The commission investigating the case of the Dominican Paweł M. presented a report on him on Wednesday. According to the arrangements, the clergyman was to use physical, mental and even sexual violence against the faithful. The head of the committee, Tomasz Terlikowski, emphasized that “this is a report that does justice to the victims.”
“Independent of the Order” commission, which investigated the case of Father Paweł M. and the activities of the provinces, the Dominicans established in the spring of this year. In early March, the Dominicans admitted that he was active in the pastoral ministry in Wrocław “intense mechanism reminiscent of the functioning of a religious sect“and the testimonies of the aggrieved persons prove that” the then priest, under the guise of piety, caused great harm to the faithful, using physical, mental, spiritual and even sexual violence. “Paweł M.
There were initiated proceedings against Father M. canonical criminal trial and until the end of the case, he was to be in isolation in one of the monasteries, forbidden to wear religious clothes and perform priestly functions. However, on March 31 The District Court in Katowice placed him under pre-trial detention – it was about other crimes that he was supposed to commit in 2011-2018. The prosecution has brought against him seven counts of rape and causing a person to submit to another sexual act.
Commission chaired by Tomasz Terlikowski
“A commission independent of the order, whose purpose is to describe the actions of Br. Paweł M., the reaction and negligence of the provincial authorities and the mechanisms that worked in this matter” was established at the end of March by a decree of the Provincial of the Polish Dominican Province, Brother Paweł Kozacki. “In conclusion, the Commission will formulate suggestions and recommendations that will help avoid a similar evil in the future” – emphasized the Dominicans.
The mission of creating the commission was entrusted to Tomasz Terlikowski, a publicist and writer who has been dealing with the subject of the exploitation of minors in the Catholic Church for many years.
“This is a report that does justice to the victims”
On Wednesday after 1 p.m., the commission presented the results of its work at a press conference.
The head of the committee, Tomasz Terlikowski, said that “the question often arises in the public opinion whether this is a report against someone”. – No, this is a report prepared for someone and for something, not against, not for judgment, not for condemnation – he said.
– This is a report that does justice to the victims. It does justice to those whose voice, history, and lives have been ignored for over 20 years. This is the report that gives them the right to tell their life story. Difficult, complicated, marked in many fields by contact with Paweł M. – he added.
As Terlikowski continued, “their lives were also marked by the fact that when they began to bear their testimonies, believing and counting on the dignified treatment of the provinces of the Order of Preachers in Poland at that time, they were met with ignorance, contempt, and sometimes brutal words”.
Dr hab. Michał Królikowski on the number of witnesses heard in the case of Paweł M.
Dr hab. Michał Królikowski reported that the commission interviewed 31 former and current Dominicans, 41 witnesses, including a dozen aggrieved persons and experts in the case. – The provincial provided us with all the documentation from the archives, both from the open and secret part, and finally he gave us any other information that later reached the province and could be the basis for factual findings – he said.
The lawyer admitted that “without this honesty and openness on the part of the Dominican brothers our view would be incomplete or highly distorted, imprecise.” – Reliability, which was our motto in determining the facts, forced us to provide only those circumstances that we were able to confirm in at least two sources – said Królikowski.
The UW professor admitted that “the commission is not a court or a prosecutor”. – We are the closest to an institution that some countries use when dealing with a difficult past, calling it a truth and reconciliation commission. – Our task is not to accuse someone, our task is to reveal the truth, satisfy the basic right so that people know the truth – he said.
Tomasz Terlikowski on the main theses of the commission’s report
Presenting the main theses of the report, Tomasz Terlikowski said that “the summary of the report at the conference would be difficult because it is a powerful document, also from the factual point of view”. The report is 258 pages long. – The first signals about certain irregularities related to the actions of Paweł M. began to reach their superiors while working in Poznań, i.e. already in the second half of the 1990s, although our findings show that the first abuses occurred earlier, at the very beginning pastoral work, but the superiors were not informed about them at the time, Terlikowski said.
– Due to the votes received by the provincial authorities, Fr. Paweł M. is transferred to Wrocław and entrusted with another ministry. Shortly thereafter, the provincial and the new provincial, Father Maciej Zięba, receive a quite detailed analysis of the problems related to Father Paweł M. theological, which may be dangerous in the long term – explained the head of an independent commission. “As far as we know, this knowledge was not used for any activities at the time,” he added.
Terlikowski pointed out that “father Paweł M. was then considered a star of the province, he is very pastoral and he attracts many young people to his group”. – To put it simply, Father Paweł M. creates a sect from a group of female and male students, which he arranges in such a way that they hardly sleep, pray all day and night. His voice is God’s voice to them. It separates them from their families and relatives, forces them to drop out of studies, and forces some to join religious orders or congregations – he said.
“There was then physical violence, very brutal, all-night beating with the Dominican belt until it was destroyed, as well as sexual violence,” he added.
The results of the commission’s research were also received by the general of the Order of Preachers, who will then decide on the possible consequences for the guilty mistakes and negligence.
A special helpline for aggrieved persons
Considering the effects that the publication of the Dominican commission’s report may have, the Initiative “Wounded in the Church” decided to launch a crisis support program. From Wednesday, September 15 until Sunday, September 26, psychotherapists will be on duty every day between 7.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. at 800 280 900, listening to the injured, giving them first support and providing information about the possibility of receiving legal, psychological or spiritual help, as well as directing them to the appropriate and trusted professionals.
Dominicans apologized to the victims
In early March, the Dominicans from Wrocław apologized for the situations that took place in their academic ministry 20 years ago. “We turn to you with great pain and shame. We stand before you in the truth that, despite the passage of years, is revealing its terrifying face more and more clearly” – they wrote, declaring at the same time a full explanation of the matter.
“The testimonies of the victims – adults at that time – convince us today that the priest of that time, under the guise of piety, caused great harm to the faithful, using physical, mental, spiritual and even sexual violence. The history of these abuses seems distant, but it reaches us in a vivid way in victims of victims who have suffered for years without feeling sufficiently heard and understood, “they added in the statement.
Then he published a statement on the Dominican Father Paweł Kozacki, Provincial of the Polish Dominican Province. “As an order, we are determined to clarify the matter to the end and allow it to be judged both under state and church law. We want to do it as openly and as quickly as possible” – he said.
Father Kozacki pointed out that in the case of Father M. “we are constantly learning new facts”. “That is why I initiated a canonical criminal trial, and the collected documents will be urgently sent to Rome to the General Curia of the Order, and through it to the Vatican” – he informed.
The clergyman asked for contact by phone, e-mail or in person of people who had been harmed by Father Paweł M. “We are in contact with law enforcement agencies, to whom we provide all information” – he assured. He added that the victims of Father M. will be “kept informed about the progress of the case”.
The monk said that Father M. “until the end of the case is in isolation, in one of the monasteries, with a ban on leaving it and a ban on wearing religious clothes, performing priestly activities and contacting anyone from outside.”