Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki on Wednesday said he had met with several victims of church sex abuse ahead of a Vatican meeting on the issue later this month.

Pope Francis has called senior bishops from around the world to Rome on February 21-24 to provide them with concrete measures to deal with widespread clergy sex abuse of children and young people.

“A couple of weeks ago. I invited victims of clergy sexual abuse in childhood or youth to meet with me,” Gadecki said in a video message on the episcopate’s website.

“I am grateful to all 28 individuals who accepted the invitation. I have already met with some of them. The rest of the meetings will be scheduled bit by bit.”

It is difficult to pinpoint the extent of sex abuse by clergy in the devout Catholic country of 38 million people.

But Marek Lisinski, head of a Polish foundation for its victims, told AFP that around 700 victims had disclosed clergy abuse to the organisation.

Polish courts have convicted 62 priests of the crime.

Gadecki, head of the Polish Episcopal Conference, said he is unable to reveal the details of his private conversations with victims because they had requested “total discretion”.

He said each meeting was important to him, broadening his knowledge of the issue and raising his awareness of the “harm” done to the victims.

He said it is necessary to “respond appropriately to the painful facts of the past and present and to prevent their repetition in the future.”

The statement came a day after Pope Francis’s public admission that priests have used nuns as “sexual slaves” and may still be doing so.