Vatican defrocks former nuncio accused of sex abuse

A former papal ambassador accused of paying for sex with minors has been dismissed from the clerical state.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made the order against Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, a former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic.

The order against Polish-born Wesołowski is thought to be the first such move taken against a papal ambassador for sexual abuse.

The archbishop will have two months to prepare an appeal against the ruling.

Wesolowski was removed from his Dominican Republic post last August with little explanation.

The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, reported allegations against Wesolowski to Pope Francis.

News accounts at the time gave accounts of paying for sex with minors and being connected to a Polish priest accused of sexually assaulting at least 14 underage boys.

The Vatican said at the time it would co-operate with Dominican authorities.

The CDF statement does not declare Wesolowski guilty of any specific crime.

It states that the first part of a canonical process against him has been finished and that he has been dismissed from the clerical state.

The Holy See also announced that the archbishop faces criminal charges in the Vatican courts.

Proceedings will reportedly start after the conclusion of any appeal against the laicisation order.

Wesolowski could risk extradition to the Dominican Republic, if he is found guilty in a criminal trial.

A CDF statement noted that Wesołowski has been at liberty in Rome since he was recalled, saying the archbishop has had a “relative freedom of movement”.

“Taking into account the sentence now pronounced by the dicastery . . . there will be taken against the former nuncio all measures appropriate to the seriousness of the case,” the statement noted.

Laicisation means the archbishop can no longer perform priestly duties or present himself as a priest.

Authorities in the Dominican Republic are investigating Wesołowski, who was appointed as nuncio to the country in 2008, but they have yet to announce any charges.

Investigations in Poland are also continuing.


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