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Polish Church asks for forgiveness for pedophilia cases

FILE PHOTO: People cast shadows as they pray in front of the statue of Pope John Paul II on the ninth anniversary of his death in Wadowice, the birth place of the Polish pope, April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's Catholic Church on Monday asked victims of sexual abuse by the clergy for forgiveness, a month after an appeal court upheld a ruling stating the Church was responsible for the crimes of one if its priests.

The Catholic Church worldwide is reeling from crises involving sexual abuse of minors, damaging confidence in the Church in Chile, the United States, Australia and Ireland and other countries.

The Polish court of appeal upheld last month a landmark ruling granting a million zloty ($260,000) in compensation to a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest, accepting that the Church was responsible.

"We ask God, the victims of abuse, their families and the Church community for forgiveness for all the harm done to children and young people and their relatives," the Polish Bishops wrote in a statement after a conference dedicated to the issue.

They called on victims to report the crimes to Church and state authorities.

"We note with sadness that in Poland too there are cases of sexual abuse of children and young people by some members of the clergy and those working in the Church. We repeat after Pope Francis: 'The pain of the victims and of their families is also our pain,'" the bishops said.

Pope Francis will meet bishops from around the world at the Vatican in February to discuss the protection of minors.

More than 5 million people flocked to cinemas across Poland in recent weeks to watch a movie called "Clergy" that depicts Catholic priests in a highly unflattering light, breaking box-office records.

(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)