Monday, June 24, 2024

Shocking case of political prosecution of a Catholic priest in Poland

 On March 26 the Internal Security Agency raided three houses run by the the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as part of an ongoing investigation by Poland's new government into funding the congregation received from the previous government for its ministry for victims of abuse.

Father Olszewski and the Sacred Heart priests' foundation, Profeto, won the bid in the state-run Justice Fund for $10 million in the spring of 2020 to build a place in Warsaw's Wilanów district where "all the victims, no matter their background, no matter whether they're Catholic or not, no matter who they voted for, will find refuge."

From what the opposition media reports it looks like the handling of the prosecution is very problematic if not outright illegal. The lawyers for days could not communicate with the priest and for even longer time did not have access to the materials the prosecution was using.

"Immediately after the arrest, his lawyer was not allowed to see the priest, which in itself is a violation of the law and in any serious country would result in the dismissal of the management of the prosecutor's office. (…) Moreover, as the priest's defense attorney pointed out, when he entered the room he did not have access to the materials that were about to take away the priest's freedom, which was also a violation of all possible rules," - explains the former deputy minister of justice Patryk Jaki.

"Immediately (after the arrest) a TV journalist reported that he was detained with a woman. Of course, all this later turned out to be untrue, and the detainee had no way of defending himself. The communists made the same insinuations against Karol Wojtyła (Pope John Paul II) and other priests. They wanted to discredit them with alleged contacts with women," - said Jaki.

Several officials were also arrested for issued the funding for priest's foundation. One of them was charged because "one of the foundations gave her the wrong bank account number and she didn't notice and she was imprisoned for 6 months."

The former deputy minister of justice emphasizes that while the priest is in custody, the prosecutor's office did not apply the same measure to those accused of being Russian agents (released on bond), as a result of which they escaped.

- Based on reporting by Wpolityce