July 1, 2014

VATICAN CITY: Former Top Vatican Ambassador To The Dominican Republic Has Been Convicted By A Church Tribunal Of Sex Abuse And Has Been Defrocked

KVOA4, Tucson
Former Top Vatican Ambassador Found Guilty Of Sex Abuse
written by AP staff
Friday June 27, 2014

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic has been convicted by a church tribunal of sex abuse and has been defrocked, the first such sentence handed down against a top papal representative.

The Vatican said Friday that Monsignor Jozef Wesolowski was found guilty by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and sentenced to the harshest penalty possible against a cleric: laicization, meaning he can no longer perform priestly duties or present himself as a priest.

Wesolowski can appeal. He also faces other charges by the criminal tribunal of Vatican City, since as a papal diplomat he is considered a citizen of the tiny city state.


The Wall Street Journal
written by Liam Moloney
Friday June 27, 2014

ROME — The Vatican has ordered the defrocking—the maximum penalty for a member of the clergy—of its highest-level official in recent times for the alleged sexual abuse of minors, as the Catholic Church is determined to show its no-tolerance policy toward clerical abusers.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, ordered in recent days that Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Holy See's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, be laicized following a canonical trial, said the Holy See in a statement.

The ruling means that he is forbidden from exercising his priesthood activities.

"He has been found guilty of being a pedophile," said Rev. Ciro Benedettini, deputy head of the Holy See press office.

Archbishop Wesolowski, 65 years old, has two months to appeal the guilty finding, said the Vatican. Should the appeal confirm the defrocking, he can ultimately turn to Pope Francis to seek a reversal of the decision.

It wasn't possible to contact Archbishop Wesolowski or his representative. The Holy See press office didn't have a contact detail.

The Vatican hasn't said how the archbishop responded in the church trial.

The Holy See also said the Vatican's criminal proceedings against him, as a citizen of the Vatican City State, will resume after the end of the appeals' process.

It added that taking into account the decision by the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy See would take "adequate measures" against Archbishop Wesolowski's movements.

"It is likely that his [Wesolowski's] movements will be restricted, but I don't know if that has already taken place," said Rev. Benedettini.

In recent years the church has been shaken by clerical sexual abuses across the globe that have driven many away from the Catholic faith. Pope Francis has asked forgiveness for these sexual abuses, promising to strengthen sanctions to help deter future cases.

Pope Francis set up a pontifical commission to assist him in introducing measures to protect minors from sexual abuses. Among the members of this commission he appointed is an Irishwoman who says she was abused as a minor by a priest.

For the first time, the Holy See provided in May a clear breakdown of defrocking as a result of sexual abuses against minors. The Holy See said it laicized a total of 848 priests between 2004 and 2013 for sexual abuses, while 2,572 received other punishments, such as accepting a life of penance and prayers or a ban on public ministries.

The Holy See removed Archbishop Wesolowski last August as its ambassador, or apostolic nuncio, to the Dominican Republic, without giving an explanation. He had been appointed to the Caribbean country in 2008. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See representative to the United Nations, earlier this year told a U.N. panel against torture that it was investigating Archbishop Wesolowski for possible sexual abuse of minors in the Dominican Republic.

According to Catholic Hierarchy, a website that specializes in tracking the movements of senior clerics, Archbishop Wesolowski was ordained a priest in the Polish city of Krakow in 1972 by his fellow countryman who later became pope and is now St. John Paul II.

"If this Vatican move leads to Wesolowski being locked up, we'll be encouraged," said David Clohessy, the U.S. director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, in a statement. "However, we fear that it won't."

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