Poland, Czech Republic

Poland/1: Minors protection centre in Krakow  To strengthen the protection of minors from the risk of sexual abuse, the Centre for the protection of children was set up at the Academy of St. Ignatius in Krakow, with the goal of providing support in tackling this crime, help recognize the first signs of abuse, focusing on prevention and support to the victims. Past June the Polish episcopate set up the office of the coordinator for the protection of minors, under the supervision of Fr Adam Zak. “With the creation of the coordinator’s office for child protection the entire Polish episcopate showed its determination to tackle the issue”, the priest pointed out. In the awareness of the methodological deficit which in Poland prevents a truthful evaluation of the problem, Fr Zak believes that an evidence of the gravity of the phenomenon is to be seen “not so much in the number of those who committed crimes of paedophilia but rather in the number of victims.” “For this reason the latter deserve the full attention of the Church”, he pointed out. On the basis of his experience in the priesthood, Fr Zak said that through the adoption of targeted provisions paedophilia could be “thwarted and even stemmed or eliminated completely.” An international conference on the problem of child abuse is being planned for the coming month of June.Poland/2: Koszalin Caritas supports single mothers Every year the Caritas centre in the Polish diocese of Koszalin Kolobrzeg provides support to some fifty mothers with their children, who fled from their homes because of mistreatment. To date, over 700 mothers and an equal number of children have found shelter, help and support in a special Centre for families in crisis on the Home for single mothers, opened a few years ago in the city of Koszalin, in the north of Poland. Stay in these reception centres could last for an entire year, but as the director of diocesan Caritas Adam Wakulicz said, “often the guests become independent before the end of their stay in the centre”, during which they have free access to legal advice, psychological support and social assistance provided by volunteers. However, to continue offering this service Caritas needs financial means. Half of the amount needed is given by donors or granted via public funding. Through voluntary adhesion donors can provide financial coverage of one or more days of full assistance to a mother and child. It’s also possible to purchase “certificates” testifying to the amount of money donated to the diocesan Caritas for this purpose. Each mother with child costs about 80 zloty per day” (approximately 20 euro). Caritas Koszalin provides support to some 15 mothers with child every day. That’s why funding is needed.  Czech Republic: evaluation of the visit ad liminaAn openness towards the society and sharing of values of the Church are the main things that the Holy Father expects from the Catholic faithful from the Czech republic, said Mons. Jan Graubner, archbishop of Olomouc, after the return to homeland from the Ad Limina apostolorum visit of the Czech and Moravian bishops in Vatican (11-17 February). As he continued, the prelates appreciate the attitude of pope Francis in regard to implementation of the law on property composition between the Church and the state which is currently under way in the Czech republic. The Holy Father underlined the importance to establish an economic system that would “guarantee basic financial means and freedom for pastoral care to every Church institution”. Apart from the official program, the prelates spent a lot of time with over 300 Czech pilgrims who came to Rome to accompany their shepherds and to participate at holy masses celebrated daily in the main basilicas in Rome. On 14 February, the faithful attended the eucharistic celebration in the Basilica of St. Clement where the tomb of St. Cyril, “apostol of the Slavic nations” lies, to commemorate the 1145th anniversary of his death. Members of the Czech Bishops´conference met also with Pavel Vošalík, ambassador of the Czech republic by the Holy See, according to whom the Ad limina visit of the Czech and Moravian bishops “reminds us of the universal values” on which contemporary society has been built. “These are the values that make us a part of the great community, not an isolated island in the middle of Europe”, said Vošalík, emphasizing that the history of the Church can´t be separated from the history of the nation. The stay of bishops in Rome culminated with their prayers for the Czech nation at the memorial of Jan Palach who committed suicide by self-immolation to protest against occupation of his native country by Warsaw pact armies in 1969.

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