For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad, Polish archbishop appeals defrocking for sexual abuse: Vatican
August 26, 2014 Comments Off on For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad, Polish archbishop appeals defrocking for sexual abuse: Vatican
“the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome last year before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic”
For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN AUG. 23, 2014
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — He was a familiar figure to the skinny shoeshine boys who work along the oceanfront promenade here. Wearing black track pants and a baseball cap pulled low over his balding head, they say, he would stroll along in the late afternoon and bring one of them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero.
The boys say he gave them money to perform sexual acts. They called him “the Italian” because he spoke Spanish with an Italian accent.
It was only after he was spirited out of the country, the boys say, his picture splashed all over the local news media, that they learned his real identity: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic….
The case is the first time that a top Vatican ambassador, or nuncio — who serves as a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors. It has sent shock waves through the Vatican and two predominantly Catholic countries that have only begun to grapple with clergy sexual abuse: the Dominican Republic and Poland, where Mr. Wesolowski was ordained by the Polish prelate who later became Pope John Paul II….
Mr. Wesolowski has already faced the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law, short of excommunication: on June 27, he was defrocked by the Vatican, reducing him to the status of a layman. The Vatican, which as a city-state has its own judicial system, has also said it intends to try Mr. Wesolowski on criminal charges — the first time the Vatican has held a criminal trial for sexual abuse.
But far from settling the matter, the Vatican has stirred an outcry because it helped Mr. Wesolowski avoid criminal prosecution and a possible jail sentence in the Dominican Republic. Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome last year before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic….
A Dominican bishop, Victor Masalles, visiting Rome in late June, said in a Twitter message that he was surprised to see Mr. Wesolowski “strolling the Via della Scrofa,” in the city’s picturesque ancient center. He added, “The silence of the Church has hurt the people of God.”….
Mr. Wesolowski, 66, was ordained at 23 in Krakow by Archbishop Karol Józef Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II. In 1999, he was appointed papal nuncio to Bolivia, and in 2002, he was reassigned to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan….
Neither the cardinal, nor other church officials, reported the allegations to the local authorities, Dominican officials say. Vatican guidelines say that criminal sexual abuse accusations should be reported in countries where reporting is required….
The case has reverberated in Poland, where prosecutors have sought to extradite Mr. Wesolowski, who holds both Vatican and Polish citizenship. Poland has indicted another Polish priest, the Rev. Wojciech Gil, who fled the Dominican Republic last year amid allegations that he abused altar boys in his rural parish. Prosecutors in the Dominican Republic say that Father Gil and Mr. Wesolowski spent time with young boys at the nuncio’s beach house….
Polish archbishop appeals defrocking for sexual abuse: Vatican
VATICAN CITY Mon Aug 25, 2014
(Reuters) – A Polish archbishop accused of child sex abuse in the Dominican Republic has appealed against a Roman Catholic tribunal’s decision to defrock him, the Vatican said on Monday.
Jozef Wesolowski, who had served as a Vatican nuncio or ambassador to the Caribbean nation, was sentenced in late June to be expelled from the priesthood, an extremely rare step against such a senior church official.
“Former nuncio Josef Wesolowski has recently appealed, within the prescribed limit of two months, against the most serious canonical sentence, that of a return to the lay state, which has been imposed upon him,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement….
If found guilty in a criminal trial, Wesolowski could risk extradition to the Dominican Republic, which has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the case….