Polish authorities on Friday charged three men who overturned a statue of a Polish priest accused of sex abuse in the northern city of Gdansk. Video footage on social media showed the men using a rope early Thursday to topple the statue of Father Henryk Jankowski, who died in 2010 and has faced accusations of paedophilia. They then draped underwear and altar boy clothing onto the fallen statue. They were charged with “disrespecting a statue and damaging it,” Grazyna Wawryniuk, spokeswoman for the regional prosecutor’s office, told AFP. The incident occurred several hours before the opening of a landmark Vatican summit on fighting child abuse within the Catholic Church. Fresh claims of abuse against Jankowski emerged in December when the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza published an article reviving allegations that first surfaced years ago. In a message to independent Polish website OKO.press, the three Warsaw residents known for joining protests against the conservative government said they wanted to “symbolically knock down the false memory and veneration of Henryk Jankowski from a societal pedestal”. “We accuse the Catholic Church and its representatives of not having reacted despite being aware of the harm done by Henryk Jankowski,” they said. It was not the first time the statue was targeted, with activists splashing red paint symbolising blood on its hands shortly after the Gazeta Wyborcza article was published. Privately financed, the statue was unlikely to be restored to its pedestal. Jankowski was formerly a close aide to Lech Walesa during the Gdansk shipyard strikes in 1980 headed by the anti-communist Solidarity movement, which led to the creation of Poland’s first union outside government control. But after the fall of communism, the priest became increasingly known for his anti-Semitic remarks. Published in Daily Times, February 24th 2019.