Ontario lawyer Robert Talach, above, has lashed out at the Vatican, alleging that it swiftly moved to protect a priest who is wanted by police in Canada where he faces child pornography charges.
According to this report, Monsignor Carlo Capella, a high-ranking Catholic diplomat, was hastily whisked from the US to the Vatican earlier this month after rumours began circulating that authorities were planning to charge him with possession of child pornography.
Ironically, Capella was slated to be part of an international conference in Rome next week focused on protecting children from online sexual exploitation and abuse.
This week Canada became involved when police issued an arrest warrant alleging Capella, 50, committed child pornography offences at an area church during the Christmas holidays.
He is wanted for accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.
The Diocese of London, Ontario, has confirmed it has assisted in:
An investigation around suspicions involving Msgr Capella’s possible violations of child pornography laws by using a computer address at a local church.
Talach said the role of the London Diocese should stretch beyond simply assisting.
It should be making demands of the Vatican to send this guy back to face the music.
Talach, whose specialties include cases involving sexual abuse by the clergy, said the fact Capella was whisked away by the church shouldn’t come as a shock.
I’m probably the least-surprised person in the world right now. There are lots of examples of hiding either offenders or people under investigation within the walls of the Vatican.
Talach cited Bernard Prince, a Canadian priest who was promoted to a top Vatican position despite sexual abuse allegations, as an example of the church’s efforts to protect itself from scandal.
Prince was living in the Vatican when accusations of abuse began to circulate, but he was eventually sent back to Canada, where he was convicted in 2008 of sexually abusing more than a dozen boys over a 20-year period.
He was defrocked by the Catholic Church in 2009.
Talach said of Prince:
He was able to live and work and take refuge within the Vatican for a number of years. The same luxury shouldn’t be available to Capella.
He’s wanted in a criminal matter involving children and he should be sent back for prosecution. Period.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, above – the Vatican Secretary of State and Capella’s boss – is set to deliver the keynote speech Tuesday on “The Holy See and its commitment to combating sex abuse online” – and Capella was apparently to be part of the conference, which was organised months ago.
Panelists are to include top law enforcement and academic experts in the field of child protection and cybercrimes, with an entire morning devoted to “Child Sexual Abuse Online: Who are the offenders?”
According to this report, Canadian police declined to say if they had passed the case to Interpol or if Canada would initiate extradition proceedings. But the Vatican doesn’t extradite its citizens.
In explaining its decision to recall the diplomat the Vatican said its own criminal prosecutors were now investigating the case and seeking information from the US.
A canon lawyer, Capella is listed online as having written a 2003 paper for the Pontifical Lateran University on priestly celibacy and the church’s criminal code.
The head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo, urged the Holy See to be “forthcoming with more details” about the case, a reflection of how the US church still struggles with credibility problems 15 years after the sex abuse scandal erupted in America.