Covering up sexual scandals, taking bribes for organizing private audiences, trading in church offices. Will Cardinal Dziwisz defend himself against increasingly frequent accusations of his personal responsibility for the scandals associated with the pontificate of Pope John Paul II? A new documentary called "Don Stanislao" shows the downfall of the hierarch, who returned to Poland as the guardian of the legacy of John Paul II, but can now play a central role in tarnishing it.
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"I saw envelopes with numbers. If it was five, it meant that there were 5 thousand dollars inside. There was an envelope with number 10 for Cardinal Dziwisz," says one of the victims of Theodore McCarrick, a former American cardinal who was expelled from the priesthood for pedophilia, in a documentary film "Don Stanislao". The money was to go to the papal secretary for organizing as well as expediting the audience with Pope John Paul II.

All roads lead to Dziwisz

The McCarrick scandal is one of the main subjects covered in "Don Stanislao. The other face of Cardinal Dziwisz" - a documentary aired this week by private broadcaster TVN. The nearly one and a half-hour long material is a collection of accusations concerning Cardinal Dziwisz. There is no hard evidence that would unequivocally confirm Dziwisz's guilt, but it offers an impressive array of testimonies as well as shows the defensive attitude of the hierarch who is sinking himself by refusing to answer questions.

Don Stanislao - that's how the papal secretary was called in the Vatican. Translated from Italian, it means simply "Father Stanislaw". During Pope John Paul II pontificate, even when he was already Archbishop, Dziwisz used this term to emphasize that he was an ordinary priest who only serves the Pope. When he returned to Poland, he kept using the moniker. First as Metropolitan of Cracow, and now a retired cardinal.

Over the years, the term "Don Stanislao" began to change its meaning as more and more scandals were revealed, bringing associations with mafia and organized crime - a grey eminence behind the greatest Vatican scandals. This change was summed up neatly by Frédéric Martel, author of the best-selling book called "Sodom", covering homosexual relationships and hypocrisy in the Vatican. Martel is quoted in the documentary saying that: - All roads led to Dziwisz. The former papal secretary appears in all the greatest scandals concerning the cover-up of acts of pedophilia.  

Martel talks about his meeting with the cardinal in Cracow: - He lied a during the interview. I talked to many hierarchs, priests, but he was the only one who lied, claiming that I caught him by surprise.

The many deals of Cardinal Dziwisz

How rich was Cardinal Dziwisz when he returned to Poland? The filmmakers do not answer this question, but suggest that he financed the construction of a care center in Raba Wyżna, as well as a church in a neighboring town, while he was still living in the Vatican.

Where did his wealth come from? Much has been written about it by the American press and investigative journalists there, including Jason Berry, author of publications and books on the sexual abuse of children by the clergy. In the new documentary, Berry repeats accusations from his earlier publications: - Dziwisz and Angelo Sodano (Secretary of State of the Holy See under Pope John Paul II) received large sums from the Legionaries of Christ.

If the funds were coming from the Legionaries of Christ, it means that in fact they were offered by the founder of the Order, perhaps the most demonic figure of the last decades of the Catholic Church, who was harmed more than 100 victims of sexual abuse - Marcial Maciel Degollado. International and Polish media have already written about the fact that it was Cardinal Dziwisz who for years protected the pedophile clergyman and used his property (it was in the Roman Centre of the Legionaries that the former papal secretary organized a reception after the ceremony of granting him the title of Cardinal). However, there is no hard proof for that, only strong circumstantial evidence.

The same is true when it comes to Dziwisz's role in the Theodore McCarrick's scandal. The Vatican was informed that the clergyman was a sexual predator, but none of the reports led to formal proceedings. According to American investigative journalists, it was Cardinal Dziwisz who was supposed to be the main force behind McCarrick's career: giving him cardinal dignity and entrusting him one of the most important American metropoli- the one in Washington D.C. He is accused of accepting money to provide McCarrick with the opportunity to have private audiences with Pope John Paul II at the time when the future of his career in the church was up in the air.  

