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e Catholic church abuse crisis continues to unfold around the world. But here in rural Europe, it has left a particular atmosphere of denial, anger, and division among the faithful. Especially in a country where the separation of church and state is thinner than most, Poland.
I'm Reuters' Martin Gorchovsky. This woman is the mother of one of five girls who a court says were molested by a priest. He is in prison now, yet Martha Azula says many villagers turned away from her instead, accused her and the other families of lying, that they wanted money.
We are witches, she says they told her, Poland is one of the most devout nations in Europe. When priests are accused of pedophilia, people tend to believe priest first and to ostracize victims and their families who are just looking for justice.
> Most of these parishioners in the town of Kalinovka say the same thing, the priest accused of Marta Zazula, the mother, is innocent.
The church's influence in daily life and political life here cannot be understated. After all, it was a Polish pope, John Paul II, who helped deliver the country from communism in the 1980s. Most children attend religious classes, priests are revered, lawmakers want their favor, their role in political party channels patriotism and piety.
But there are signs the country is coming to grips with the scale of the crisis. One activist group called Don't Be Afraid says there have been at least 60 convictions going back to the 1950s. And people have contacted it recently about hundreds more suspected cases.