Vatican City, Sep 23, 2014 / 16:45 pm
The Holy See press officer announced Tuesday that Jozef Wesolowski, the former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic who was laicized earlier this year, has been put under house arrest amid an official investigation into charges of pedophilia.
He is accused of having paid for sex with minors while nuncio to the Dominican Republic.
"The seriousness of the allegations has prompted the official investigation to impose a restrictive measure that … consists of house arrest, with its related limitations, in a location within the Vatican City State," Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., said Sept. 23.
"The initiative taken by the judicial departments of Vatican City State is a result of the express desire of the Pope, so that a case so serious and delicate would be addressed without delay, with just and necessary rigor, and with full assumption of responsibility on the part of the institutions that are governed by the Holy See."
Wesolowski, 66, has been placed under house arrest, rather than being jailed in Vatican City's prison, due to his health condition.
His house arrest is linked to the opening of a criminal trial being held against him in Vatican City. He was summoned by a Vatican prosecutor and informed of the criminal charges he faces.
In June, 2014, Vatican officials ruled that Wesolowski was guilty of accusations that arose in late 2013 that the former nuncio had engaged in sexual misconduct, which had previously led him to resign from the position of nuncio to the Dominican Republic on Aug. 21, 2013. After the printing of the original accusations, a 13-year-old boy came forward with further allegations that Wesolowski had solicited him for sexual favors in exchange for money.
The nuncio was then taken into protective custody by Dominican Republic officials.
After the guilty verdict, the Vatican ruled that Wesolowski would be laicized, a serious canonical penalty that renders one unable to celebrate the sacraments.
Though there is no extradition treaty between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic, Vatican officials had expressed their willingness to hand over Wesolowski to civil authorities in the Dominican Republic.
In August 2014, Fr. Lombardi clarified that as the nuncio had been removed from his post, he no longer has diplomatic immunity.
Fr. Lombardi said last month that the Vatican "from the very first moments that this case was made known to them, moved without delay and correctly in light of the fact that former nuncio Wesolowski held the position of a diplomatic representative of the Holy See," particularly in recalling the former nuncio to Rome for canonical trial.
He added that the recall of Wesolowski to the Vatican for trial and the consideration "demonstrates the full and direct undertaking of the Holy See's responsibility even in such a serious and delicate case," saying that the case is one that Pope Francis "wishes to address justly and rigorously."