The Primate of Poland has informed the Vatican about new cases of pedophilia uncovered in a recent documentary. The Church and government are both under pressure following the revelation of what happened to the victims.
But when their parents’ backs were turned the brothers say Arkadiusz would cuddle, caress and kiss their sons. Bartek and Jakub were appalled, but did not confide in anyone for years about what had happened to them.
They were not the only victims. Arkadiusz stands accused of abusing dozens of boys in Pleszew in the 1990s, and bishops made numerous attempts to cover up his alleged actions.
Jakub and Bartek have opened up about what happened to them in a documentary “Hide and Seek,” directed by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski. It’s the second time the filmmakers have shocked Poland with revelations of pedophilia in the Church, having released another film last year exposing similar crimes.
Now the pressure is building within Poland for the Vatican to launch an inquiry.
Confrontation with their abuser
It was only 20 years later that Jakub and Bartek were able to muster the courage to track down their abuser and look him in the eye. “What do you think a child feels when he’s being French kissed behind closed doors?” Bartek asks the priest in the film.
Their conversation is being filmed with a hidden camera. “I remember that I touched you intimately and felt your erection — that you touched me, too, and gave me presents in exchange,” Bartek goes on. The priest doesn’t respond to the accusations. He does, however, say that he feels “guilty before God,” and that he prays every day.
Bartek and Jakub also visit a nun who knew what was going on back then but never tried to protect the boys. During the young men’s visit she appears confused. She tries to explain, in broken sentences, that there was nothing she could have done at the time.
It wasn’t easy for Jakub Pankowiak to go public with his story. Now 35, what he found most difficult was telling his daughter. “I feel relief — I’ve thrown off the burden. Unfortunately, I had to do it publicly; there was no other way.” He says he “takes no pleasure in the thought that the priest may now end up behind bars.” The whole of Poland has learned of his guilt; Jakub feels that is “punishment enough.”