Organisation voluntarily removes statue of Polish priest accused of paedophilia
The founders of a statue in Gdańsk of a priest active in Poland's Solidary movement, who has also been accused of paedophilia, voluntarily took down the statue after local councillors voted to remove it.
Workers removed the statue of Henryk Jankowski, a leading figure in the Solidarity movement which toppled Communism in Poland, from its plinth in the central Gdansk square which also bears his name on Friday (March 8).
On Thursday (March 7) Gdańsk councillors voted to remove the statue, rename the square, and strip Jankowski of his honorary citizenship of the northern Polish city.
Commenting on the vote, Gdańsk's mayor-elect Aleksandra Dulkiewicz said she hoped the discussion of pedophilia in the Catholic Church in Poland would begin to be taken seriously.
In a statement published on the Gdańsk branch of Solidarity's website, the chairman of the board and head of the committee for the statue's construction said the councillors' decision was in violation of the Polish constitution as it was based on slander.
The deputy head of Gdańsk's branch of Solidarity, Karol Guzikiewicz, told journalists he fully supported clarification of Jankowski's case but said nothing had been proven against him.
He added that the foundation hoped to relocate the statue, but did not say when or where.
Jankowski, who died in 2010 and was never convicted of any sexual crime, was defrocked in 2005 amid claims he had corrupted minors, a year after an investigation into accusations that he abused a 13-year-old boy was dropped.
In February the statue was toppled from its plinth by activists who accused the Catholic Church of neglecting accusations that he sexually abused minors.
A series of accusations of sexual abuse against the clergy in Poland, where nearly 85 percent of the 38 million population are Catholic, have also divided the country.
Last month, Pope Francis held a landmark conference at the Vatican to discuss sexual abuse of minors amongst the clergy.