WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Henryk Gulbinowicz, a prominent Polish cardinal, died Monday at the age of 97, days after the Vatican imposed sanctions on him over accusations he had sexually abused a seminarian and covered up abuse in another case.
The Polish Bishops’ Conference said Gulbinowicz died on Monday morning, adding in a brief statement: “Lord, give him eternal rest.” The body did not give details about the circumstances of his death.
Earlier this month, the Vatican’s embassy in Poland said Gulbinowicz, the retired archbishop of Wroclaw, was forbidden from using his bishop’s insignia and participating in any religious celebrations or public events.
The once well-respected cardinal, who supported Poland’s pro-democracy Solidarity movement in the 1980s, was also denied the right to have a cathedral burial service or to be buried in a cathedral.
Days after that announcement, it was reported that Gulbinowicz was hospitalized in Wroclaw and was unconscious.
Last year, prosecutors in Wroclaw opened an investigation into allegations against Gulbinowicz concerning sexual abuse of a seminarian in the 1980s, but they dropped the case because too much time had passed.
Gulbinowicz was also cited in a recent video documentary in Poland, called “Tell No One,” about predator priests and coverup efforts. It alleged that Gulbinowicz saved a priest suspected of abuse of minors from arrest by vouching for him.
Recently, allegations were also made that Gulbinowicz was an informer for the communist-era secret security service.
Gulbinowicz is the latest Polish prelate to be sanctioned after a Vatican-mandated investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.
The reckoning has rocked the Catholic hierarchy in Poland, where clergy have long been held in high esteem due to their support for Poles during the nation’s troubled history.