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Top Polish Catholic Church Official Resigns in Sex Scandal - 2002-03-28

A top Catholic Church official in Pope John Paul II's native Poland has resigned after being caught in a homosexual sex scandal. Fellow priests had accused the archbishop of Poznan of molesting seminarians.

The pope has accepted the resignation of Polish Archbishop Julius Paetz. Priests had accused the high-ranking church official of sexual advances on seminarians and young priests. His behavior was such that the rector of the seminary in Poznan had barred the archbishop from entering without prior announcement of his visit.

Last year, a large number of Polish priests wrote to the Vatican asking for the accusations against Archbishop Paetz to be investigated. Their action led to the opening of a Vatican inquiry and to the publication of the charges against the archbishop in a Polish newspaper.

The archbishop has consistently denied the accusations of sexual misconduct. He also has accused the news media of what he called "an unprecedented, massive and one-sided campaign against my person."

Poland is a strongly Catholic country and the church has enormous influence. Polish Catholics were dismayed by the accusations made against such a high-ranking official.

The Catholic Church has recently been rocked by sexual abuse scandals in dioceses in various parts of the world, particularly in the United States. Just last week the Pope said the "grave scandal" had cast a "dark shadow of suspicion" on fine priests who serve the church well.

At a mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Holy Thursday in which priests renew the vows they made when they joined the priesthood, the pope appeared to make another reference to the scandals. He called for prayers for "our brothers who did not meet their commitments that came with priestly ordination or who are going through a time of difficulty and crisis."