Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Polish Bishop After ‘Vos Estis’ Investigation

Bishop Tyrawa is the latest in a series of Polish bishops to have faced investigations under Vos estis.

Polish Bishop Jan Tyrawa.
Polish Bishop Jan Tyrawa. (photo: Krzysztof Mizera via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0). / Krzysztof Mizera via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Polish Bishop Jan Tyrawa, who was investigated for negligence in handling cases of sexual abuse by priests in his diocese.

According to a statement by the apostolic nunciature in Poland May 12, the 72-year-old bishop submitted his letter of resignation to the pope at the end of a Vatican-led investigation into accusations that he had failed to properly handle cases of sexual abuse against minors by priests in his diocese.

“Following formal reports, the Holy See — acting in accordance with the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi — conducted proceedings concerning the reported negligence of the Bishop of Bydgoszcz Jan Tyrawa,” the statement said.

“After completing this procedure, taking into account also other difficulties in managing the diocese, the bishop of Bydgoszcz resigned from his ministry, accepted today by the Holy Father,” it concluded.

Bishop Tyrawa, serving the Diocese of Bydgoszcz, in northern Poland since 2004, was accused in February of last year of knowing about the abusive tendencies of one of his priests and yet of having transferred him from parish to parish, rather than removing him from situations with minors.

The complaint was made by a former altar boy who said he was sexually abused by a priest in the Diocese of Bydgoszcz. Bishop Tyrawa testified in court during a settlement hearing. The victim was awarded compensation of over $80,000 to be paid by the diocese together with the Archdiocese of Wrocław. 

Poland’s apostolic nunciature also announced May 12 that Pope Francis had appointed Bishop Wiesław Śmigiel of the Diocese of Toruń to oversee the Diocese of Bydgoszcz as apostolic administrator sede vacante, following Bishop Tyrawa’s resignation.

Tyrawa was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Wrocław in 1973. In 1988, he was named an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, where he served until his appointment to lead the Bydgoszcz diocese in 2004.

Bishop Tyrawa is the latest in a series of Polish bishops to have faced investigations under Vos estis.

The apostolic nunciature in Poland announced in March that the Vatican had sanctioned two retired bishops after canonical inquiries into accusations they were negligent in their handling of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź, archbishop of Gdańsk from 2008 to 2020, and Bishop Edward Janiak, who led the Diocese of Kalisz from 2012 to 2020, were ordered by the Holy See to live outside their former dioceses and told they cannot participate in public liturgies or non-religious gatherings within the territory of the dioceses.

Another Polish bishop investigated under Vos estis for alleged negligence is Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy.

On Oct. 9, the archdiocese of Kraków said that the pope had authorized Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Kraków to conduct an inquiry into negligence claims against Bishop Rakoczy, concerning abuse cases involving two priests in Bielsko-Żywiec diocese.

Bishop Rakoczy, 82, served as bishop of Bielsko–Żywiec from 1992 until his retirement in 2013.

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.