Archbishop Josef Wesolowski removed as nuncio, with Caribbean country and the Holy See both investigating
The Vatican has recalled its ambassador to the Dominican Republic and relieved him of his duties after local media accused him of pedophilia.
The Dominican attorney general later announced that a special prosecutor had been appointed to investigate archbishop Josef Wesolowski, who has been nuncio, or ambassador, in the capital, Santo Domingo, for nearly six years.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Holy See had started a probe of Wesolowski and he had been recalled “in the last few weeks”, specifically over the pedophilia accusations.
Wesolowski could not be reached for comment.
Weeks after his election in March, Pope Francis announced he wanted the church to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure that abusers were punished.
The Dominican attorney general, Francisco Dominguez Brito, said his own country’s investigation would take into account national and international law “given his status as a diplomat”.
Monsignor Agripino Núñez Collado, a church official in the Dominican republic, raises the prospect that Brito may have diplomatic immunity from any action in that country.
The prosecutor for the Santo Domingo district, Yeni Berenice Reynoso, said the probe was triggered by accusations broadcast on Monday by two local TV channels. She said Wesolowski “must be investigated and punished in the [Dominican Republic] and not in the Holy See”.
Wesolowski’s whereabouts are unknown. Local media reports said he left the country in early 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 Wojciech Gil, who was suspended by his religious order in the rural parish of Juncalito in May after local residents accused him of molesting altar boys, according to the church.
Gil had been on vacation in Poland when he was suspended, the church said. It is not known if he returned to the Dominican Republic. He could not be reached for comment.