Spokesman stresses eagerness to cooperate with investigators
Catholic News Agency
September 13, 2013
A Vatican spokesman has said that the Holy See is willing to hand over a former nuncio accused of sexual misconduct to civil authorities in the Dominican Republic if requested to do so.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said that the Holy See continues to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations into Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic.
Because there is no extradition treaty between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic, the Holy See is not required to return the nuncio to Dominican officials. In addition, the Vatican has a legal right to invoke diplomatic immunity in protection of the nuncio.
However, Fr. Lombardi told CNA on Sept. 12 that the Holy See has declared “our intention to cooperate with the Dominican authorities whenever they require it.”
The recall of the nuncio to the Vatican “by no means implies the desire to prevent him from assuming his responsibility for whatever may come out of the investigations” in the Dominican Republic,” Fr. Lombardi explained.
Accusations of sexual misconduct reported in the media led to the resignation of Archbishop Wesolowski on Aug. 21.
Fr. Lombardi explained that after Church authorities were informed of the “serious accusations” against Archbishop Wesolowski, the Vatican Secretary of State responded quickly, “calling back the Nuncio, stripping him of his duty and starting an investigation entrusted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
After the initial accusations were made public, a 13-year-old boy in the country said in a television interview that the nuncio had solicited him for sexual favors in exchange for money. The boy has been taken into protective custody by Dominican Republic officials.
Vatican denies it’s trying to shield pope’s personal envoy to Dominican Republic from sex abuse allegations
The National Post
13 September 2013 Last Updated: 13/09/13 1:22 AM ET
Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
The Vatican said Thursday it was co-operating with prosecutors in the Dominican Republic who are investigating its ambassador for alleged sexual abuse of teen-age boys, an explosive case that has raised legal questions about the Holy See’s responsibilities when accused priests come from within its own ranks.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, denied the Vatican was trying to shield Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski by recalling him to Rome before Dominican prosecutors had announced their investigation.
The Holy See recalled Wesolowski on Aug. 21 and relieved him of his job as apostolic nuncio after the archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, told Pope Francis about the allegations in July.
Dominican prosecutors announced their investigation last week, largely in response to local media reports of allegations of sexual misconduct by Wesolowski, 65, as well as a friend and fellow Polish priest, who is also outside the country.
Dominican prosecutor Bolivar Sanchez has said he has interviewed seven boys between 13 and 18 years old as part of the investigation. He said three of them work on the streets of the capital of Santo Domingo while the remaining four live elsewhere. Local news media have said some of the youths shine shoes. Sanchez has described some of the teens’ allegations as coherent.
Wesolowski is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be investigated for alleged sex abuse, and his case has raised questions about whether the Vatican, by removing Wesolowski from Dominican jurisdiction, had effectively placed its own church investigation ahead of that of authorities in the Caribbean nation.
In a statement Thursday, Lombardi said: “The recall of the ambassador is by no mean an effort to avoid taking responsibility for what might possibly be verified.”
He said the Vatican in early September had told the Dominican ambassador to the Holy See that it would co-operate with Dominican authorities with whatever they might need.
The Vatican’s own rules for conducting sex abuse investigations under church law calls for co-operation with civil authorities and reporting of abuse allegations to police where such laws require it. Those norms were crafted in the wake of the explosion of sex abuse cases in 2010, where thousands of people came forward in Europe, South America and elsewhere detailing abuse by priests who were never reported to police even though their bishops knew they were pedophiles.
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito has said if the government finds any concrete evidence against Wesolowski, it would seek his extradition. He noted, however, that the Dominican Republic has no extradition agreement with the Vatican.
As a Vatican ambassador, Wesolowski would enjoy diplomatic immunity, but it is unclear if the Vatican would invoke it in this case.
In addition to the jurisdiction issue, the Wesolowski case is important for other legal reasons: The Vatican has long managed to fend off civil lawsuits in the U.S. seeking to hold it liable for the conduct of abusive priests or negligent bishops who moved pedophiles around from parish to parish rather than report them to police. It has done so by successfully arguing that neither priests nor bishops are Vatican employees, and that the Holy See therefore cannot be held liable for their criminal conduct.
The case of Wesolowski is different since he is most certainly a Vatican employee, the pope’s own personal envoy to the Dominican Republic.
