Vatican ambassador convicted of abusing children in Dominican Republic

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 1:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 1:29am

The Vatican's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic has been convicted of sex abuse by a church tribunal.

Polish archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was defrocked pending further criminal proceedings in the first case of its kind.

He was recalled to Rome last year amid claims that he sexually abused children in the slums of Santo Domingo and was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is the first time that a Vatican ambassador has been defrocked for sexual abuse. Wesolowski has two months to appeal.

Once his canonical conviction is definitive he will have to face the Vatican City's criminal tribunal, which could sentence him to prison in what would be the first such trial for sex abuse within the tiny city state.

The conviction came six months after the UN's child rights watchdog highlighted Wesolowski's case as an example of the Vatican's failure to take concrete actions to prove its commitment to stamp out the abuse of minors by priests.

The sight of the Polish cleric wandering around Rome and lunching in restaurants sparked fury on social media sites this week.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Wesolowski would now be stripped of his freedom of movement while the legal process took its course.

The Church has faced a decade-long series of scandals over abuse by priests and lay officials, from Ireland to the US and Australia. It was fiercely condemned by the United Nations in January for failing to stamp out child abuse and allowing systematic cover-ups by simply moving around clergy suspected of raping or molesting children.

Wesolowski, 65, had been ambassador to the Dominican Republic since 2008, but was recalled by Pope Francis last August following accusations of sexually abusing minors.

He was ordained in 1972 by then archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II.



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