Vatican clears John Paul II aide Cardinal Dziwisz of clergy abuse negligence

Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz holds a picture of St. John Paul II at his residence March 4, 2016. (CNS photo/Marcin Mazur, Bishops' Conference of England and Wales)

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A Vatican investigation into allegations that the former top aide to St. John Paul II was negligent in handling sex abuse claims in his native Poland has cleared him of wrongdoing, the Vatican's embassy in Poland said April 22.

A statement from the embassy, or nunciature, said the investigation conducted by a Holy See envoy determined that Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz's actions were "correct, and therefore, the Holy See decided not to proceed any further."

The Vatican sent Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco to Poland in June 2021 to gather evidence and documentation into allegations of negligence while Dziwisz was archbishop of Krakow, Poland, from 2005 to 2016. A priest had said he gave Dziwisz a letter detailing allegations of abuse against another priest, and the presumed victim said he never heard back about what came of the case.

Bagnasco's investigation did not consider Dziwisz's tenure while he was at the Vatican and the private secretary to John Paul, who was pope from 1978-2005.

John Paul and Dziwisz, now 83, often dismissed allegations of sexual impropriety involving priests because of their experience in communist Poland, when many priests were discredited with false allegations.

A 2020 in-house Vatican investigation into disgraced and defrocked ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick raised uncomfortable questions about Dziwisz's role in McCarrick's appointment to head the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., despite evidence of sexual misconduct against him. The Vatican report found that John Paul had taken McCarrick out of consideration for the job but changed his mind after McCarrick wrote an impassioned letter to Dziwisz denying he ever had sex with anyone.

After John Paul died in 2005, Dziwisz was appointed archbishop of Krakow, in southern Poland, where he had served as secretary to Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, before they moved to the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI made Dziwisz a cardinal in 2006.

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