Sex abuse is another front. An exception came with an Aug. 24 piece in The New York Times about former Polish Archbishop Joseph Wesolowski, a onetime papal envoy in the Dominican Republic accused of molesting minors. He was recalled in late 2013 and laicized, meaning kicked out of the priesthood, in June.
The Times asked whether bringing the former prelate to Rome was a way of evading civil prosecution, forcing the Vatican to clarify that because he’s been stripped of diplomatic status, he could stand trial in the Dominican Republic or any other jurisdiction that wants a shot at him.
Wesolowski, however, was not the only question mark.
The pope set up an anti-abuse commission last December to great fanfare, yet aside from organizing a meeting for the pontiff with abuse victims in June, it hasn’t done very much. At this stage, it’s not clear where it’s physically going to be housed, or whose jurisdiction it falls under.
Word in Rome is that an announcement about the commission might be coming this week. Still, it’s fair to ask why, if fighting child abuse is a priority, it’s taken this long for the pope’s chosen reform vehicle to get going.
Another shoe waiting to drop is accountability for bishops – not in cases such as Wesolowski’s, where the bishop himself is accused of abuse, but when bishops fail to apply the Church’s “zero tolerance” policy to other clergy under their supervision.
Francis acted with vigor when the infamous “bling bishop” in Limburg, Germany, was accused of over-spending. Why hasn’t he shown the same zeal in disciplining bishops who drop the ball on abuse charges?