Official at Vatican embassy to United States removed over child porn allegations

Official at Vatican embassy to United States removed over child porn allegations

Official at Vatican embassy to United States removed over child porn allegations

Apostolic Nunciature to the United States in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

The Vatican has confirmed that a priest serving at the Holy See embassy to the United States has been recalled to Rome after receiving information he had violated child pornography laws. The priest is now being investigated by the Vatican's Promoter of Justice.

A Vatican diplomat based in Washington has been accused of violating child pornography laws and has been recalled to Rome.

The priest, who has not been identified, is currently in the territory of the Vatican City State, and Vatican prosecutors have opened an investigation.

A statement from the Vatican press office said the U.S. State Department notified the Vatican’s Secretariat of State of the allegations on August 21.

The Associated Press reports the State Department confirmed that it had asked the Vatican to lift the official’s diplomatic immunity, but the request was denied.

The Vatican statement said the Holy See was “following the practice of sovereign states” when it recalled the priest in question.

“Having received such information from the United States government, the Secretariat of State transmitted this information to the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican Tribunal,” the statement said. “The Promoter of Justice opened an investigation and has already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case.”

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The Vatican also noted that according to the laws governing all preliminary inquiries, the investigation is confidential.

In 2013, Pope Francis signed new legislation covering the sexual abuse of children in Vatican City, which applies to those working at the Vatican’s diplomatic posts.

Sexual violence and sexual acts with children, child prostitution and possession of child pornography are all specifically cited in the law, and if convicted, the priest could face up to 12 years in prison.

The most high-profile Vatican diplomat to be charged was Polish Archbishop Józef Wesołowski, the former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic.

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

Wesołowski first faced an internal ecclesiastical probe, which led to his being laicized, or removed from the priesthood, in June 2014.

RELATED: Vatican trial for Józef Wesołowski a pivotal moment for Pope Francis

In 2015, Wesołowski was indicted for possession of child pornography, but died before the criminal trial could begin.

The pope has frequently said there is a “zero tolerance” policy for priests who have abused children, and in December wrote a letter to the world’s bishops saying the Church would take “all necessary measures” to protect young people.

However, these efforts suffered a blow on March 1 when Marie Collins, the only abuse survivor on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, resigned after claiming the group’s work is being “hindered and blocked by members of the Curia.”

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