Vatican City, Sep 12, 2013 / 10:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Vatican spokesman has said that the Holy See is willing to hand over a former nuncio accused of sexual misconduct to civil authorities in the Dominican Republic if requested to do so.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said that the Holy See continues to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations into Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic.
Because there is no extradition treaty between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic, the Holy See is not required to return the nuncio to Dominican officials. In addition, the Vatican has a legal right to invoke diplomatic immunity in protection of the nuncio.
However, Fr. Lombardi told CNA on Sept. 12 that the Holy See has declared “our intention to cooperate with the Dominican authorities whenever they require it.”
The recall of the nuncio to the Vatican “by no means implies the desire to prevent him from assuming his responsibility for whatever may come out of the investigations” in the Dominican Republic,” Fr. Lombardi explained.
Accusations of sexual misconduct reported in the media led to the resignation of Archbishop Wesolowski on Aug. 21.
Fr. Lombardi explained that after Church authorities were informed of the “serious accusations” against Archbishop Wesolowski, the Vatican Secretary of State responded quickly, “calling back the Nuncio, stripping him of his duty and starting an investigation entrusted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
After the initial accusations were made public, a 13-year-old boy in the country said in a television interview that the nuncio had solicited him for sexual favors in exchange for money. The boy has been taken into protective custody by Dominican Republic officials.
Both the Holy See and the Dominican Republic’s attorney general have announced that they are conducting investigations into the accusations.
The bishops of the Dominican Republic have voiced support for the investigations and called for a purification of the Church. Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo called on civil authorities to act with “determination” and “clarity” in looking into the accusations.