when a victim is responsible for a crime," wrote one person, who gave her name as Anna, posting on Facebook.

Another poster on the site, who identified himself as Adam, wrote: "While reading this, we can only be happy that this 'Polish institution' has committed ritual suicide."   Continued...