St John Paul II honored as Poland sees new abuse allegations

St John Paul Poland

Title: St John Paul II honored as Poland sees new abuse allegations

Author: Vanessa Gera & Nicole Winfield

Publisher: ABC News (AP)

Date: 18MAY2020

WARSAW, Poland — St. John Paul II was honored on the centennial of his birth Monday with special Masses at the Vatican and in his native Poland, an anniversary that comes as the Polish church finds itself confronted by new allegations of clerical sex abuse.

From the small town of Wadowice, Poland, where Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920, to Warsaw and the Vatican, Catholic faithful gave prayers of thanks for the man who was pope from 1978 until his death in 2005.

“Today we can say that 100 years ago the Lord visited his people,” Pope Francis said in a morning Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. “Celebrating the memory of Saint John Paul II let’s remember this: The Lord loves his people, he visited his people, he sent a shepherd.”

To Poles, John Paul is best remembered for using the papacy to shake the foundations of an oppressive communist system that was toppled across Eastern Europe 11 years into his papacy.

“Karol Wojtyla was one of the most important figures of the 20th century,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said in a letter to worshippers at Poland’s holiest site, the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa. “His teaching and testimony still touch the hearts and minds of millions of people.”

Poland’s Jewish community also remembered John Paul’s efforts to seek reconciliation between Catholics and Jews, an effort that included apologizing for the centuries of Christian persecution of Jews and historic first visits by a pope to synagogues and Auschwitz.

“No other Pope has done more to heal the painful wounds and he did more than anyone else in history to effectively erase the scourge of anti-Semitism,” Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, said in a statement on Sunday.

But John Paul’s legacy has been stained by his failure to address sex abuse in the church, which was well known at the Vatican during his papacy. And that issue has also been on people’s minds in recent days because of a new documentary exposing alleged sex abuse in Poland’s church.

The film, “Playing Hide and Seek,” by brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, was released Saturday online and had been viewed over 4 million times by Monday morning.

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