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Vatican places former nuncio under house arrest

Former archbishop Jozef Wesołowski (CNS)

The Vatican has placed a laicised papal ambassador under house arrest as he awaits a criminal trial for sexually abusing young boys.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi released a statement yesterday regarding the case of former archbishop Józef Wesołowski, a Pole who served as nuncio to the Dominican Republic until August 2013.

The Vatican announced in June that a canonical court had investigated Wesołowski on charges of sex abuse in the Dominican Republic and concluded by dismissing him from the clerical state, depriving him of all rights and duties associated with being a priest except the obligation of celibacy. Wesołowski would face a criminal trial under the laws of Vatican City State, the Vatican said at the time.

Yesterday, Fr Lombardi said, a Vatican prosecutor summoned Wesołowski and informed him of the charges against him.

Because of the “gravity of the accusations,” investigators decided to arrest the former ambassador, the spokesman said, but “in light of the medical condition of the accused, supported by medical documentation”, he was placed under house arrest in Vatican City.

Fr Lombardi said Vatican authorities had acted in accordance with the “will expressed by the Pope, that such a grave and delicate case might be addressed without delay, with the just and necessary rigour, with the full assumption of responsibility by the institutions of the Holy See”.

In August, the Vatican denied covering up for Wesołowski by bringing him back to Rome last year and suggested he might also have to stand trial on the charges in the Dominican Republic.