News (World)

Catholic priest arrested after organizing a sex party where a man overdosed

Father Tomasz Zmarzły
Father Tomasz Zmarzły Photo: Screenshot Polityka w Polsce

Just days after Pope Francis made headlines approving the blessing of same-sex unions, a priest in Poland has been arrested after a gay sex scandal rocked the Catholic Church there.

In September 2023, Father Tomasz Zmarzły of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Angels in southwestern Poland was suspended and his bishop resigned in the aftermath of a drug-fueled sex party that the priest allegedly organized at his home with a sex worker and a third, unidentified individual.

The priest remains in pre-trial detention after his arrest on Monday and could face up to 10 years in prison for “failing to provide assistance to a person whose life is at risk,” “violating another person’s sexual freedom,” and for drug-related offenses.

The diocese in the town of Dabrowa Gornicza has been engulfed in scandal since news of the sex party broke last fall.

According to Polish press reports, a sex worker hired by Zmarzły for the “party and play” gathering collapsed after consuming erectile dysfunction pills.

A third man called emergency services, but when paramedics arrived they were denied entry, according to witnesses. EMTs were able to attend to the collapsed sex worker only after police arrived at the scene.

Prosecutors denied that the overdose victim was a male sex worker while local media is reporting that he was.

After the incident in 2023, Father Zmarzły was reportedly suspended, while the head of the priest’s diocese, Bishop Grzegorz Kaszak, asked for permission from Pope Francis to resign.

Before resigning, Kaszak initiated an in-house canonical trial for Zmarzły, which will likely result in defrocking, or laicization, for the priest, according to observers.

Following the Zmarzły’s arrest, prosecutors detailed the charges.

“Three of the charges are drug-related offenses, one of which is for giving another person an illegal substance,” a spokesperson reported. “Another charge is related to violating another person’s sexual freedom. The fourth charge concerns causing serious bodily injury and failing to provide assistance to a person whose health and life was in danger.”

One charge relating to an unspecified sexual offense carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison.

The same Polish diocese has a history of scandal involving clergy in its parishes.

In 2010, the acting rector of a seminary was reportedly involved in a fight at a gay club in the area, initiating an investigation into activities by seminarians by the Vatican and resulting in the dissolution of the institution. 

And just months before Zmarzły threw his sex party, the corpse of a 26-year-old deacon was discovered with injuries suggesting homicide. Prosecutors determined he was killed by a 40-year-old priest in the diocese who then killed himself.

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