The new Vatican report confirms that Dziwisz was supporting McCarrick

According to the report on the McCarrick scandal published this week by the Holy See, It was not until 1999 that the Holy See received the official notice concerning the allegations against McCarrick. Pope John Paul II, who wanted to place the American hierarch at the head of the Washington metropolis, decided to verify these accusations.

The investigation was discontinued for lack of evidence, but nevertheless McCarrick's candidacy was withdrawn. However, in August 2000, the Pope changed his mind. According to the Vatican's report, the decision of John Paul II was influenced by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz (the cardinal's name is mentioned 46 times in the report). On August 6, 2000, McCarrick wrote a personal three-page letter to the then papal secretary, in which he denied all charges.

The letter proves that Dziwisz and McCorrick were writing to each other, the tone of correspondence points to close intimacy between them. "Today I am writing because of the trust in you and your love for the Church and our Pope. I heard that before his death, Cardinal O'Connor wrote a letter to the Holy Father in which he strongly attacked my life as a bishop, me as a priest and even a man. If this is true, this is a very serious accusation that confuses me, (...) Your Excellency, I have certainly made mistakes and perhaps sometimes lacked prudence, but for seventy years of my life, I have had no sexual relations with anyone. (...) I thought I wouldn't write to you about these terrible charges and leave the matter in the hands of God, who is the Judge of all things. However, I discussed this and was advised to contact you because I consider you a good friend and brother.

The letter ends with a thank you note: "Thank you for letting me write to you. (...) Please pray for me. This is a difficult moment in my life.  With gratitude for your patience in reading this letter. With a fraternal greeting. - + Theodore McCarrick".

From the testimony given by Bishop James Harvey, the then Prefect of the Papal House, Dziwisz gave him a copy of McCarrick's letter requesting that it be translated for the Pope - the letter was written by hand. "It was a complete exception. I had never been asked for anything like this before. - The authors of the report quote the prefect. The letter was first typed in English and then translated into Italian.

The report does not explain what precisely made Pope John Paul II to change his mind and appoint McCarrick to the metropolis of Washington. However, the evidence is clear that Cardinal Dziwisz played a role in this process and it was him who convinced the Pope to believe in the sincerity of the American clergyman.

Polish victim accuses Cardinal Dziwisz

Meanwhile, the documentary "Don Stanislao" is not only mentioning the Vatican scandals, but also goes back to the times when Cardinal Dziwisz was the Metropolitan of Cracow. Against the background of the pedophile scandals in the Polish Church, the Archdiocese of Krakow has not yet had to explain itself for protecting the perpetrators. However, since Janusz Szymik, the victim of a pedophile clergyman from a neighboring diocese, turned to Cardinal Dziwisz for help but did not receive it, the image of the hierarch has suffered. The more so as the former Metropolitan denies that he received the letter of the victim. He even invoked the query in the curial archive. This is hardly a convincing defense, since there are two direct witnesses - Szymik himself and Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, who gave the cardinal a letter with the written testimony of the victim.

What will this case end with? Janusz Szymik is determined. In the documentary he said that the letter describing his history and the cardinal's negligence has already reached Pope Francis. It is possible that the Vatican will decide to react. For the former papal secretary, it would be a blow to his entire ecclesiastical career and legacy.

The cardinal evades

Even before the Vatican reacts, the cardinal is not doing himself any favours. His last interview (fragments of which can be found in the documentary) showed the hierarch in a very bad light. His answers to the questions concerning the Vatican scandals were all a variation of the same evasive tactics - "I don't know", "I didn't know anything", "I have no knowledge", "It wasn't in my jurisdiction".

In the documentary, he went even further with this strategy. He simply refused to answer any of the questions. For many weeks he avoided meetings, before finally claiming during a phone conversation that any attempt to ask him difficult questions is an attack on him and a witch hunt. - And for this to happen in my homeland, - he remarked bitterly.

After the documentary was aired, Cardinal Dziwisz issued a statement. He wrote in it that he was ready to explain all the issues, including those raised in "Don Stanislao". However, he wants to stand in front of a special Church committee created to shed more light on his case.  


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