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Vatican checks allegations against Polish archbishop

 The church in Poland confirmed on Saturday that the Vatican is investigating allegations of sexual abuse made by a leading newspaper against the Archbishop of Poznan, Mgr Juliusz Paetz. In a front page article, accompanied by a large colour photograph, the up-market daily Rzeczpospolita, quoted seminary rector Tadeusz Karkosz, who said there had been many complaints from priests and lay Catholics about the archbishop molesting young priests and seminarians. A statement from the Polish bishops said: "Since the matter referred to in the article has been presented to the Holy See, it will doubtless reach an appropriate explanation and resolution." Mgr Paetz, who is in his late 60s, denied the accusations. In a letter to church deans he wrote: "I never molested - repeat, I never molested - our seminarians and priests! My spontaneous words and behaviour may have been misinterpreted. I would like to look in the faces of those who have accused me...I ask for your prayers for me and for the Church in Poznan." The archbishop felt "wronged and ill-treated" by the newspaper article according to his colleague, the Bishop of Poznan, Zdzislaw Fortuniak. Mgr Paetz was recovering after an operation and unable to appear in public, he said. On Saturday Polish radio announced that a group of 43 prominent intellectuals signed a petition was calling for the archbishop's suspension pending an investigation into the charges.