Pope Francis accepts resignation of bishop from troubled Polish diocese — By: Catholic News Agency

null / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2023 / 07:58 am (CNA).

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of 59-year-old Polish Bishop Grzegorz Kaszak on Tuesday following public calls for him to step down over poor management of scandals involving priests in his diocese.

Kaszak, who had led the southern Polish Diocese of Sosnowiec since 2009, had recently faced blowback from local media for his response to a priest of his diocese allegedly being caught hosting an orgy with a male prostitute at the end of August.

In a letter posted to the diocese’s website Oct. 24, Kaszak said he requested his resignation from Pope Francis on Sept. 29.

“I also ask everyone to forgive my human limitations. If I have offended anyone or neglected anything, I am very sorry for it,” the bishop said.

The diocese said in a Sept. 22 press statement that it had become aware from media reports of an orgy held the night of Aug. 30 in a building belonging to the Parish of St. Blessed Virgin Mary of the Angels in the city of Dąbrowa Górnicza. According to reports, emergency services were called for a prostitute who lost consciousness during the course of the night.

The diocese said it was investigating the incident and that there was no doubt about the participation of a priest identified as Father Tomasz Z., who was subsequently “deprived of all Church offices and functions until the matter is resolved.” The priest was also sent away from his parish.

“Church law provides for the most severe penalties for clergy who have committed such offenses, up to and including expulsion from the clerical state,” the statement said.

A Sept. 29 statement from the diocesan curia said the Diocese of Sosnowiec “maintains its will to fully clarify the matter and punish those responsible for the scandal, in accordance with the provisions of Church law.”

“We are aware of the harm done to all the faithful, whose faith could have been wounded and shaken in the face of these events, as well as the righteous indignation of public opinion,” it said. “The harm suffered by the person involved in the incident in Dąbrowa Górnicza who needed medical help is also important to us.”

According to local media, the alleged orgy was just the latest in a series of scandals involving priests in the Sosnowiec Diocese. 

Kaszak had also been accused of a lack of transparency about the cause of the sudden death of a priest and a deacon in March.

Unofficial reports claim that a 46-year-old priest committed suicide by jumping in front of a train after he allegedly stabbed a 26-year-old deacon to death.

In 2013, the Vatican closed the diocesan seminary of Sosnowiec after the school’s rector, identified as Father Mariusz T., was caught on video allegedly engaging in sexual activity in a gay club in Krakow in 2010.

According to the Polish bishops’ conference, Pope Francis has named Archbishop Adrian Galbas, SAC, coadjutor of Katowice, as apostolic administrator of the Sosnowiec Diocese until the appointment of a new bishop.

Galbas is currently in Rome to participate in the Oct. 4–29 assembly of the Synod on Synodality.

In a letter to the diocese Oct. 24, Galbas asked for the cooperation of Catholics “based on truth.”

“I also ask you to pray for the nomination of a new diocesan bishop. May it be a man ‘according to the heart of God,’ for, as St. John Mary Vianney wrote, such a shepherd is the greatest treasure that the good God can offer us and ‘one of the most precious gifts of God’s mercy,’” he said.

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