Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sep 6, 2013 / 04:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of the Dominican Republic have voiced support for the investigation launched into accusations of sexual misconduct against the former nuncio to the country, Archbishop Józef Wesolowski.
The bishops called for a “purification of the Church and for the removal of those who unworthily exercise this ministry and do not deserve to be called priests,” in a letter signed by Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez of Santo Domingo and president of the Dominican bishops' conference.
This purification should take place with “the collaboration of authentic priests, who are the majority, and of the church community.”
Archbishop Wesolowski resigned from his post Aug. 21 in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct that were reported in the media.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said Sept. 4 that Archbishop Wesolowski had been “relieved of his duties and the Holy See has launched an investigation.”
Francisco Dominguez, attorney general of the Dominican Republic, has said that his office will also conduct an investigation.
“In recent weeks, the public has been shocked repeatedly by embarrassing behavior in different areas of the country by clergy members of the Catholic Church, who we expect and who ought to behave differently,” said Cardinal López.
The Church in the Dominican Republic was recently rocked by accusations of sexual abuse against Father Juan Manuel Mota de Jesus.
The “root problem” of clergy abuse, Cardinal López said, is “an undetermined number” of candidates preparing for the priesthood who “do not have an authentic vocation” and who “during formation are able to feign something that they are not, and if formation directors are not careful, they sneak into the clergy, and later the bishops pay the consequences for their excesses and turmoil.”
As president of the Dominican bishops, he asked “forgiveness of the victims of the heartless men who have abused them and their families” as well as forgiveness “of the community of the Catholic Church, which is humiliated by this unspeakable abuse, and also of the entire Dominican nation which is witnessing this unfortunate spectacle.”
The cardinal pleaded with Dominican officials to “act with conviction and clarity” in their investigations and to impose the punishments established by law.
“May those who have done wrong assume responsibly the consequences of their actions.”