Predatory priest to be on trial by the Vatican
The Vatican today announced that it would open a trial of its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, above, on charges of sexually abusing boys.
The case of the former envoy and archbishop caused an international scandal when it was learned that the Vatican had secretly recalled him from Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, before officials in the Caribbean nation could investigate.
At the time the Catholic Church said he could not be tried in the Dominican Republic because he had diplomatic immunity.
Wesolowski came to the attention of the Dominican authorities after a television journalist aired an investigation reporting that the ambassador had a habit of picking up shoeshine boys along the waterfront and taking them to secluded spots.
Some boys said he molested them after he gave them money.
Wesolowski was defrocked by the Vatican in June 2014 and has been awaiting a criminal trial by the Vatican since then.
A July 11 hearing will be the first trial on sexual abuse charges held under new rules for criminal procedures put in place by Pope Francis.
It was not known until today that the Vatican would also bring child pornography charges against the former ambassador.
The Vatican said that these were “serious charges” and that it would be a “delicate and detailed procedure.”
A Vatican spokesman, the Rev Ciro Benedettini, said that Vatican officials had found child pornography on the former ambassador’s computer and dated it to Wesolowski’s time in the Dominican Republic.
The announcement of the trial’s opening came on the same day as the resignation of the archbishop of St Paul and Minneapolis, whose archdiocese was recently indicted on mishandling sexual abuse by a priest.
Last week, the Vatican announced that it was creating a new tribunal to judge bishops accused of covering up or mishandling accusations of sexual abuse in their dioceses.
Father Benedettini said it was “pure coincidence” that the resignation of the archbishop of St Paul and Minneapolis came on the same day as the announcement of the Wesolowski trial.
He said it took so long to set a trial date because the investigation was “complex” and done in muliple countries.
“It takes time to verify and check,” he said.
Prosecutors in Wesolowski’s homeland, Poland, said that they were also interested in bringing a case against him, but that they did not have the cooperation of the Vatican or information from Dominican officials.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake