A Polish television investigation aired on Monday claimed that as an archbishop in his home country, Pope John Paul II was aware of sexual abuse allegations against priests and attempted to conceal them.
The report by TVN24 alleged that at least three priests were relocated from their dioceses in the 1970s in an effort by the future pope, who was then Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, to prevent a scandal.
Two of these priests, Eugeniusz Surgent and Jozef Loranc, were later imprisoned for their offenses. The investigation also revealed a letter from Wojtyla to the archbishop of Vienna in which he recommended another alleged abuser, Boleslaw Sadus, for a position in Austria without mentioning any accusations against him.
Despite these revelations, none of the priests were dismissed from their positions, and Sadus remained in touch with Wojtyla after he became pope in 1978.
After a two-and-a-half-year investigative effort, an explosive report was released revealing that Pope John Paul II was allegedly aware of and tried to conceal sexual abuse allegations against priests when he was an archbishop in Poland. The investigative team spoke with victims of the accused sex offenders, their families, and former employees of the dioceses.
Additionally, the producers referenced documents from Poland’s former communist-era secret security services.
The report caused a stir on social media, with some expressing outrage. Radoslaw Brzozkam, an official with the Ministry of Education, accused the show of promoting “cultural suicide” for the Polish people.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted a photo of John Paul II with the caption “Do not be afraid,” referencing the late pope’s motto.
Born in the southern Polish town of Wadowice in 1920, Wojtyla became the archbishop of Krakow in 1964 before becoming pope 14 years later. During his 27-year pontificate, he was known for his firm stance against abortion, contraception, and same-sex relationships, and he was a charismatic and influential figure.