Polish activists pull down statue in protest

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Activists in Poland pulled down a statue of a priest yesterday after increasing allegations that he abused minors, a stunt they said was to protest the failure of the Polish Catholic Church to resolve the problem of clergy abuse.

The protest comes as Pope Francis gathered church leaders from around the world at the Vatican to grapple with the church’s abuse crisis.

Video footage showed three men attaching a rope around the statue of the late Monsignor Henryk Jankowski in the northern city of Gdansk and then pulling it down to the ground under the cover of darkness.

It was a striking act in a country where more than 90 per cent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic and where the church still enjoys significant authority in public life. That position appears to be changing as secularisation grows hand-in-hand with a flourishing economy.

Church leaders are also alienating Poles critical of its close ties to the conservative ruling party, accused by many of being anti-democratic.

Police said that the three men were arrested and that an investigation has been opened into whether they committed the crime of ‘insulting a monument,’ which can carry the punishment of either a fine or imprisonment.

Activists in Poland pull down a statue of a prominent deceased priest, Father Henryk Jankowski, who allegedly abused minors in Gdansk, Poland. – AP