Former Vatican diplomat Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who served as an ambassador to the Dominican Republic, was defrocked after being convicted of child sexual abuse. He is likely to face criminal prosecution at the Vatican once church inquiries are completed.
Originally from Poland, 65-year-old Wesolowski was removed from his post in the Dominican Republic and called back to the Vatican in August 2013 after several boys in Santo Domingo complained that he had sexually abused them. According to prosecutors from the Caribbean nation, there is convincing evidence that the priest violated young boys. In fact, Wesolowski has earlier been accused of similar crimes in Poland.
Wesolowski happens to be the highest-ranking official in the Vatican to be investigated on such grounds. Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith investigated the charges against the nuncio as it has jurisdiction over all cases of sexual abuse reported in the Roman Catholic Church.
“Measures will be taken so he is in a precise restricted location, without any freedom of movement, since he has been found guilty of a serious crime and is awaiting further legal action,” said the Vatican’s chief spokesman, Reverend Federico Lombardi on June 27th.
The Vatican had refused to have him extradited last January, saying he “is a citizen of the Vatican” and has the right to uphold diplomatic immunity. Recently, a bishop from the Dominican Republic said he saw Wesolowski walking about freely on the streets of Rome. According to SNAP, a support group for survivors of clerical sexual abuse in Chicago, the prelate’s sentence is not binding enough and ideally, he should be handed over to secular authorities.
“Wesolowski should face a criminal trial, not a church proceeding. And he should be in a secular jail. And he might have been in one for months, had Vatican officials cooperated with law enforcement,” said SNAP’s national director, David Clohessy.
After Wesolowski was ordained as a priest and bishop, he served as an envoy to the Republic for half a decade until last year. He now has two months to make an appeal before he is compelled to face criminal proceedings at the Vatican.
In May, Pope Francis called for “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and said three bishops were being investigated at that point in time. In September 2013, Bishop Gabino Miranda was defrocked by the Peruvian Bishops Conference, upon orders from the Vatican for sexually abusing minors.
Photo Credit: VaticanCrimes