“Tell No One”: a documentary about pedophilic Polish priests that’s making a big stir

This is a powerful, moving, and stirring film that will make you very angry at the Catholic Church, for it details—sometimes graphically—the sexual abuse of children by priests that was rife in Poland. The abuse is only now being put in front of people by this new movie, “Tell No One”. It’s two hours long, free on YouTube (below), and I found it mesmerizing. Victims, now grown, relate their abuse in detail, sometimes confront their aged abusers, and recount their frustrating and futile attempts to get the Church to take the abuse seriously. As we’ve seen in so many places, the Church just transferred the dog-collar rapists from one parish to another, most of them never receiving any serious punishment or even sanctions. The heartening thing is the tenacity of the survivors to get justice—or at least get their story told—and the sympathy of those who helped them, and of the two men who made this film.

One thing that was driven home to me is how easily these priests could convince children to participate in their depredations, for, especially in Catholic Poland, a priest is almost a Christ figure (one person even mentions that). And you can see first hand how the abuse had lifelong effects on the victims: trauma, anorexia, and suicide attempts.

And this is the Church—supposedly God’s rock on Earth. It’s infuriating. The perfidy of this institution is infuriating and shameful.

If you’ve seen the Oscar-winning movie, “Spotlight”, set in Boston, this is a complementary movie, for it’s a documentary and also allows you listen to the victims. You can see the pain in their eyes and hear it in their voices as they tell their stories.

According to the Associated Press and 9News from Australia, “Tell No One,” is making a big stir in Poland:

“Tell No One,” a film financed through a crowdfunding campaign, was released on YouTube on Saturday. By Monday, the documentary had more than 8 million views.

It triggered soul searching in a country where there is no higher authority than the Catholic Church and its clergy.

“Why do priests commit such crimes? Why did the bishops not react as they should? Why, for years, did a conspiracy of silence prevail among the clergy?” journalist Andrzej Gajcy asked Monday on the news site Onet, voicing some of the uncomfortable questions confronting many Poles.

The primate of Poland has thanked the brothers who made the film, Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, for their “courage.”

“I apologize for every wound inflicted by the people of the church,” Archbishop Wojciech Polak said Saturday.

The Vatican’s ambassador to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, also expressed sympathy for abuse survivors on behalf of both himself and Pope Francis.

One more bit of data:

In March, Polish church authorities said they had recorded cases of 382 clergymen who abused 625 victims under the age of 18 since 1990.

The documentary presents new evidence that priests who were known to be pedophiles were transferred between parishes instead of pushed out of the church or referred to police.

And those are only the recorded cases.
The movie is in Polish but has English subtitles, and if you can spare two hours I urge you to watch this. Thanks to Malgorzata for calling this to my attention.

29 Comments

  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to listen to it because I can’t do otherwise. Just to mention the additional story that came out today about the sports doctor at Ohio State. He molested 177 boys/men while at Ohio State and committed suicide in 2005. Some of his victims are now talking and the same thing is surprising. How did this guy get away with it for so long with so many? Some say it was well known at the time but no one would talk.

  2. Glenda Palmer
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I will add the above documentary along with “Abolish the Priesthood” (To Save the Church, Dismantle the Priesthood.)from The Atlantic, June 2019 Issue, James Caroll – to my short list of things I want to followup on. Thank you.

  3. Malgorzata
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    sub.

  4. Posted May 18, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of the Catholic Church, Bill Maher really went after it last night in his end-of-show editorial:

    “What happened to Bill Barr? … He was born into a strange cult … and it’s called Catholicism.”

    • rickflick
      Posted May 18, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Ha! I think he nailed it this time.

      • merilee
        Posted May 18, 2019 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

        To the cross😂

  5. dallos
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    https://2019euelectionspoland.com/2019/05/16/aftershocks-of-the-tell-no-one-documentary/

    “11 May 2019, the Tomasz and Marek Sekielski documentary about the paedophilia in the Catholic Church in Poland is released. No major TV wanted to produce it, …”

    “It is quite telling that the initial reactions of the bishops (apologetic) are more proper that the reactions of the PiS [Law and Justice] politicians. Two of the leading PiS MEP candidates have had disqualifying statements in this context:

    First, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, PiS candidate in Warsaw on public TV: “It is a baffled problem, specifically invented, to provoke […]. The European Coalition has nothing to say on European issues, and therefore deals with what it should not do”.

    Second, Ryszard Legutko, PiS candidate (no. 2) in Kraków claims that Church’s problem is homosexuality. Then, he says, “More than 80 percent of cases of abuse refer to boys from 12 to 17 years of age, well sorry about what is paedophilia? It is not paedophilia, it is simply pederasty”.

    The ruling party wants to change the penal code, too. The sentence for the crime of paedophilia will be 30 years, children will be protected until the age of 16, and Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister and a former MEP: “There will be no time limitation to punish someone for raping a child”.

    Yet…

    The problem is not in the law, the problem is with the application of the law. There is no image of the police arresting priests accused of paedophilia on TVs. There are images of the police arresting activists for provoking religious groups with antireligious posters.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-14/polish-cabinet-fights-back-as-church-sex-film-dominates-campaign

  6. GBJames
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  7. merilee
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I watched the first hour and will get the rest later. My first thought is that Catholics everywhere should be required to watch these documentaries. For me, a life long atheist, it really does little good. It is the brainwashed religious that should have to see all of this. You know, maybe we will have a test later to see if they get it.

