Authorities at the Vatican arrested former Vatican diplomat Rev. Carlo Alberto Capella for alleged possession of child pornography and its distribution or sale. Capella had been recalled from his post at the Vatican nunciature (embassy) in Washington DC in September 2017 after the Vatican informed by the State Department that a member of the Holy See diplomatic corps had possibly violated laws relating to “child pornography images.”
An arrest warrant was issued, following an investigation by the Vatican’s promoter of justice. Capella is being held in a cell guarded by the Vatican Gendarmerie. Capella is being held under Paragraph 3 of Article 10 of Law 8 of the Vatican city state, which applies a penalty of at least one to five years imprisonment and a fine of 2,500 to 50,000 euros for the “distribution, dissemination, transmission or sale of child pornography or its possession for these purposes.”
Also, according to a statement from the Vatican, Capella is also being held under Paragraph 5 of article 10 of the law, which indicates that if the amount of pornographic material was “a considerable quantity,” the aforementioned penalty increases.
According to Article 4 of Law 8 of the Vatican City State, instituted by Pope Francis in 2013, child pornography is defined as “any representation, by whatever means, of a minor engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities as well as any representation of the sexual parts of a minor for primarily sexual purposes.” Law 8 applies even to crimes “committed abroad” by “internationally protected” Vatican citizens. The Holy See or Vatican city state has diplomatic representatives in foreign capitals all over the world.
The possession of child pornography is also considered a “canonical crime” in the Church, and in 2010, Benedict XVI added it to the list of “most grave delicts,” meaning crimes dealt with directly by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and can result in dismissal from the clergy.
Since departing the U.S. Capella has been a resident of the Vatican City. A request by the State Department to lift his diplomatic immunity was declined by the Vatican. However, information gathered by the State Department was transmitted to the Vatican’s promoter of justice. Police in Windsor, Ontario, have also mentioned child porn charges against Capella.