Around this time last year, Tomasz and Marek Sekielski released their hard-hitting Polish-language documentary Do Not Tell Anyone about the problem of sexually abusive priests in the Polish Catholic Church.
Now they’re back: The second film in the series, Zabawa w Chowanego (Playing Hide and Seek), has been released on YouTube, telling the story of Bartek and Jakub Pankowiak, two Polish brothers seeking to confront the priest who molested them.
You can watch it below. English subtitles are available.
The release date couldn’t be more perfectly timed. Monday marked the 100th birthday of Karol Wojtyla, better known as Pope John Paul II. The Polish pope remains deeply beloved in his homeland. He’s also the pontiff who was presiding over the Vatican when the abuse at the heart of Playing Hide and Seek took place.
That matters, because a large part of the movie deals with senior church officials in Poland who were aware of sexual abuse being perpetrated against children and failed to act appropriately, enabling those pedophile priests to harm more children. The Sekielski brothers allege that such complicity goes straight to the top: They plan to release a third documentary focusing specifically on John Paul II’s role in covering up sex crimes committed by Polish priests.
The film Hide and Seek shows that the standards of protecting children and youth in the Church have not been obeyed.
Due to the information presented in the film, I am asking the Holy See through the nunciature [the Vatican embassy] to initiate proceedings ordered by Motu Proprio [papal decree] of Pope Francis, regarding abandonment of the action required by law.
If the Vatican investigation confirms the cover-up the Sekielskis have documented, their charges against the sainted pontiff will be that much more difficult to ignore — and that could be a massive upset for the Church in Poland.
On the other hand, though, the Church will have a hard time convincing the video’s hordes of viewers — 6.3 million and counting in just under a week — of their lack of complicity. It’s heartbreaking to watch the Pankowiak brothers struggle to reach out to Church officials who stonewall them at every turn.
The Church has admitted that more than 400 Polish clergymen had sexually abused minors over the past 30 years, but on the question of cover-ups perpetrated by the hierarchy, they’ve remained largely silent, and more information is needed.
A government investigation into pedophile priests, promised after the Sekielskis’ first film shone a spotlight on the issue, has yet to be convened by the country’s current right-of-center government.