The Vatican has arrested a former archbishop following revelations he sexually abused young boys while serving as papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Jozef Wesolowski of Poland was defrocked in June and is now being held under house arrest per the orders of a Vatican criminal court.
Wesolowski is being investigated in the Dominican Republic, where he allegedly paid for sex with young boys. As the Vatican’s ambassador there, formerly known as an apostolic nuncio, Wesolowski had diplomatic immunity and was protected from charges. The Vatican stripped him of that protection in August. Wesolowski is appealing the decision to defrock him and a final decision will be made in October.
The Catholic Church called Wesolowski back to the Vatican a week after he resigned as nuncio and a day after Dominican authorities revealed their investigation into his alleged abuses in early September 2013. The Vatican faced accusations of attempting to protect Wesolowski, but maintained the move was made to swiftly deal with Wesolowski and strip him of immunity.
"Far from any intention of a cover-up, this action demonstrates the full and direct undertaking of the Holy See’s responsibility even in such a serious and delicate case, about which Pope Francis is duly and carefully informed and one which the Pope wishes to address justly and rigorously, " the Vatican press release from August read.
Pope Francis overhauled the Vatican's sex crimes laws in 2013 as international pressure mounted on the Catholic Church to address their widespread child sex-abuse issues. The new laws impose more specific and harsher penalties for sexual violence against minors and child pornography. The laws went into effect Sept. 1, 2013, a day before a Dominican news report accused Wesolowski of child abuse.
A statement from the Vatican released Tuesday said Wesolowski presented medical documents proving health issues that kept him from being detained in a more restrictive setting, the Associated Press reported.
Wesolowski was consecrated an archbishop in 2000 by Pope John Paul II, who ordained him as a priest in 1972 when John Paul II was a cardinal. Wesolowski is the highest-ranking Catholic Church member to be investigated under the Vatican's new sex-abuse laws.