The Vatican says its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who has been charged by church prosecutors with sexually abusing children in the Caribbean country, has died of apparent natural causes.

A statement from the Vatican said Jozef Wesolowski was found dead in his Vatican room early Friday. The Vatican prosecutor ordered an immediate autopsy.

The Vatican said Pope Francis was informed.

The Polish-born Wesolowski was due to have gone on trial last month at a Vatican tribunal on charges of abuse and possession of child pornography. However, the hearing was postponed after he was taken ill.

Wesolowski was previously defrocked under canon law procedures but was facing possible jail time if convicted in its civil tribunal.