Polish Catholic Church Working on Abuse Procedures

Poland's Catholic Church is preparing to publish a book on internal procedures to deal with child sex abuse by priests as cases come to the fore in the staunchly Catholic country, the head of the nation's Catholic news agency said Thursday.

Marcin Przeciszewski told The Associated Press the book should come out by June, provided the Vatican approves the guidelines suggested by Poland's bishops last year. It is not clear when the Vatican will make a decision.

The book appears to be a response by Poland's church to allegations that it has been sweeping cases of sex abuse under the carpet, against the Vatican's efforts since 2001 to punish abusers. Poland's first conviction came in 2004, but allegations last year against two Polish clergymen — one was a Vatican envoy — serving in the Dominican Republic brought the problem to greater public attention.

"There is the will to publish it, there is nothing to hide," Przeciszewski said. "The value of it will be that in one book everyone will be able to find guidance how the church should react, what the procedures are."

Przeciszewski says the book will show that child sex abuse by priests is not as widespread as generally believed.

The book will include the Vatican's and the Polish church's instructions for dealing with cases of abuse, helping victims and educating priests, starting with documents issued under Polish-born Pope John Paul II. It may also include statistics, if they are ready in time.

Some 30 Polish priests have been tried for sex abuse. Most cases ended in suspended prison terms, indicating a general leniency for the church in Poland, where religion is taught in schools and senior church officials attend state ceremonies. The trend seems to be changing under public pressure, and a court recently ordered a priest to serve his term.