Vatican defrocks Polish archbishop Josef Wesolowski accused of sexual abuse

Wesolowski will be stripped of the priesthood pending criminal proceedings

The Vatican has ordered a Polish archbishop accused of sexual abuse in the Dominican Republic to be defrocked as a priest pending further criminal proceedings, in an extremely rare step for such a senior official in the Church.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered Josef Wesolowski, a former Vatican nuncio or ambassador to the Caribbean nation to be stripped of the priesthood.

The ruling was delivered after a canonical trial - under Church law - in the Vatican and came after the Catholic Church vowed to clean up the scandal of sexual abuse of children by priests that has blighted it for more than a decade.

In May, Pope Francis declared a “zero tolerance” policy for members of the clergy who abuse children after appointing a former child victim as one of the first members of a new commission to help the Church put an end to clerical sexual abuse in March.

The Pope also announced plans to meet victims at the Vatican next week, The Telegraph has reported.

Wesolowski will have two months to appeal the ruling. The Holy See said in a statement criminal proceedings by Vatican judicial authorities would begin once the sentence was confirmed. If found guilty in a criminal trial, Wesolowski could risk extradition to the Dominican Republic.

He was recalled last August to the Vatican, which said a month later that it would cooperate with Dominican authorities investigating him on suspicion of paedophilia.

The Vatican said his movements had not been restricted while the case was being considered but that following the decision to expel him from the priesthood "all measures appropriate to the seriousness of the case will be adopted".

As an independent city state, the Vatican can detain or limit the movements of those subject to its jurisdiction.

Last month, the United Nations watchdog body against torture called on the Vatican to investigate the Wesolowski case and determine whether it warranted criminal prosecution or extradition to face charges in the Dominican Republic.

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory