Will Child-Abusing Former Nuncio Receive Secular Justice in the Vatican? Dominicans Aren’t Holding Their Breath

Since we last wrote about Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski (below), almost a year ago, he’s been through some changes. You may remember that Wesolowski, the papal nuncio (ambassador) to the Dominican Republic, was recalled to Rome after allegations surfaced that he’d been sexually abusing Dominican boys for years.

True to its word, the Catholic Church began an investigation into the archbishop’s sordid past. Two months ago, that probe reached its conclusion:

[O]n June 27, he was defrocked by the Vatican, reducing him to the status of a layman.

But Wesolowski’s troubles are far from over.

The Vatican, which as a city-state has its own judicial system, has also said it intends to try Mr. Wesolowski on criminal charges — the first time the Vatican has held a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

Interesting. But that doesn’t mean the Catholic Church can now wash its hands of the affair. After all,

[F]ar from settling the matter, the Vatican has stirred an outcry because it helped Mr. Wesolowski avoid criminal prosecution and a possible jail sentence in the Dominican Republic. Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome last year before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic.

The New York Times opines that

When it comes to removing pedophiles from the priesthood, the Vatican is moving more assertively and swiftly than before. But as Mr. Wesolowski’s case suggests, the church continues to be reluctant to report people suspected of abuse to the local authorities and allow them to face justice in secular courts.

The Times piece suggests that father Jozef’s morality was even more corrupted than that of most pedophiles. What to make of something as craven as this: one of Wesolowski frequent victims was a 17-year-old boy whom the nuncio wanted to “help”:

The 17-year-old had epilepsy, and the nuncio gave him medicine for his condition in exchange for sexual acts, starting from when the boy was 13, the district attorney said.

It takes a special person to accept the money that Jesus-glorifying Catholics around the world contribute for the spread of ostensible good and then withhold it from a sick teenager who can’t afford his medication — unless he agrees to be sexually assaulted.

“This is the most terrible case that I have ever seen,” said Ms. Reynoso [the district attorney of Santo Domingo]. “He was abusing kids who were living in extreme poverty, in exchange for pills for a boy’s illness. It’s very perverse.”

How badly the Vatican — the city-state — wants to put Wesolowki on a successful criminal trial remains to be seen:

The Vatican sent someone to the Dominican Republic last October to look into the case, but they made no contact with the district attorney or anyone in her office, Ms. Reynoso said.

While Wesolowski may never see the inside of a Dominican courtroom, some local comeuppance is assured.

The people used to say, ‘I want my child to go to a Catholic church,'” said the Rev. Rogelio Cruz, a Catholic priest here. “Now they say, ‘No child of mine is ever going to a Catholic church.'”

 

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