Vatican diplomat in United States recalled due to child-porn investigation

A priest working in the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C. has been recalled to the Vatican after US authorities cited possible violations of child pornography laws, the Vatican said Friday.

A priest attached to the Holy See’s embassy in Washington has been recalled to Rome after the U.S. government warned the diplomat may have broken child pornography laws, the Vatican said on Friday.

In declining to identify him, the Vatican said the case was subject to confidentiality while still under investigation. U.S. prosecutors said they wanted the Vatican to voluntarily lift the official’s diplomatic immunity so that he could face charges, according to several reports, but the Vatican refused.

The Vatican did not name the priest.

It added that for the State Department to make such a request, its lawyers would have needed to convinced there was a reasonable cause for criminal prosecution.

The priest in question, the statement says, has been recalled to Vatican City, in accordance with common diplomatic practice.

A Vatican diplomat based in Washington has been accused of violating child pornography laws and has been recalled to Rome. The Washington embassy, known as a nunciature, is an important diplomatic mission for the Vatican since it is tasked with representing Pope Francis to President Donald Trump’s administration. In 2013 it recalled the Vatican’s then ambassador to the Dominican Republic following allegations that he sexually abused minors. Two year’s later, while being held under house arrest in Vatican City, he was indicted for possession of child pornography.

The priest, Jozef Wesolowski, was defrocked by a Vatican tribunal.

Wesolowski was defrocked by the church court.

The US state department notified the Holy See last month of a possible violation of laws.

Dominican prosecutors initially balked at the recall, and they never filed charges because of his immunity. The diplomat would be the second from the Vatican’s diplomatic corps to face possible criminal charges for such crimes during Francis’ papacy.

In a September 15 statement, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the matter is “a serious issue”, and voiced hope that the Holy See would be “forthcoming” with further details. But the Vatican refused to provide Dominican authorities with information about his whereabouts.

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