Vatican Clears Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz of Negligence in Polish Abuse Cases

The Catholic Church in Poland has been undergoing a reckoning on clerical sexual abuse for several years.

Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, pictured in Rome April 25, 2014.
Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, pictured in Rome April 25, 2014. (photo: Kyle Burkhart/CNA / EWTN)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has ended an investigation into allegations that Polish Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz failed to investigate claims of clerical sex abuse when he was archbishop of Krakow, saying his actions were “correct.”

“The analysis of the collected documentation made it possible to assess these actions of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz as correct and, therefore, the Holy See decided not to proceed any further,” the apostolic nunciature in Poland announced on Friday.

Cardinal Dziwisz, 82, was archbishop of Krakow from 2005-2016, after more than three decades as the personal secretary of St. Pope John Paul II. 

According to the nunciature’s statement, Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop emeritus of Genoa, visited Poland from June 17-26, 2021, to carry out an investigation on behalf of the Holy See.

Cardinal Dziwisz, in his own statement on April 22, said he is “grateful to the Apostolic See for having judged the case fairly.”

Cardinal Bagnasco, he said, “made every effort to clarify the aforementioned allegations, which are undeserved and painful for me.”

The cardinal added that he hopes the news “will contribute not only to clarifying the matter but also to restoring peace of mind to all those who have felt affected by the accusations I have faced.”

“I assure everyone of my remembrance in prayer,” he stated, noting that he is grateful to those who contributed “to a responsible response to the allegations made against me during my time as Archbishop Metropolitan of Krakow from 2005 to 2016.”

The allegations against the Polish cardinal were aired in a television program in Poland in November 2020. The 82-minute program was shown on TVN24, a Polish commercial news channel, on the eve of the publication of the Vatican’s McCarrick Report.

Cardinal Dziwisz said in 2020 he wanted to see the allegations clarified in a transparent manner.

The Catholic Church in Poland has been undergoing a reckoning on clerical sexual abuse for several years. In 2019, the Polish bishops’ conference issued a report which concluded that 382 clergy sexually abused a total of 624 victims between 1990 and 2018.

Cardinal Dziwisz was ordained a priest in 1963 by St. John Paul II, who was then an auxiliary bishop of Krakow. When Bishop Karol Wojtyla was made archbishop of Krakow the following year, Cardinal Dziwisz became his secretary — a role he served in until the pope’s death in 2005.

Cardinal Dziwisz was appointed archbishop of Krakow shortly after his mentor’s death, remaining in that position until his retirement in 2016.

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