Vatican recalls diplomatic official after State Dept demand on child-porn probe

Vatican recalls diplomatic official after State Dept demand on child-porn probe

Vatican recalls diplomatic official after State Dept demand on child-porn probe

A member of the Vatican diplomatic corps serving in Washington has been recalled to the Vatican where he is involved in a criminal investigation involving child pornography, the Vatican said.

According to that new law, promulgated by Pope Francis, possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

The Holy See is party to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunity, which grants immunity from prosecution to diplomats in foreign countries.

The Vatican declined to identify the diplomat, but said he was back in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe.

It added that having received such information from the United States government, the Secretariat of State passed this information to the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican Tribunal - the Vatican's chief prosecutor.

The Vatican said recalling the priest aligned with the diplomatic practice of sovereign states.

The State Department said that it had requested the Roman Catholic authority lift the official's diplomatic immunity on August 21, but the request was denied.

A US official familiar with the case told the Associated Press that the priest in question was a senior member of the Vatican embassy staff.

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The Vatican also stressed that in accordance with laws "applicable to all preliminary inquiries, the investigations carried out by the Promoter of Justice are subject to investigative confidentiality". The Vatican yearbook lists three counselors who work under the nuncio, or ambassador.

The Vatican recalled the Wesołowski in August 2013 he was accused of sexually abusing teenage boys.

The priest will likely face a canonical proceeding, overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a criminal trial overseen by the courts of the Vatican City State.

When Wesolowski was defrocked, he lost his diplomatic immunity, enabling him to be tried by other courts. However, it refused to provide Dominican authorities with information about his whereabouts or how he had pleaded to the charges.

The Vatican doesn't have extradition treaties.

He was the first high-ranking Catholic official to stand trial in the Vatican on such sex charges and the case was closely watched by victims of priestly abuse, who have accused the Vatican of repeatedly hushing up previous scandals.

He faced up to seven years in jail if convicted.

DiNardo said that while the bishops don't have all the facts, "we reaffirm that when such allegations occur, an immediate, thorough, and transparent investigation should begin in cooperation with law enforcement and immediate steps be taken to protect children". But the commission has floundered after losing the two members who themselves were survivors of abuse.

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