Archive for Vatican
A former Vatican ambassador has been placed under house arrest and will face a criminal trial on child sex charges, the Holy See said. The action against Józef Wesołowski, 66, is the first time that the Vatican has charged a high-ranking official with paedophilia. If found guilty he could face up to 12 years in prison. The Polish-born cleric was recalled from the Dominican Republic in August 2013 after the archbishop of Santo Domingo told Pope Francis about rumours that Wesołowski had sexually abused teenage boys in the Caribbean country. Prosecutors there say he allegedly paid boys as young as 13 to masturbate. In June a Vatican tribunal found Wesołowski guilty of abuse and imposed its toughest penalty under church law: laicisation, or returning to life as a layman. Being defrocked meant that he lost his diplomatic immunity and the Dominican Republic has opened an investigation into accusations that he paid boys to perform sexual acts. The Vatican had been criticised for protecting Wesołowski from legal action by the Dominican authorities by recalling him last year. Wesołowski is the most prominent church figure to be arrested since Paolo Gabriele, a former papal butler convicted in 2012 of stealing and leaking private papers of the former pope Benedict XVI. The Pole was granted house arrest in a Vatican apartment on medical grounds rather than being detained in its prison – a small number of rooms attached to a courthouse. It is unclear whether Wesołowski would be jailed inside the Vatican, or in an Italian prison, if convicted.
The Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who has been accused of paying underage boys there to engage in sexual acts, has lost his diplomatic immunity and could ultimately face prosecution in criminal courts outside of the Vatican, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church announced. The former ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, has already been defrocked by the Vatican, the harshest penalty under the church’s canon law short of excommunication. Beyond that, the Vatican has also said that it intends to try Mr. Wesolowski on criminal charges — the first time it will hold a criminal trial for sexual abuse.
The Vatican has defrocked its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, an archbishop from Poland who was accused of sexually abusing boys while he served as the pope’s representative in the Caribbean nation. The former archbishop, Jozef Wesolowski, 65, is the first papal nuncio known to have been removed from the priesthood because of accusations of child sexual abuse. The Vatican announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles abuse cases, had recently completed his canonical trial. He has two months to appeal the decision. He still faces a criminal trial by the Vatican because, as a diplomat, he is a citizen of the Vatican city-state. It would be the first such trial held under new rules for criminal procedures implemented by the Vatican last year and a test of Pope Francis’ resolve to turn a page on the long-running sexual abuse scandal.
A University of Dayton investigation in 2013 found “reasonable cause” to believe that former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Diaz sexually harassed a married couple while a professor there. The academic news website Inside Higher Ed first reported the allegations against Diaz. It published two confidential letters from the University of Dayton’s provost and its general counsel to the two alleged victims, who are professors at the Ohio university. A July 22, 2013 letter from university provost Joseph Saliba acknowledged the claims of the married couple as “concerns that Dr. Diaz was sexually harassing you through various requests and references to explicitly sexual feelings.” The letter said there was reasonable cause to believe that he engaged in “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, particularly after being told to stop.” Diaz served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the Vatican from 2009-2012. Since then, he has served as a professor of faith and culture at the university. Diaz declined to comment to Inside Higher Ed through his attorney Gabriel Fuentes.
Ireland’s new ambassador to the Holy See is Emma Madigan, who had been an assistant chief of protocol at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Her nomination was approved by the cabinet at its meeting today. She succeeds Noel Fahey who retired from the position in summer 2011. On November 3rd 2011 Tánaiste and Minster for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore announced “with the greatest regret and reluctance” that the Government had decided to close Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See. “While the Embassy to the Holy See is one of Ireland’s oldest missions, it yields no economic return,” he said, adding, “the Government believes that Ireland’s interests with the Holy See can be sufficiently represented by a non-resident Ambassador.” Since then Ireland has been represented at the Vatican on a caretaker basis by secretary general at the Department of Foreign Affairs David Cooney. Last January Mr Gilmore announced that the Embassy to the Holy See was to reopen as part of an expansion of Ireland’s diplomatic network which will also see embassies opening in Thailand, Indonesia, Croatia, and Kenya. The new embassy will not be housed at its old site of the State-owned Villa Spada which, in the meantime, has become the Irish Embassy to the Italian state. It was stated that this was not because of any Vatican veto on a dual purpose embassy but rather because there is no space available at Villa Spada. Foreign Affairs has also said the new Embassy will be a “modest”, one-person operation, in keeping with the desire of Pope Francis of “a poor church for the poor,” and will re-open this summer.
Testifying before a House subcommittee, the apostolic nuncio to the United Nations lamented the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and urged the United States and other leading nations to work to defend them. “Flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians rages in the Middle East even as we meet,” said Archbishop Francis Chullikatt. “No Christian is exempt, whether or not he or she is Arab. Arab Christians, a small but significant community, find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith.” “Noble efforts” to defend religious freedom at the United Nations, he continued, “fail to receive the profile they justly deserve on the world stage. Only member states, especially those with leadership profiles like the United States, can take decisive steps to ensure that the non-derogable human right of religious liberty becomes more robustly protected worldwide.” Archbishop Chullikatt also noted that religious freedom is under attack in historically Christian nations. Even in some of the western democracies, the longstanding paragons of human rights and freedoms, we find instances of increasingly less subtle signs of persecution, including the legal prohibition of the display of Christian symbols and imagery – legitimate expressions of belief that for centuries has enriched culture – be they on the person or on public property. This suggests a profound identity crisis at the heart of these great democracies, which owe to their encounter with Christianity both their origin and culture, including their human rights culture.
Germany’s former education minister is reportedly set to become the country’s ambassador to the Vatican. She stepped down a year ago amid claims she plagiarized her PhD thesis. Annette Schavan will likely moving to the Vatican, in Rome, the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily newspaper revealed on Sunday. The former minister is a practising Catholic and used to be head of the Central Council of German Catholics. The new post means she will represent the German government abroad, despite the University of Düsseldorf stripping her of her degree, leaving the education specialist with only high school leaving certificate. Neither Schavan nor the Bundestag have commented on the reports, but Germany’s current ambassador to Rome is due to retire.