This article from the New York Times, if accurate, is horribly damaging to the Church, and, once again when dealing with sexual abuse by priests, poses the question, what, in God’s name, truly, is the Vatican thinking?
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — He was a familiar figure to the skinny shoeshine boys who work along the oceanfront promenade here. Wearing black track pants and a baseball cap pulled low over his balding head, they say, he would stroll along in the late afternoon and bring one of them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero.
The boys say he gave them money to perform sexual acts. They called him “the Italian” because he spoke Spanish with an Italian accent.
It was only after he was spirited out of the country, the boys say, his picture splashed all over the local news media, that they learned his real identity: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
“He definitely seduced me with money,” said Francis Aquino Aneury, who says he was 14 when the man he met shining shoes began offering him increasingly larger sums for sexual acts. “I felt very bad. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I needed the money.”
The case is the first time that a top Vatican ambassador, or nuncio — who serves as a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors. It has sent shock waves through the Vatican and two predominantly Catholic countries that have only begun to grapple with clergy sexual abuse: the Dominican Republic and Poland, where Mr. Wesolowski was ordained by the Polish prelate who later became Pope John Paul II.
It has also created a test for Pope Francis, who has called child sexual abuse “such an ugly crime” and pledged to move the Roman Catholic Church into an era of “zero tolerance.” For priests and bishops who have violated children, he told reporters in May, “There are no privileges.”
Mr. Wesolowski has already faced the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law, short of excommunication: on June 27, he was defrocked by the Vatican, reducing him to the status of a layman. 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.
But far 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.
Retrieved August 24, 2014 from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/world/americas/whisked-away-vatican-ambassador-accused-of-sexual-abuse-of-minors.html
SNAP comments on this issue.
Our hearts ache for the Dominican boys who were manipulated and assaulted by a Polish archbishop who is being protected from prosecution by Vatican officials.
Shame on Pope Francis and every single Catholic official – in Rome and the Dominican Republic – who is helping Archbishop Josef Wesolowski evade secular authorities. Wesolowski is accused of sexually violating a boy in exchange for epilepsy medicine, for heaven’s sake. Yet the highest-ranking Catholic officials won’t turn the archbishop over to the police in Poland, Italy or the Dominican Republic.
What self-serving hubris it is to insist that no police or prosecutors anywhere can touch a Catholic child molester.
Vatican officials also refuse to disclose the archbishop’s whereabouts. So he could now be traveling the Italian countryside, looking for poor boys and using cash to sexually abuse and exploit them today.
This time, the excuse is “He’s a diplomat.” Catholic officials have dozens of other excuses they trot out when they’re caught hiding a criminal: “He’s very old now,” “He molested when he was a seminarian, not a priest,” “His crimes happened years ago, so law enforcement couldn’t pursue him anyway,” “His whereabouts are unknown,” or “He’s in a wheelchair now and can’t hurt anyone else.” They always have some excuse for why they refuse to do their simple moral and civic duty: telling secular authorities about a clerical criminal.
Retrieved August 25, 2014 from http://www.snapnetwork.org/rome