On the eleventh of May, 2019, a documentary about pedophilia in the Church in Poland was uploaded onto YouTube. The description reads: This is the truth about the Catholic Church. Directed by Tomasz Sekielski, it is remarkable not only because of its potentially revolutionary material — it was fully funded by individual donations and thus released online for free viewing.
Poland’s relationship with the Church has been brought into question the past few years, with more and more scandals getting media coverage. For many, Sekielski’s documentary was not surprising — the Church’s degeneracy is not just a “few bad apples” or the “inherent nature of the original sin”, it is in the structure of the Church, in the rules that govern it. What “Tell No One” does is explicitly portray how the perpetrators had support on every step of the way, were defended by everyone around them. They were moved church to church, city to city, allowed to continue working with kids despite legally being forbidden to.
The documentary shows how victims are ignored and blamed for the abuse they experienced by representants of the church. It makes it clear that priests rarely face the consequences of their actions, that their victims aren’t able to find out what happened to them. The fact that the film was available to watch at home turned out to be important — the testimonies of the victims’ abuse are graphic and extremely discomforting, many people weren’t able to watch it in one sitting.
The hope is that Sekielski, against all odds, manages to prompt change — or at least further the discussion. It is already clear that he has reignited the anger that many of us have been cultivating. As a society, Poland has to decide that its children are more important than the church’s reputation and authority, but then again — it’s not like we’re just suddenly realizing that the church is abusing its power. It happened in Boston, the Vatican, it’s happening in Poland. We owe it to the victims to listen to their stories and do everything in our power to change what is happening in our countries, to hold the church accountable.
We are still miles away from a secular country, but we are changing. We have politicians who are advocating for the ending of state subsidies to the Church, despite that for years it seemed untouchable and opposing it was political suicide. Robert Biedroń, founder of the new political party Wiosna (Spring) is one of those speaking out on the topic:
“Is there another state which gives money for building new churches and at the same time doesn’t have the money to build new kindergartens? In the heart of the European Union? In Poland this is happening, it’s pathological.”
We are on the road to secularism and Poland is moving forward, even if only in small steps at a time. Religion is slowly losing its ground — whether it takes 10 years or 30 years, change is coming.