ROME — A Vatican prosecutor has ordered a defrocked Polish archbishop to stand trial for allegedly paying for sex with children while serving as a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic.

A Vatican spokesman said Wednesday that ex-Archbishop Józef Wesolowski has been charged with two counts — sexual abuse of minors and possession of child pornography — and will stand trial July 11.

It will be the first criminal trial of a sexual abuse case conducted by the Vatican. The Vatican’s criminal courts have jurisdiction over Wesolowski because he is a papal diplomat and citizen of the Vatican City State.

The case has been highly sensitive, given that Wesolowski was an ambassador of the Holy See — a direct representative of the pope and not just one of the world’s 440,000 priests — and had been ordained both a priest and a bishop by St. John Paul II.

If found guilty, Wesolowski could face six to seven years in prison. That sentence could be served in a Vatican facility, although in the past, for lengthy sentences the Vatican has usually transfered the convicted party to an Italian prison.

That was the case, for instance, with Mehmet Ali Ağca, who attempted to assassinate St. John Paul II in 1981 and served 19 years in an Italian prison.

Wesolowski is also the subject of independent investigations in Poland and the Dominican Republic. If either country makes the request, he could be extradited after the trial, the Vatican said.

Briefing reporters, spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said the trial could last until early 2016, because of the summer break in August, the synod of bishops in October, and Christmas break.

The Holy See recalled Wesolowski in 2013 after rumors surfaced in Santo Domingo that he allegedly paid shoeshine boys to masturbate. In 2014, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith defrocked him — expelled him from the priesthood. He has been under modified house arrest inside Vatican City pending a decision by the Vatican criminal court on whether to indict him.

According to a Vatican statement Monday, the former prelate is accused of a number of offenses committed both during his stay in Rome from August 2013 until his arrest on Sept. 22, 2014, and in the period he spent in the Dominican Republic from 2008-2013.

Prosecutors say that while living in Rome after resigning his diplomatic post, Wesolowski was discovered in possession of child pornography, a charge for which he will be tried under the Vatican’s Law VIII of 2013, introduced by Pope Francis, which explicitly made possessing such images a crime.

According to the Vatican, the allegations of sexual abuse of minors committed while in the Dominican Republic are based on information provided to Rome by the country’s legal authorities.

Lombardi said the allegations will be scrutinized by the Vatican judicial body, and will include technical appraisals of the IT systems used by the defendant and, if necessary, international legal cooperation from authorities in Santo Domingo.

On previous occasions, the Vatican has stated that since Wesolowski committed his crimes while he was a diplomatic representative of the Holy See holding a Vatican passport, he should be tried first by the Vatican’s criminal court.

Officials insist, however, that will not shield Wesolowski from eventual criminal prosecution either in the Dominican Republic or in Poland.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.