Skip to main content

Ex-Vatican envoy to Dominican Republic guilty of child sex abuse, tribunal finds

By Hada Messia and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri June 27, 2014
Jozef Wesolowski is believed to be one of the highest-ranking Vatican officials to be dismissed from the clergy for sexual abuse.
Jozef Wesolowski is believed to be one of the highest-ranking Vatican officials to be dismissed from the clergy for sexual abuse.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Vatican tribunal finds Jozef Wesolowski guilty of sexual abuse of minors
  • He was accused of abuse while serving as Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic
  • He has been dismissed from the clergy but can appeal the sentence

Rome (CNN) -- A former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic has been found guilty of sexual abuse of minors by a Vatican tribunal and defrocked, the Vatican said in a statement Friday.

Jozef Wesolowski was accused of sexual abuse of minors while serving in the Caribbean nation, the statement said.

The Polish archbishop is believed to be one of the highest-ranking Vatican officials to be dismissed from the clergy for sexual abuse.

Wesolowski has the right to appeal against the tribunal's finding and sentence within two months.

Once the canonical process has been concluded, he will then be tried by Vatican judicial authorities, according to the Vatican statement.

Victim: Responsibility can't be dodged
U.N. denounces Vatican over child abuse

A report by the U.N. Committee Against Torture in May cited Wesolowski's case, noting that Poland had reportedly asked for the archbishop's extradition.

It urged the Holy See to "proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation of Archbishop Wesolowski" and anyone else accused of violating the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

If necessary, the Holy See "should ensure such persons are criminally prosecuted or extradited for prosecution by the civil authorities" of another state, it said. The U.N. panel asked to be informed of the outcome of the investigation into Wesolowski.

In a statement issued following the report, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, urged Polish bishops and Catholics to contact Pope Francis and "insist that he send Wesolowski back to face secular justice in Poland."

Francis last month spoke out against sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and said he would meet with victims.

A priest who abuses a child betrays the body of the Lord, the Pope told reporters, as he called for zero tolerance.

"This is very serious," he said. "It is like, by way of comparison, holding a black Mass. You are supposed to lead them to sanctity and instead you lead them to a problem that will last their entire lives."

Read: Pope Francis to meet with sexual abuse victims

Read: Pope Francis asks forgiveness for priests who sexually abused children

CNN's Hada Messia reported from Rome, and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 6:31 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park, said to be a pet project of secretive young leader Kim Jong Un.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex in France, agents caught up with Ibrahim Boudina, a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back Syrian-schooled terror to Europe.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT