Jozef Wesolowski, the Vaticans former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, has been convicted of sex abuse by a church tribunal and has been defrocked in the first case of its kind.
The Associated Press reports that Wesolowski has two months to appeal to the Vatican. As a papal diplomat and citizen of the Vatican City State, he also faces criminal charges by the tribunal of Vatican City, which can carry a prison term. The Vatican said it would take “adequate measures” to ensure he doesn’t flee pending the outcome of that investigation.
John Paul II appointed him nuncio to Bolivia in his first posting. Wesolowski was ordained in 1972 by then archbishop of Krakow, cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who later became pope John Paul II.
He also worked in several countries in Central Asia and was appointed Papal Nuncio to the Dominican Republic by Benedict XVI in 2008.
Pope Francis has vowed to crack down against abuse in the Catholic Church, reiterating the zero-tolerance approach eventually taken up by his predecessor Benedict XVI following a wave of revelations.
According to he Dominican newspapers, Monsignor Wesolowski had sex for money with underage boys in the Zona colonial, the historic center of Santo Domingo.
According to The AP, Wesolowski was the highest-ranking Vatican official to be investigated for alleged sex abuse, and his case had raised questions about whether the Vatican, by extracting him from Dominican jurisdiction, was protecting him and placing its own investigations ahead of that of authorities in the Caribbean nation. The case was cited by two U.N. committees that grilled the Vatican earlier this year on its sex abuse record, but Vatican officials assured committee members that justice would be served within the Vatican’s legal system.
The case has been particularly delicate because Wesolowski was ordained both a priest and a bishop by his Polish countryman and former pope, St. John Paul II.
Other scandals in the Dominican Republic
Priest Juan Manuel Mota de Jesus, Father Johnny, was accused in Jarabacoa, La Vega, of raping young girls. In May, clergyman Wojciech Gil (Alberto) was accused of raping some 14 boys in a community of Santiago.
The Bishop of La Vega, Monsignor Antonio Camilo Gonzalez, asked for pardon from the persons affected by alleged abuses committed by representatives of the Catholic Church.
We ask for forgiveness from the persons affected, from their families, society and the people themselves for the times that with a bad example and the lack of a coherent testimony, as servants of Jesus Christ, we have offended, said Monsignor Antonio Camilo Gonzalez.