This is a screenshot from the website dosckrzywdy.pl/eng/. Pope Francis said he is praying for Catholics who asked him to intervene in Poland's abuse cases. (CNS screenshot/dosckrzywdy.pl.)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he was praying for the hundreds of Catholics in Poland who turned to him directly, urging him to "rebuild our church" and criticizing the country's bishops for hiding cases of abuse against minors.

Matteo Bruni, head of the Vatican press office, said the pope was aware of the appeal paid for by more than 600 Catholics in Poland so that it could be published as a paid ad in the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, June 29.

The pope "is praying for those who have turned to him," Bruni said in a written statement June 30.

"The entire church must do everything possible so that canonical norms are applied, cases of abuse are discovered and those guilty of these grave crimes are punished," Bruni said, referring to the pope's position.

The Vatican statement reflected the response given to La Repubblica after the group of lay Catholics published the appeal in the paper and on a website in four different languages at dosckrzywdy.pl/eng/.

The appeal begged the pope to "look with care at the church in Poland where bishops are hiding cases of pedophilia."

"Loyalty to the institution is blind, deaf and more important than the victims," it said, criticizing the body of bishops and the Vatican nuncio of "pretending not to see" abuse or for remaining silent.

The appeal’s authors, who say they are a group of lay Catholics who are actively involved in the church and its ministries, "decided to take a public stand and sign an appeal to Pope Francis" after seeing no response was given concerning cases of abuse and negligence reported to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Bishops.

The lack of decisive action being taken by the Vatican has been causing division in the church in Poland -- between those who care about the institution's image or reputation "and those who care (about the) victims," it said.

The group said, "We decided on this almost desperate move to appeal to Pope Francis in the Italian newspaper because we love the church and we can no longer remain silent in face of the evil growing in it."

Allegations of abuse and cover-up by bishops have been increasing over the years, it said, indicating that even if only some of the charges were true, it still shows "the outrageous scale of abuse connected with hiding pedophilia" as well as cases of violence and harassment against priests and consecrated persons.

Among the bishops the group listed was Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz, who came under scrutiny in a recent documentary investigating his reported lack of action and delay in responding to accusations of the abuse of minors.

Pope Francis named an apostolic administrator "sede plena" of the diocese June 25, which means Bishop Janiak is still officially head of the diocese while the administrator takes on his appointed duties.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak, primate of Poland and the bishops' delegate for child protection, announced in mid-May that he would ask the Vatican to initiate proceedings against Bishop Janiak for failing to discipline a priest incriminated by the documentary.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

A woman in Toronto receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Toronto and Region Islamic Congregation center April 1, 2021. (CNS photo/Carlos Osorio, Reuters)
Canadians have embraced coronavirus vaccination in large numbers and are feeling a deepening exasperation with the unvaccinated.
David AgrenNovember 30, 2021
As Dorothy Day's cause for canonization moves forward, her writings continue to offer a prophetic Christian witness to a complacent world.
James T. KeaneNovember 30, 2021
Revs. Brian Strassburger and Louie Hotop have started a podcast documenting their ministry in the Rio Grande Valley along the U.S.-Mexico border. The aim of the podcast is to explore immigration through a lens of Catholic social teaching.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 23 that an Indiana trial court “committed reversible error” when it dismissed a former teacher’s lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis earlier this year.