VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis assured Dominican authorities on Wednesday that the truth must prevail in the case of his former ambassador to the Caribbean country who is accused of sexually abusing young boys.
Francis met with the Dominican Republic's top prosecutor, Francisco Dominguez Brito, after his Wednesday general audience. Dominguez Brito also met with the Vatican's criminal prosecutor and other officials to discuss the case against Jozef Wesolowski.
The Holy See recalled Wesolowski last year after rumors surfaced in Santo Domingo that he allegedly paid shoeshine boys to masturbate. Wesolowski has been defrocked and placed under modified house arrest inside Vatican City pending a decision by the Vatican criminal court on whether to indict him.
In a statement, Dominguez Brito quoted Francis as stressing the importance that the truth must prevail and that both Vatican and Dominican courts do their work freely and respect the law. In a sign that the Holy See endorsed the prosecutor's account of their meeting, the Vatican spokesman read the statement to reporters.
Dominguez Brito told reporters he was satisfied with the Vatican's handling of the Wesolowski case so far, though he made clear that Dominican authorities had provided the Vatican with sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution.
While there is no extradition treaty between the Vatican and Dominican Republic, the Holy See has said Wesolowski, a Polish prelate ordained by St. John Paul II, no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity and could be prosecuted by other courts once the Vatican investigation is finished.
Dominican and Polish authorities have opened investigations against him, but no charges have been filed, presumably pending the outcome of the Vatican investigation. Dominguez Brito acknowledged that the Vatican had jurisdiction over the case given that Wesolowski was a diplomat when the alleged abuse occurred.
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