Clergy Child-Abuse Film in Catholic Poland Breaks Box Office Records

(Bloomberg) -- A Polish movie about pedophilia among the clergy has triggered a spike in negative attitude toward the church in one of Europe’s most Catholic nations.

Titled “Kler,” the Polish word for “clergy,” the film has broken box-office records in the country of 38 million people, attracting more than a tenth of the population to watch it in theaters. It explores child abuse, romantic liaisons, corruption, greed and alcoholism among clerics and has drawn condemnation from the nationalist ruling party, which has vowed to “re-Christianize” the European Union.

Since the movie’s debut, the number of Poles who disapprove of the church has jumped to 29 percent, from a consistent 20 percent in the past, according to an October survey by the CBOS pollster.

“While setting audience records, the movie’s simultaneously contributing to an increased public debate on the situation of the Catholic Church in Poland and in the world,” CBOS’s Rafal Boguszewski wrote in an email.

Still, the number of Poles who consider themselves Catholic remained little changed at 84 percent, the second highest in the EU after Croatia, according to the poll. Only 49 percent practice regularly.

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