VATICAN CITY (RNS) Poland’s ambassador to the Holy See has forcefully condemned the alleged sexual abuse of children by a Polish-born former archbishop and Vatican diplomat, and said Warsaw is considering a fresh request to extradite Jozef Wesolowski to face trial in his homeland.

Piotr Nowina-Konopka, Polish academic and politician.

Ambassador Piotr Nowina-Konopka said Wednesday (Aug. 27) the Polish government was reviewing its options after the Vatican announced this week that the former papal envoy to the Dominican Republic had been defrocked and no longer had diplomatic immunity. Photo courtesy of Sandstein (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ambassador Piotr Nowina-Konopka said Wednesday (Aug. 27) the Polish government was reviewing its options after the Vatican announced this week that the former papal envoy to the Dominican Republic had been defrocked and no longer had diplomatic immunity.

“We are currently analyzing the situation regarding immunity,” the ambassador told Religion News Service in remarks that were unusually frank for a diplomat, and especially one from a country that is as strongly Catholic as Poland.

“Without doubt Poland considers the acts that the archbishop is alleged to have carried out as particularly repugnant and Pope Francis’ firm approach to that type of crime has won great respect and full support in Poland,” Nowina-Konopka said.

Wesolowski, the 66-year-old former papal envoy to the Dominican Republic, was quietly recalled from Santo Domingo last August after rumors emerged that he had sexually molested young boys there. But he is also wanted on sex abuse charges in Poland, though details of the charges were not known.

Polish authorities unsuccessfully sought to extradite the former archbishop last year; Nowina-Konopka said the request was rejected by the Vatican.

He said a fresh request could not be made until Wesolowski was processed under canon law.

The Polish-born Wesolowski was a highly respected ambassador for the Holy See and had been ordained both as a priest and a bishop by the late Polish pope, St. John Paul II, when he was archbishop in Krakow.

In June, Wesolowski was defrocked after a Vatican tribunal found him guilty of abusing young boys following an investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex-abuse cases. He recently appealed that sentence, and a final decision is expected in October.

After a front-page story in The New York Times on Sunday detailed how Wesolowski allegedly targeted boys for sex, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that Wesolowski had also lost his diplomatic immunity and could face charges in other countries once the Vatican case runs its course.

On Wednesday, Lombardi declined to comment on the case or provide the former archbishop’s current whereabouts.

Once the Vatican’s legal process is complete, Wesolowski may first face extradition to the Dominican Republic. The Italian news agency ANSA on Wednesday cited Dominican reports saying investigators would hear from alleged victims at a new inquiry scheduled for Sept. 2.

Pope Francis has faced criticism from victims advocates and others for bringing Wesolowski back to Rome to face charges there rather than waiving diplomatic immunity and letting him go to trial in the Dominican Republic.

The critics say that Wesolowski — who has been spotted by fellow bishops strolling around Rome’s historic district — has been treated with kid gloves and that belies the pope’s vow to crack down on abusers regardless of their rank.

But the Vatican and others defend Francis, saying that he has acted swiftly and used the proper legal process, one that will likely result in Wesolowski facing secular as well as church courts.

“Wesolowski has allegedly committed wrongs against his victims and against his priestly state that led to his laicization but he has also committed crimes against the law of the sovereign that issued his nationality as a diplomat,” the Rev. Robert John Araujo, a Jesuit priest and law professor at Loyola University in Chicago, wrote on the Catholic legal blog Mirror of Justice.

“All things being considered, it appears that the Holy See acted as expeditiously as any sovereign would be obliged to do,” he said.

DG/MG END MCKENNA

9 Comments

  1. It does not matter, simple. If he is extradited, then he is a sacrificial lamb offered by the papal to make it seem as if they don’t condone this behavior (which is laudable). If he is not extradited, then the Vatican is (again) displaying their influence over law (judicial, legislative, executive). There is nothing, absolutely nothing that you (private citizen, courts, etc.) can do to a member of the papal that they have not already allowed. So wise up, stop sending your sons, to men who are attempting to chain their “natural” & “unnatural” sexual desires, because it’s only going to lead to more of what has transpired. It’s not about religion, it’s about common sense…get some.

  2. It would be a very positive step for the Polish government to extradite Jozef Wesolowski for his sex crimes against children. And it is imperative that the Vatican officials stop protecting this serial child predator and let his whereabouts known. He needs to be jailed immediately so that no more children will be harmed.
    His brave victims are to be commended for their courage in speaking up and taking action about being sexually abused in the Dominican Republic.

    Child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever, so let’s hope that any others who may have knowledge or may also have been harmed by Wesolowski, will find the courage to speak up and contact local law enforcement no matter how long ago it happened. Your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.
    Judy Jones, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests , snapjudy@gmail.com

  3. Sure, let Poland extradite the former sexual abusing envoy to the Dominican Republic from the Vatican so he can be given more protection by the Polish bishops who believe they should be the only ones to handle such cases, not Polish civil authorities. That would be done very delicately, of course. The offender would be considered above all law, and the church bishops would let him go totally unpunished for his criminal behavior.

    Why is it taking the Vatican so long to act on this matter? He was recalled by the Vatican from the Dominican Republic, but since he was also defrocked by the Vatican, does the Vatican have authority over him any longer?

    Part to the trick of all the cover-up of the sex scandal is the bouncing back and forth of authority and responsibility over the culprits who participated in the sins and crimes. Add to that the false excuses of so-called respect between the enforcers of civil law and the defenders of canon law. No matter where sex abuse or its cover-up took place outside the Vatican state itself, civil law should trump canon law. Bishops who participated in the cover-up in any way should be considered as guilty of crime as the sex abusers themselves.

    Cardinal Dolan, now of New York, hid archdiocesan funds in cemetery endowments when he headed Milwaukee in order to make it impossible to pay legal fees and court-ordered fines for molesters. Look how Benedict boldly rewarded Dolan for being such a “good and faithful servant!”

    John Paul II gave the sexual predators and hiding bishops little more than lip service. Benedict, before his was pope, was given the final say over all such matters by John Paul and look how little was done about the world-wide scandal by him when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    • “Why is it taking the Vatican so long to act on this matter? He was recalled by the Vatican from the Dominican Republic, but since he was also defrocked by the Vatican, does the Vatican have authority over him any longer?”

      This is a powerful question, especially given what Cardinal Pell said recently regarding the worker for a trucking business molesting women. It seems a simple step, but this lets the Vatican off the hook when it comes to that “false, failed product” within their Doctrine. All they would need to do is defrock then let everyone else PAY for the crimes of THEIR paid personnel, advisors, teachers, priests, bishops, cardinals, pastors and popes TAUGHT within that Doctrine.

      If a public school teacher told one of his young students that he had the capability to remove all bad grades from the student’s records … IF he would, say … you know …

      the list goes on …

      THERE IS MORE HERE THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN!

      Peace and Love

  4. I cannot believe any rational human being would continue to support, attend or have ANY connections with a institution that clearly has known about and covered up sexual abuse of children for decades. This makes me physically ill just thinking about it and even more insane that millions of people would even consider continuing any kind of relationship with this evil fraudulent corrupt cesspool of snakes. ALL THE POPES and high ranking officials in this evil empire KNEW this was going on and did nothing but look the other way and cover it up. If I were a Catholic when this horrific story broke I sure would not be one today.

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