    The really amazing part is that Catholics know all of this by now and yet it has very little effect on the church at any level. And based on the performance of the church with all of these crimes, it will continue to go on into the future. The system is set up and built in to attract sexual predators continuously. They will continue to protect these people and cover up – it’s like lambs to the slaughter. I know of nothing more evil than the Catholic Church. It is right up there with Trump and his cult.

    • Blue
      Posted May 18, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      +100 … … Blue

    • Posted May 18, 2019 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      I agree, a revolving pedophile door. They would have been shut down years ago if it had been any other organised group of degenerates.

    • Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      It did affect me though I’ve been an atheist for years. It’s one thing to hear about this stuff second hand; it’s another to see and hear the victims and feel their palpable pain, and to see a priest confess to pedophilia and to see other priests not care much and/or try to cover it up. It’s that kind of immediacy that doesn’t change my criticism of Catholicism but makes it sharper and with more background.

  9. Posted May 18, 2019 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    There was a recent documentary that I was listening to on the radio. NPR? I don’t remember, but it was recent and I don’t listen to loony programs on the radio. In it was an inside account describing the pervasive practice of homosexuality within the Vatican. There, high ranking priests were well known to have young men as their.. special friends. It wasn’t even kept secret. This is peripheral to the problem at hand but but true it illustrates the total hypocrisy and completely insular culture that penetrates deep within the Catholic church.

  10. Neil Wolfe
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Louis CK made a great video about the Catholic Church. However, much like the movie Idiocracy, it now feels more like a documentary than a farce.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 18, 2019 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      “…it now feels more like a documentary than a farce.”

      And yet, they keep coming in to mass and putting money in the basket. They’ve been trained very thoroughly.

  11. W.Benson
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Where does John Paul II fit into all of this?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Has he revoked the requirements for celibacy in the Catholic clergy? (Genuine question – I’ve not wasted time on them.)
      If he hasn’t, then he’s actively promoting the next generation of such stories.
      What’s that Lassie? There’s a theological reason for priests in the Catholic church to be celibate? Then why did they accept married clergy when the Church of England accepted women into the clergy? Some real theological consistency there.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Psst…. John Paul II died in 2005!

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

          Don’t they, like, reincarnate, or something? Or is that Dali Phoenices? I’m sure there must be something special about being a pope for us to pay attention to them.
          If, of course, anyone pays attention to them. Which one are we on this year?

          • GBJames
            Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

            Right now we’re on the Argentinian one. The one who says ambiguous nice things about people while continuing to protect pedophile priests. Oh… and he has humble shoes, don’t ya know.

    • Posted May 22, 2019 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      That’s what I wondered too – Poland is, after all, his home country.

  12. FB
    Posted May 18, 2019 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Instead of Pope Francis washing feet of prisoners the next Holy Thursday, I would like to see him, and all the cardinals, watching “Spotlight” or “Tell no one” at St Peter’s Basilica. Wouldn’t that make Jesus happy?

    • rickflick
      Posted May 18, 2019 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      My guess is the upper levels of the Vatican and probably many others do see these films. There is undoubtedly huge social pressure to let all of this slide, employing the usual stonewalling and sandbagging. The sexual hypocrisy runs so deep that there is probably nothing that can stop it except for the complete collapse of the criminal syndicate (wait a generation or two). According to reputable sources about 85% of Vatican officers are gay and enjoy orgies at the same time they publicly denounce homosexuality, condemning gays to hell.

  13. Heike
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    1/ I told a German Catholic friend about this movie. She didn’t respond but instead told me about some communal activity. She hasn’t suffered abuse. Church, for her, is a communal center where she meets friends and around which most of her social life revolves. Impossible to be without. What happens in higher echelons doesn’t affect her daily life, i.e., can/should/must be disregarded.

    2/ This documentary tells us something about the Catholic Church but also about Polish society as a whole. In the family it is the father whose authority must not be questioned. It is just a wild guess that more horror stories must be buried in Polish society since it may be much harder to point to abuse in one’s own family affecting one’s own reputation – and honor.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 20, 2019 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      “What happens in higher echelons doesn’t affect her daily life”

      She should be aware that she’s indirectly supporting the higher echelons by being part of the lower echelons. But, turning a blind eye must be part of being religious in the first place – ignoring inconvenient true facts about reality.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 20, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        That blind-eye-turning is precisely what I’ve encountered when asking Catholics how they can remain supporters of the institution. Drives me nuts.

  14. Posted June 11, 2019 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    It’s so disturbing that these abuses have gone unchecked for decades. Even worse, they are committing these crimes in God’s name. “Certainly the one who does wrong will be repaid for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Colossians 3:25) I look forward to the day when Jehovah God brings these priests to justice.

  15. Marion
    Posted June 14, 2019 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/men-need-to-stand-up-and-apologize-for-sexual-abuse-says-vagina-monologues-playwright-eve-ensler-1.5168774
    This lady who was abused by her father uses words that would help describe why the abused return: horrifying, wrong, pleasurable, terrifying, etc. and turns into a sick competition for attention. The perpetrators are skilled; they know how to paralyze the mind and intimidate and threaten. WHY ARE THEY NOT PROSECUTED? Perhaps because at the top,too many are involved in the same crime. Sick perversion.


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