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AND ANOTHER THING... No accountability from Pope Francis in wake of molestation accusations against ex-Vatican official

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Ex-Vatican nuncio to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, is accused of sexually-molesting minors and is currently being protected by the Vatican.
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EDMOND, Okla. -- So here we go again. This time it’s not a priest, but a high-level Vatican official accused of serially abusing young boys in the Dominican Republic, with some pretty damning evidence provided.

Before his defrocking (but not excommunication) on June 27 of this year, Jozef Wesolowski was a Vatican nuncio, the highest-ranking position of papal emissary – the Pope’s personal envoy – to the Dominican Republic since 2008. This was preceded by his 1999 appointment to Bolivia which was followed by successive reassignments starting in 2002 to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. There is evidence that during his years in the Dominican Republic, Wesolowski allegedly preyed on young boys, taking advantage of their poverty and luring them with money. In one particularly disgustingly Machiavellian scheme, he is accused by one boy of obtaining sexual favors for four years in exchange for providing drugs required to control the boy’s epilepsy.

Just this past May, Pope Francis asserted that priests and bishops who commit such crimes would enjoy no privileges. Yet The New York Times, via The (UK) Guardian reports that in 2013, Wesolowski was secreted out of the Dominican Republic and back to the safety of Vatican City. Against its own guidelines, the Roman Catholic Church did not turn over evidence it had discovered, let alone report the alleged crimes to the Dominican authorities. The former nuncio is enjoying Vatican-invoked diplomatic immunity in Rome, thus allowing him to avoid prosecution in the country where he allegedly committed his crimes.

This is also contrary to the Church’s own guidelines.

So perhaps there are privileges for those in the Catholic Church’s higher ranks. While Weslowski awaits his Vatican criminal trial (date not yet reported), he apparently enjoys more freedom than the average criminal in Rome. While Dominican Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez was in Rome this past June to carry evidence of Wesolowski’s crimes to the pope, he tweeted to his followers that he was surprised to see Weslowski strolling Rome’s picturesque streets.

Had it not been for the arrest of the low-level deacon who admittedly procured victims for Weslowski, poor young Dominican boys might still be suffering his abuse. On July 2, 2013, the deacon who had been arrested on accusations of soliciting minors sent a letter to Wesolowski, urging him to turn himself in. He also sent copies of that letter to Cardinal Rodriguez, the head of the church in the Dominican Republic, along with a Dominican bishop. On August 21, 2013, the nuncio was secretly recalled to Rome.

Less than a week later, Cardinal Rodriguez publicly called Wesolowski “a great friend and promoter of peace.” A great friend to whom? Certainly not young boys. Peace for whom? Again, not the young Dominican boys, vulnerable to Wesolowski’s exploitation. I wonder how Cardinal Rodriguez can look himself in the mirror, defending such a man, rather than the most vulnerable people in his community.

Once again, officials at the highest level of the Catholic Church, including a pope who has repeatedly denounced such crimes and publicly vowed accountability, have attempted to sweep yet another crime, another betrayal of trust, under the rug.

This is the “zero tolerance” promised by Pope Francis? This is how he demonstrates his commitment to protect vulnerable children?

The Pope must do the right thing: not merely follow the letter of the law, but truly commit to the spirit of the law. Just because a loophole exists that allows high-ranking officials to escape justice in the jurisdictions where the crimes are committed, does not mean it is the moral option. You cannot hold yourself up as a moral authority to the world when you take advantage of legal loopholes, just as the ethically corrupt banking officials who escaped accountability for the financial collapse of 2008 did.

We can no longer accept excuses like “too big to fail”. You cannot – or should not – continue to use disingenuous excuses and justifications. Clearly Wall Street, the auto industry, and religious institutions cannot be trusted to police themselves. It is proven time and again at the expense of Society’s least powerful and most vulnerable.

Until you can identify with the victims rather than the institution shielding the perpetrators, washing feet and wearing plain clothes are empty gestures. And empty gestures can never bring back the innocence, emotional security and self-respect that has been stolen from the Church’s victims. Until it truly allows these predators to be held accountable, the Roman Catholic Church has no moral authority.

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About the Author

Lisa DelCol
An ex-pat Canadian who came to Oklahoma via Paris, France in 1999, I arrived with my husband...
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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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