Following abuse accusations last fall involving the former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic, the Vatican has concluded the first part of his canonical trial with a guilty verdict and laicization. Accusations of sexual misconduct were reported last year regarding the former nuncio Josef Wesolowski, which led to his Aug. 21 resignation. Following the publication of the initial accusations, a 13-year-old boy from the country said in a television interview that the Polish former archbishop had solicited him for sexual favors in exchange for money. He was then taken into protective custody by Dominican Republic officials. In September the Vatican expressed their willingness to hand the former nuncio over to civil authorities, even though they are not required to do so since there is no extradition treaty between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic, and since they possess the legal right to invoke diplomatic immunity in protection of the nuncio. In a June 27 announcement making known Msgr. Wesolowski’s laicization, the Vatican explained that he now has two months in order to make an appeal, and that his penal trial before Vatican judicial authorities will begin again as soon as the canonical sentence is definite. The Vatican also specified that as the former nuncio waits for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith’s verification of the charges made against him, he has been granted a certain flexibility in terms of his freedom of movement. In wake of the sentence passed by the congregation, the Holy See assured that all the necessary procedures will be taken relating to Msgr. Wesolowski, according to the gravity of the case. In a September letter signed by Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez of Santo Domingo and president of the Dominican bishops' conference after the nuncio’s accusation, the bishops called for a “purification of the Church and for the removal of those who unworthily exercise this ministry and do not deserve to be called priests.” This purification, the letter read, should take place with “the collaboration of authentic priests, who are the majority, and of the church community.” Members of the Church in the Dominican Republic are also recovering from the recent accusations of sexual abuse against Father Juan Manuel Mota de Jesus. A “root problem” of clergy abuse, Cardinal López said, is “an undetermined number” of candidates preparing for the priesthood who “do not have an authentic vocation” and who “during formation are able to feign something that they are not, and if formation directors are not careful, they sneak into the clergy, and later the bishops pay the consequences for their excesses and turmoil.” He then asked as president of the Dominican bishops for “forgiveness of the victims of the heartless men who have abused them and their families” as well as forgiveness “of the community of the Catholic Church, which is humiliated by this unspeakable abuse, and also of the entire Dominican nation which is witnessing this unfortunate spectacle.” The cardinal entreated civil authorities to “act with conviction and clarity” in their investigations, and prayed that “those who have done wrong assume responsibly the consequences of their actions.”
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