A bishop has issued a letter apologising for recent “painful events” in his diocese, where media reports suggest that a group of priests were involved in a “sex party” at which a male prostitute lost consciousness and was initially denied medical assistance.
Though the church has acknowledged an incident took place and prosecutors have announced an investigation, neither have confirmed the precise nature of what took place and the local diocese says some aspects of media reports are inaccurate.
Last week, Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading liberal daily, reported that priests in Dąbrowa Górnicza, a city in southern Poland, had organised a party in a building belonging to the parish to which a male prostitute had been invited.
“The event was purely sexual in nature,” an unnamed source with knowledge of the incident told the newspaper. “Its participants took potency enhancement drugs.”
Gazeta Wyborcza reported that “the party got out of control and the male prostitute lost consciousness”, resulting in an ambulance being called. However, when paramedics arrived, they were refused entry to the premises. The paramedics then reportedly called the police, who helped them gain access to the unconscious man.
A spokesman for the local prosecutor’s office told Gazeta Wybrocza that an investigation has been initiated into the possible failure to provide assistance to a person whose health is endangered, a crime that can carry up to three years in prison.
In response to the newspaper’s enquiries, the local Catholic curia confirmed that there had been an incident involving the “intervention of an ambulance and police in a building belonging to the parish”. It said the bishop had appointed a commission to urgently explain what had happened.
In a subsequent statement, the curia announced that the commission’s “findings so far differ from the information presented by some media”, though it did not provide any further details.
Events then took a further dramatic turn when, on Thursday night, someone set fire to the doors of the basilica in the parish where the alleged incident had taken place. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and no one was injured. Police later detained a man suspected of starting the fire.
On Friday, the curia announced that the priest in whose apartment the alleged incident had taken place – who can be named only as Tomasz Z. under Polish privacy law – had been removed from all ecclesiastical duties “until the matter is clarified”.
Meanwhile, Niedziela, a weekly Catholic news magazine, announced that it had terminated its cooperation with Tomasz Z., who had previously been the editor-in-chief of its local Sosnowiec edition.
Yesterday, a letter from the bishop of Sosnowiec, Grzegorz Kaszak, was read in all churches in the diocese. He referred to the “painful events in Dąbrowa Górnicza” and the “ashamed priests” involved, but without providing any details of what had taken place.
“I apologise to all those who were affected and saddened, or even scandalised, by the situation,” wrote the bishop. “I would like to emphasise emphatically that there is no consent to moral evil. Anyone found guilty will be punished according to canon law, regardless of the verdict of a civil court.”
“Today I turn to you, beloved in Christ the Lord, with a request for prayer and fasting – tools of victory over the particularly strong evil that destroys man,” he continued. “Let us pray for the conversion of our brother who has committed a scandalous act.”
Meanwhile, the parish priest at the church where the alleged incident took place said during Sunday mass yesterday that he “condemns the act committed by Father Tomasz Z.” But he also appealed to people to not “act to intensify the spiral of hatred: evil must be overcome with good”.
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