Pedophile Priest Scandal in Dominican Republic Puts Vatican Officials in the Hot Seat

Once again, the scandal of child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests has made it all the way to Rome. In this case, the Dominican Republic’s papal nuncio (the Vatican version of an ambassador) has been called back to Rome after his name was linked to abuse allegations.

The Vatican insists that Polish-born Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, removed from office late last month, has not been accused of molesting anybody. However, official channels are withholding details about what really happened. A Vatican spokesman confirmed that the Church is conducting an investigation but refused to provide details about its subject matter. Francisco Dominguez Brito, the Attorney General for the Dominican Republic, however, has not been so reticent, and has announced his plans to investigate and prosecute Wesolowski in spite of the difficulties of criminally investigating a diplomatic figure.

Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski

Days after the nuncio’s removal from his post, investigative journalist Nuria Piera aired a televised documentary showing that Wesolowski visited the nation’s capital to engage in sexual activity with underage boys who were paid for their services. Piera, who has been commended with an American “Women of Courage” plaque for her past reportage, says the documentary’s allegations resulted from a year-long journalistic investigation.

In the documentary, Piera links Wesolowski to disgraced priest Alberto Gil Nojache, another Polish priest practicing in the Dominican Republic until his suspension in May 2013, at which time he is thought to have returned to Poland. At least fourteen allegations exist against Nojache, according to Piera. Dominican Monsignor Agripino Nuñez confirmed the links between the two prelates, adding that the pair have teamed up in the past to travel, along with a group of young boys, to a villa in the country’s Juan Dolio resort area.

Naturally, the cardinal’s office in Santo Domingo refuses to make a public statement on either suspect. However, the cardinal appears to have warm feelings towards Wesolowski, at least, calling him a “great friend and promoter of peace”. Just for fun, it’s worth noting that Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez is the same guy who stirred up controversy earlier this year for calling ambassadorial nominee James Brewster a “maricón” (faggot) during a press conference.

Some have argued that the decision to remove Wesolowski from office pending investigation confirms Pope Francis’ stated commitment to rooting out the priestly abuse problem in the Church. However, the hierarchy’s refusal to be open about the charges suggests otherwise to many seasoned Vatican-watchers. Barbara Dorris, outreach director at SNAP (Survivors’ Network for those Abused by Priests), put it this way:

Like all of his predecessors, Pope Francis is acting belatedly, secretively, and recklessly. Catholic officials act only when forced to do so by media pressure. When they do act, they act secretively — in this case, by not disclosing the allegations, the suspension, or the reason for the suspension.

It’s not exactly a well-kept secret: the Attorney General is talking about it, and there was a televised documentary. It doesn’t take a genius to guess why Wesolowski and Nojache have been pulled from their positions. In this case, the Vatican’s customary secrecy gains them nothing. It just keeps them looking deeply suspect and untrustworthy in the eyes of the world.

It’s hard to understand why they just don’t get that.

About Sara Lin Wilde

Sara Lin Wilde is a recovering Catholic (and cat-holic, for that matter - all typographical errors are the responsibility of her feline friends). She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she is working on writing a novel that she really, really hopes can actually get published.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Why do we continue to allow the RCC to investigate itself? Is there any other organization in the world that could be accused of awful crimes against humanity and then be allowed to hold it’s own investigation independent of public authorities?

  • Matt Eggler

    I have investigated the allegations that I ate the last piece of cake last night while everyone was asleep and have found myself innocent. Everybody satisfied?

  • Holytape

    Never trust old men in funny hats.

  • Amor DeCosmos

    The RCC is directly governed by God, through the Magisterium, so RCC members don’t have to follow secular laws of their communities, but just the what the Magisterium says. The Magisterium is made of the Pope and Bishops and part of it is infallible. If the Pope is covering up pedophilia, money laundering, etc. in the RCC, then we have to understand that he is infallible and though he is breaking secular laws, it doesn’t matter because he is infallibly upholding God’s law…

    …or some other stupid RCC apologist bullshit like that…

  • Mick

    “Francisco Dominguez Brito, the Attorney General for the
    Dominican Republic, however, has not been so reticent, and has
    announced his plans to investigate and prosecute Wesolowski in spite of
    the difficulties of criminally investigating a diplomatic figure.”

    I don’t accept that for a moment. I’ll bet the Attorney General is a Roman Catholic and he dragged his feet until he was sure the Archbishop was safe and secure in Rome.

    [I just checked: he is a Roman Catholic.]

  • The Other Weirdo

    M: “When he said they had people everywhere, it’s not meant to be literal.” Or words to that effect.

    So, you’re going with the full-on conspiracy theory then?

  • Gunner Miller

    I have a firm belief that you did the investigation in good faith. So much so that I will transfer you to the kitchen to keep an eye on all the other fresh young cakes that are there.

  • Artor

    Local police departments in the US work that way, and the State Department too it seems. “We didn’t do anything wrong, our internal audit (that you can’t see any details of) proves it!”

  • A3Kr0n

    I know people who are intelligent, outstanding citizens in almost every respect, yet every Sunday morning they pack up their family, and head to one of the local Catholic churches. That baffles the hell out of me. No matter how awesome you might be in every other respect, and I’ll acknowledge you for that, if you go to a Catholic church I can’t respect you.

  • ShoeUnited

    Technically? Because the Pope is both the religious leader, and the King of The Vatican. It is a country. Why it’s put up with is up to a religious person to answer, but why it is allowed to happen (like in this case with ambassadors) is because of some level of diplomatic immunity. The Vatican is a country legally, afterall.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Even if the crimes themselves aren’t happening in the Vatican?

  • gsiamne

    I totally agree. I have a brother who is catholic and does crime work. I have talked to him a few times only giving a small talk on some things yet he does that and also follows the “law” versus what some law people and big businesses people have done.

  • gsiamne

    The only thing I would add is funny clothing and also the automobile used by the Pope.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    Diplomatic immunity can be claimed for ambassadors (papal nuncio) and certain staff of embassies. I’m sure it wouldn’t normally apply to any old priest at the bottom of the hierarchy, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t use it if it became necessary.

  • Robster

    The red booties are good for a giggle too. So are the jesus crackers and pitcher of baby jesus “blood” offered for human consumption each ‘n every fun filled Sunday. Hang on, that’s not funny at all, it’s just silly.

  • DCM

    There is something very SPOOKEY when you consider 300 and something grown and aging men, wearing ruby slippers, clicking their heels while murmuring “There´s no place like ROME, There´s no place like Rome”..