Polish cardinal suspected of child molestation hospitalised

Retired metropolitan of the south-western Polish city of Wrocław Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz accused by poet Przemysław Kowalczyk, also known as Karol Chum, of sexually abusing him at the age of 15 was hospitalised on Wednesday.

“Cardinal Gulbinowicz felt ill the day before yesterday and was brought to one of Wrocław’s hospitals. After a series of treatments, the physicians decided to keep the cardinal at the hospital to monitor his health,” the Wrocław Archdiocese’s spokesman Rafał Kowalski told the Catholic Information Agency (KAI).

“His condition is good, his life is not threatened, however, in the case of a 96-year-old man, a worsening of health requires scrutinous examination. The doctors will decide when the cardinal will be fit to leave the hospital,” said the spokesman.

“It is hard to say” is how Reverend Kowalski responded to questions whether the accusations that the cardinal sexually abused a minor in the past that have been emerging in the media recently contributed to the sudden deterioration of the second-highest class church official’s health.

“None of us have informed the cardinal [about these accusations] due to the state of his health,” said the Wrocław Archdiocese’s spokesman.

Cardinal’s attorneys call on all to respect cardinal’s privacy

The cardinal’s attorneys Mateusz Chlebowski and Łukasz Śliwa called on the media to cease publication of “untrue and unproved information” about the high-ranking priest “that originate from the individual known as Karol Chum.”

Mr Chlebowski said that his law firm is analysing the media content that has been published so far. “After the analysis is done, we will decide what legal actions will be taken in this regard,” said Mr Chlebowski, adding that “we want [the cardinal] to recover with peace of mind. We request that the situation is not sensationalised… all further insinuations about the cardinal will be treated by us as violations of the law and will be met with an appropriate legal response.

The accusation

The Wrocław curia initiated an investigation procedure regarding Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz’s conduct, Poland’s private news website Onet reported on Wednesday.

A couple of days ago, a poet from Wrocław by the name of Przemysław Kowalczyk aka. Karol Chum posted an accusal on Facebook that he was sexually abused by the cardinal at the age of 15.

“I am a victim of sexual abuse. I have a face. My name is Karol Chum. My persecutor is Cardinal Gulbinowicz. I was 15-years-old,” wrote Mr Kowalczyk, who was allegedly abused while staying over for the night in Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz’s manor.

Mr Kowalczyk’s confession was spurred by the Sekielski brothers “Don’t tell anyone” (“Tylko nie mów nikomu”) documentary that presents instances of priests sexually abusing minors. The documentary follows paedophile priests’ victims who recount their situation and trauma to lawyers and psychologists. The victims confront the priests who abused them.

In the documentary, it is shown that Cardinal Gulbinowicz knew about the paedophiliac tendencies of one of Wrocław diocese's priests Paweł Kania.

According to Onet, the curia was prompted to start the investigation by a meme referring to the author’s confession that was sent to its inbox. Attempts to contact the FB post’s author resulted in a refusal to organise a meeting and provide detailed information. The poet Mr Kowalczyk is said to have replied that he is represented by the “Nie lękajcie się” (“Fear not”) Foundation.

Poland’s private liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily published an article on the matter, which the curia treated as an official report of a case of paedophilia crime.

Born in 1923 in the suburban Szukiszki area of the then Polish city of Vilnius, Henryk Gulbinowicz became cardinal in 1985. He was Wrocław’s metropolitan from 1975 to 2004 the year when he retired.