Pope Francis has instructed the Vatican to continue its tough line against sexually abusive priests, instructing the head of the Vatican office that handles abuse cases to act “decisively” to protect children, help victims and take the necessary measures to punish the guilty.
Francis in July also signed off on legislation criminalizing child sex abuse and other sexual crimes, with punishments ranging up to more than a decade in prison — laws that apply to Vatican employees as well as diplomatic staff. Those new laws, however, can’t be applied retroactively in this case, officials say.
Rather, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is handling the Wesolowski investigation under the Catholic Church’s canon law, which doesn’t provide for prison time for guilty verdicts but rather canonical sanctions, which can range from being removed from public ministry to being defrocked.
Wesolowski’s whereabouts are unknown and it’s unclear if he has retained a lawyer.
Parents in Dominican Republic accuse Vatican envoy of sex abuse
11 September 2013
Parents of several children in the Dominican Republic have accused the Vatican’s now-sacked envoy to the Caribbean nation of pedophilia, authorities said Tuesday.
“There are a number of parents who have filed reports” against Josef Wesolowski, deputy prosecutor Bolivar Sanchez told reporters.
Sanchez was tapped by Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito to lead the investigation into the case.
“So far, we have interviewed three (boys) here; in another location we interviewed four more boys,” said Sanchez.
“They are all from 13 to 18 years old and mainly from very poor neighborhoods,” he said.
“I can’t give many details at this stage of the investigation, but there are some very painful situations involved,” he added.
On August 21 Monsignor Wesolowski, the papal nuncio in Santo Domingo, was sacked without the Vatican sharing the news with the public.
Last week, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told the I.Media news agency on Vatican affairs that an investigation was underway in Rome into allegations of child sex abuse against Wesolowski.
The Dominican press said the diplomat had sex for money with underage boys in the “Zona colonial”, the historic centre of Santo Domingo.
Wesolowski, a 65-year-old Pole who has been the papal envoy in Santo Domingo for five years, was ordained in 1972 by the then Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II.
John Paul II appointed him nuncio to Bolivia, his first posting. Wesolowski also worked in several countries in Central Asia and was appointed to the Dominican Republic by Pope Benedict in 2008.
Dominicans Demand Punishment for Pedophile Priests
11 September 2013
Santo Domingo, Sep 11 (Prensa Latina) Dominican organizations are planning to ask for former papal nuncio Josef Wesolowski and two priests accused of alleged child rape to be brought to justice. The demand will occur at a central intersection in the capital, in front of the Papal Nunciature, said two of the organizations, Colectiva Mujer y Salud and La Multitud.
“We will demand that Dominican justice intervene so that these cases do not go unpunished and the victims can be compensated through criminal and civil actions against the defendants,” reads the call.
At least seven children between the ages of 13 and 18 were identified as victims of sexual abuse by Wesolowsk, said Deputy Attorney Bolivar Sanchez yesterday. Sanchez is in charge of the criminal investigation which began last week.
Bolivar explained that the victims had sexual relations with the Polish Wesolowski in exchange for money, and that their parents had also been interviewed.
So far, the whereabouts of the former Nuncio are unknown, according to the Public Ministry. Wesolowski was removed from office at the end of August, Bolivar said.
sc/sa/jsr/tgj/dsa Modificado el ( miércoles, 11 de septiembre de 2013 )
Court declares vanished Polish priest in contempt
11 September 2011
Santiago, Dominican Republic.- The Santiago Appellate Court’s Criminal Chamber declared Polish priest Wojciech Gil (Alberto) in contempt , at the request of the Office of the Prosecutor, on charges he sexually molested several minors in the village of Juncalito, Janico township (central).
The Justice Ministry’s Domestic Violence Unit filed the charges against Gil, 36, at the Children and Adolescents Court.
Although there’s no precise figure as to how many minors figure in the complaint, initial reports place the number at 14. The priest worked with 180 vulnerable children.
The authorities reportedly found videos and other unspecified “incriminating belongings” at Wojciech’s residence.
The prelate allegedly went on vacation amid the complaints, prompting the authorities to search his residence, where they found compromising items such as “tailless” panties and porno films, among other belongings. His whereabouts are unknown.
The case has also been linked to ousted Vatican envoy Josef Wesolowski, also from Poland, who faces similar charges stemming from alleged sexual abuse of minors in Santo Domingo and nearby beach towns.