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Poland's Catholic Church apologises for paedophilia

21 june 2014, 20:03

Poland's powerful Catholic Church apologised for paedophilia committed by its priests during an unprecedented ceremony attended by top clergy and abuse victims, AFP reports.

"Ashamed and contrite, we ask for forgiveness from God and the priests' victims," bishop Piotr Libera said during a special liturgy in the southern city of Krakow.

Church leaders in the heavily Catholic country had already apologised at press conferences but never before had the gesture taken such a solemn form, Jesuit priest Jacek Prusak told AFP.

The event was part of a two-day conference on preventing church paedophilia that was attended by experts from abroad and several victims.

Priest paedophilia has long been a taboo topic in Poland.

"Compared to the United States or Ireland, Poland's Church is only at the very beginning of the road," said Father Adam Zak, youth coordinator for the Polish bishops' conference.

Several high-profile cases have rocked the nation in recent months, including that of Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who is alleged to have had sex with boys while serving as a papal envoy in the Dominican Republic.

Poland's episcopacy has thus far ruled out compensating victims of the abuse, even as it faces its first civil lawsuit for damages.

The demand for 200,000 zloty (48,000 euros, $65,000) was made by a 25-year-old male -- identified only as Marcin K -- who was molested as a child.

"It's the first such lawsuit. Many others will follow," said Marek Lisinski, head of a foundation for victims of sex abuse by clergy.

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