Polish Episcopate appoints a foundation to help victims of sexual abuse

The newly appointed St. Joseph’s Foundation will help victims of sexual abuse. The Foundation’s board includes representatives of the clergy and social activists with a long history of helping those who suffered from the clergy.

The creation of the Foundation is an expression of solidarity of the Church in Poland with sexual abuse victims - comments Archbishop Wojciech Polak, KEP Delegate for the protection of children and youth, Primate Bishop of the Catholic Church in Poland.

The Saint Joseph Foundation will be run by Marta Titaniec, an experienced NGO activist, co-initiator of the "Hurt in the Church" initiative, and priest Dr. Tadeusz Michalik from the Tarnów diocese, for years involved in education, and the prevention of sexual abuse.

The foundation's activities are to be nationwide. The Foundation will provide various assistance to victims in cooperation with a specific diocese and with existing works and initiatives such as the Child Protection Center or "Hurt in the Church" - a helpline and catholic support groups network for sex abuse victims. A coordinator will be appointed in each diocese to contact the foundation. In the near future, the bishops will start discussions with male and female convents about joining the foundation's activities and responsibility for its shape.

Another step is the further development and expansion of the existing "network of experts" - psychologists, educators, lawyers and priests - competent in providing professional assistance to persons injured by sexual abuse, so that in the future specialized "help centers" can be created. The Foundation will also be able to provide educational scholarships for victims who need help in graduating from school or studies. The foundation's tasks will also include supporting various preventive actions aimed at protecting children and young people.

The Foundation's Council will include persons acting for the protection of minors: father Adam Żak SJ - coordinator of the Episcopate for the protection of children and youth and director of the Child Protection Center in Krakow; Dr Małgorzata Skórzewska-Amberg - expert in the field of criminal law on child protection in cyberspace, participating in the work of the Diocesan Support Team at the Bishop of Płock; priest professor Piotr Majer - a famous canonic lawyer and member of the Scientific Council of the Child Protection Center. A person calling himself by the nickname ‘Wiktor Porycki’ will sit on the Foundation Council as a representative of persons harmed by clergy. He is a member and a journalist of ‘Więź’ magazine. Because of his advocacy for the rights of victims of the clergy his real name is known only to members of the Editorial Office.

The aim of the specific selection of Board Members is to grant equal participation for the representatives of the victims, secular experts and the clergy. It is supposed to send a clear message to society that it is not only an internal Church institution, but it works under a specific checks and balances structure.

In addition, it will include the secretary general of the Polish Episcopate, Bishop Artur Miziński, and the Council will be headed by the Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, as the EPC delegate for the protection of children and youth.

The foundation's financial structure will be primarily based on funds provided by individual dioceses. The financial participation of the dioceses will be distributed in proportion to the number of bishops and priests belonging to them.