The founder and head of a Polish organization dedicated to helping victims of pedophile priests has resigned after allegations surfaced that he extorted money from a victim and demanded money from the producers of a documentary about clerical abuse.
The foundation “Have No Fear” said the head of its board, Marek Lisinski, has resigned and that it has opened an internal audit into the allegations reported Thursday by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
A statement on the foundation website said the audit is also to check whether Lisinski’s actions as a private person had any influence on the foundation’s finance and activity.
Pope Francis kissed Lisinski’s hand during a meeting with abuse victims in February at the Vatican. Lisinski was part of a group that gave Francis a report on child sex abuse by priests in Poland.
Gazeta Wyborcza quoted a victim of a priest, saying she offered Lisinski an amount of money and lent another sum after he said he had pancreatic cancer. The woman, identified only as Katarzyna, 29, was abducted and abused by a priest when she was 13 and a court in Poland found the priests guilty and ruled last year that a Roman Catholic order the priest belonged to should pay her damages.
The development comes as the mostly Roman Catholic country has begun a reckoning with the problem of clerical sex abuse.
Lisinski, who says he is a survivor of clerical abuse, played a key role in forcing the public to confront the problem by forming the foundation five years ago.
It vowed it would keep working to help victims.