Saturday 16 December 2017

Dominican nuncio is fired over sex abuse allegations

Ezequiel Abiu Lopez and Nicole Winfield Santo Domingo

Authorities in the Dominican Republic will look into allegations of child sex abuse against the papal envoy to the Caribbean country, following his abrupt removal from his post by the Vatican, the attorney general said.

Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito was careful to note that his office is aware only of rumours about the papal nuncio, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, and has not received any accusations.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, confirmed that Polish-born Dr Wesolowski had been removed from his post and that the church was conducting an investigation of him.

Mr Dominguez told reporters that he had designated a senior official to lead the investigation and co-ordinate with the Vatican.

"We will not allow anyone to use the Catholic Church or other religious institutions as a shield to commit illegal acts, especially against children," he said.

Dominican television network NCDN, citing a statement from the director of a community group, reported that Dr Wesolowski had slept in the same room as several altar boys at his beach house.

BOYS

Shortly before his removal, several residents of the mountain town of Juncalito made allegations of sexual abuse against the Rev Alberto Gil Wojciech, also Polish.

The community leader, Pedro Espinal, told reporters that Rev Wojciech took altar boys to the home of Dr Wesolowski.

Rev Wojciech was in Poland when the allegations surfaced and has not returned to the Dominican Republic.

Pope Francis has instructed the Vatican office that handles abuse cases to act "decisively" to protect children, help victims and take the necessary measures to punish the guilty.

Pope Francis in July also signed off on legislation criminalising child sex abuse and other sexual crimes – laws that apply to Vatican employees as well as diplomatic staff.

The whereabouts of the 65-year-old Dr Wesolowski were unknown.

He was removed a few weeks ago, Fr Lombardi said, though there was no official announcement of it in the Vatican's daily bulletin.

Irish Independent

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