Victims group in Poland maps 255 sex abuse cases by priests

Victims group in Poland maps 255 sex abuse cases by priests
A map is presented showing Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, during a demonstration in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. A private foundation in Poland published the map in the latest development pressuring Poland’s church to admit and take responsibility for such abuse cases. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) (Source: Alik Keplicz)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A private foundation published a map Sunday showing where Catholic priests in Poland have been accused of child sexual abuse, adding pressure on the church in the predominantly Catholic country to respond.

The Have No Fear foundation, which represents abuse survivors, said the map of cases it compiled represented 255 children under age 15 who were abused by priests across Poland. The cases were drawn from court records, media reports and survivor accounts gathered by the foundation, the organization said.

More than 50 priests have been convicted of abusing children, according to the foundation. Some of them served time in prison and were reassigned to new parishes when they got out, it said.

Clergy abuse, both alleged and substantiated in court, has put church leaders in Poland under growing pressure to confront the problem. Poland's bishops' conference has said it is working on a report on the scale of pedophilia in the church, due to be published by the end of November.

The map will be updated as more cases are reported and taken to court, Polish lawmaker Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, said. She is working to bring attention to the clergy abuse issue to colleagues in parliament, which is dominated by the conservative ruling party.

Protesters carry a map of Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, as they march in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, demanding the church to stop protecting pedophile priests. The writing on the banner reads: "Bishop. Hiding Pedophilia is a Crime." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
Protesters carry a map of Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, as they march in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, demanding the church to stop protecting pedophile priests. The writing on the banner reads: "Bishop. Hiding Pedophilia is a Crime." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) (Source: Alik Keplicz)

The bishop of the Opole diocese in southwest Poland, Andrzej Czaja, apologized for any sexual abuse by churchmen Sunday and requested forgiveness "for our heavy sins" from Catholic faithful.

During Sunday services, priests read a letter in which Czaja reported that six priests in his diocese were convicted recently of abusing children.

Protesters present a map of Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, during a demonstration in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, demanding the church to stop protecting pedophile priests. The writing on the map reads: "Map of Church Pedophilia in Poland". (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
Protesters present a map of Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, during a demonstration in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, demanding the church to stop protecting pedophile priests. The writing on the map reads: "Map of Church Pedophilia in Poland". (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) (Source: Alik Keplicz)

"We are full of pain, shame and feeling hopeless," Czaja said in the letter.

The bishop in Warsaw made a similar apology last week. The Have No Fear foundation held a march in Poland's capital and some other cities Sunday to demand the church stop protecting pedophile priests.

Protesters holding a map of Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, stop in front of St. Anna church as they march in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, demanding Poland's church leaders to stop protecting pedophile priests. The writing on the banner reads: "Bishop. Hiding Pedophilia is a Crime." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
Protesters holding a map of Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, stop in front of St. Anna church as they march in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, demanding Poland's church leaders to stop protecting pedophile priests. The writing on the banner reads: "Bishop. Hiding Pedophilia is a Crime." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) (Source: Alik Keplicz)

A few hundred people marched with banners that read "It's a Crime to Cover Up Pedophilia, Bishop."

Protesters carry a map of Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, as they march in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, demanding the church to stop protecting pedophile priests. The writing on the banner reads: "Bishop. Hiding Pedophilia is a Crime." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
Protesters carry a map of Poland with 255 documented cases of sexual abuse of minors by the country's Catholic priests, as they march in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, demanding the church to stop protecting pedophile priests. The writing on the banner reads: "Bishop. Hiding Pedophilia is a Crime." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) (Source: Alik Keplicz)