The centenary of the birth of Pope John Paul II, solemnly celebrated this weekend in Poland, was overshadowed on Saturday by the airing of a documentary on paedophilia within the Catholic Church, covered up by a local bishop mentioned by name.
Immediately after the film, “Hide and Seek,” went viral on You Tube, where some 80,000 viewers saw it, the Archbishop of Poland, Wojciech Polak, called on the Holy See to launch an investigation into the cases mentioned.
The documentary, done by independent journalist Tomasz Sekielski, provides a detailed account of the story of two brothers sexually abused by a priest who enjoyed the tacit but evident protection of Edward Janiak, the current bishop of the central diocese of Kalisz.
“The film ‘Hide and Seek,’ which I have just seen, shows that procedures concerning the standards of protection of children and youth have not been fulfilled,” the Archbishop of Poland said in reaction to the documentary, in a videotaped message broadcast by the Catholic agency KAI.
“As a delegate of the Polish Episcopate for the protection of children and youth, I am requesting the Holy See, through its Nuncio, to start a procedure ordered by motu propio (an apostolic letter – editor’s note) from Pope Francis on the omission of the activity required by law,” he added.
This is the second such documentary by Sekielski. The first, “Tell No One”, came out a year ago and had close to 23.5 million hits on YouTube. It sent shock waves through the Catholic Church and prompted a series of reactions at the very top of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. However, the issue seemed to have faded almost totally from public view since then.
Both films look at the issue of the responsibility of the Catholic hierarchy, although they do not delve into the absence of a reaction throughout the long tenure as pope of John-Paul II, who is still revered in his Polish homeland.
However, Tomasz Sekielski has announced a subsequent documentary on the rôle of J-PII in covering up the crimes perpetrated by priests.
A series of demonstrations, masses and concerts aired on the Internet, radio and television, are scheduled in honour of the still vivid memory of Saint John-Paul II, born on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice, southern Poland.