WARSAW, POLAND — When Bartek Obloj, a 13-year-old altar boy, hanged himself in his home village of Hludno just before Christmas 2007, he left a letter to his mother complaining of being molested by his parish rector. Police were called and his shocked parents blamed the priest for their son’s death.
A month later, Poland’s Catholic Tygodnik Powszechny weekly reported that Fr. Stanislaw Kaszowski had been moved to a parish 20 miles away after personally saying the boy’s funeral Mass. He’d denied the accusations, the paper added, and defiantly failed to appear at a court hearing.
Hludno’s mayor, Stanislaw Gladysz, testified that locals had long complained of the priest’s “sadistic behavior” and “sexual exploits,” adding that for a decade he’d asked the local ordinary, Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, to move the priest. However, Michalik, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, had given Kaszowski his full confidence, the mayor said, and refused to discuss the claims.
When Poland’s Catholic Wiez monthly published a special issue on clerical sex abuse this summer, it was the first time a Catholic publication had dared tackle the subject. “The harm caused by sexual molestation of children is unquestionable — but the evil is much greater when pedophilia occurs in the community of faith, and when, in a falsely conceived defense of the church, the authorities hide the facts, conceal the perpetrators and ignore the suffering victims,” the Warsaw-based journal said in its editorial.