The Polish police have arrested a man for defacing a John Paul II statue following pedophilia revelations.
Two monuments to Pope John Paul II have been defaced over the past week in Poland, after a book and a documentary aired explosive allegations that he had tolerated pedophile priests during his term as the archbishop of Krakow. One man was arrested on Friday for the attack in Lodz.
“Whatever one thinks of the Pope, vandalism is never the solution. It’s hard to find words to describe such behavior on the anniversary of someone’s death,” officials in the central Polish city said on April 2, sharing a photo of the defaced monument on Facebook.
By Monday morning, another monument to the pope, in Stalowa Wola in eastern Poland, was also defaced.
On Friday morning, the Lodz Prosecutor’s Office announced the arrest of a 25-year-old man, who was charged with defacing the monument and insulting the feelings of believers. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison. The outlet RMF24 claimed there were more perpetrators, and that the attack was caught on security cameras at the entrance to the cathedral.
The statue in Lodz had been doused with red paint, the pontiff’s face had been painted yellow, and the pedestal inscribed with “maxima culpa” (ultimate fault). Authorities believe this was a reference to the title of Dutch journalist Ekke Overbeek’s book, published in Poland last month.
Overbeek has argued that the future pope, as archbishop of Krakow, covered up the sexual abuse of boys by at least three Catholic priests during the 1970s. Similar claims were made in a documentary journalist Marcin Gutowski made for the Polish channel TV24, which aired in early March.
John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla, and is the only Pole to become the head of the Roman Catholic Church to date. From 1964 to his election in 1978, he was the archbishop of Krakow. His elevation has been widely credited with the rise of anti-Communist advocacy in Poland in the 1980s. John Paul II died in 2005 and was declared a saint in 2014.
Polish authorities have responded to the claims by saying all accusations of sexual abuse need to be thoroughly investigated, but defended the late pontiff by saying his critics relied on lies fabricated by the Communist government and that the Catholic church had been in a difficult situation at the time.