Former Vatican ambassador faces child sex abuse charges from Holy See

Former Vatican ambassador faces child sex abuse charges from Holy See

Ex-Holy See ambassador, Józef Wesołowski (66), has been placed under house arrest and will face criminal charges of paedophilia. This will become the first case where a high-ranking Catholic official has faced such serious allegations with support from the Vatican itself.

The Holy See (the Catholic jurisdiction in Rome), recalled Wesolowski from the Dominican Republic last August following reports that he had been involved in the sexual abuse of teenage boys. The archbishop of Santo Domingo told pope Francis that he had heard rumors about Wesolowski paying boys as young as 13-years-old to masturbate in front of him.

The Vatican hosted a public tribunal in June which found Wesolowski guilty of abuse. Under church law, he was sentenced to the toughest penalty of laicisation (returning to life as a layman), which released him from diplomatic immunity and allowed Dominican Republic authorities to investigate the allegations.

On Tuesday, the criminal court in Vatican City State opened a preliminary hearing into his case, ordering the Holy See to place Wesolowski under house arrest pending trial. Medical documents claiming Wesoloski had impeding health problems ruled out more restrictive confinement in the Vatican’s prison.

Wesolowski could face 12 years imprisonment if found guilty by the Vatican criminal court. It is unclear whether Weslowski would serve jail time within a Vatican or Italian prison.

This case has become a test of pope Francis’ willingness to sanction high-ranking clerical officials for crimes the Vatican had previously laid blame on rogue priests, rather than direct representatives of the pope himself.

[Image by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons]