The apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who had served as the Vatican’s diplomatic representative to the Caribbean nation, has resigned following accusations that he had engaged in illegal sexual conduct with children. Father Federico Lombardi SJ, principal spokesman for the Vatican, said that the Holy See has accepted Wesolowski’s resignation as nuncio. As nuncio, Weslowski had enjoyed diplomatic immunity in the Dominican Republic, as do other diplomatic personnel. Rev. Lombardi said on September 4 Archbishop Wesolowski “has been relieved of his duties, and the Holy See has launched an investigation.”
 Wesolowski faces punishment by the Vatican but may be immune from prosecution in the Dominican Republic because a nuncio has diplomatic status. However, in some cases, such diplomatic immunity has been waived in the past.

Dominican Attorney General Francisco Domínguez Brito said in the capital that his investigation into Wesolowski would take into account national and international law, "given his status as a diplomat." However, Santo Domingo district prosector Yeni Berenice Reynoso said the case "must be investigated and punished in the (Dominican Republic) and not in the Holy See."

The attorney general of the Dominican Republic, Francisco Domínguez said on the same day that no formal charges have been filed against the archbishop. He averred that an investigation is still in its beginnings stages. A government official has been designated to coordinate with Vatican authorities. Official records show Archbishop Weslowski stepped down from his post on August 21. He had also served as the Vatican representative to Puerto Rico, a U.S. dependency. Father Lombardi said that the archbishop was relieved of his duties “in the last few weeks.”

Pope Francis announced just weeks after his election in March as the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years, that he wanted the church to root out sexual abuse of children by bishops and clerics while ensuring that abusers are punished. Monsignor Agripino Núñez Collado of the Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic told reporters the Vatican acted as soon as the pope had been informed of Wesolowski's alleged "missteps."

Wesolowski's current whereabouts are unknown, and local media report that he left the Dominican Republic in August. He is the second Polish priest in the Dominican Republic to be accused of child sex abuse this year. Dominican authorities are also investigating Rev. Wojciech Gil, who was suspended by his religious order in a rural area of the republic after local residents accused him in May 2013 of sexually assaulted altar boys, according to the Church.

According to the Church, Gil was on vacation in Poland when he was suspended. It is not known if he returned to the Dominican Republic. There is an international warrant for his arrest. Two alleged victims have been questioned by authorities.  The prosecutor in the case, Victor González of the court in La Vega said “We have relied on the support and cooperation on the part of the Catholic Church so that truth and justice – values that are the keys to human co-existence – may still prevail.”
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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