WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The Polish church on Saturday buried a former papal diplomat who was charged by a Vatican court of sexually abusing minors and possessing child pornography but who died before he answered the accusations.
Silence and contemplation replaced the sermon at the burial for Jozef Wesolowski in the southern Polish village of Czorsztyn, according to a report by the Polish press agency PAP. At a funeral for him at the Vatican on Monday, eight minutes of silence also replaced a homily for the disgraced former archbishop.
At the burial, fragments from a letter to family members were read out in which he declared his innocence. "They accuse of me deeds which I never committed," one of the letters said, according to PAP.
Wesolowski, 67, died in his room at the Vatican on Aug. 27 as he was awaiting trial in a Holy See court. The Vatican has said that a preliminary autopsy showed he died of a heart attack.
By the time his trial began he had already been defrocked. Wesolowski was accused of sexually abusing teenage boys while serving as papal envoy in the Dominican Republic. His trial in a Vatican courtroom began on July 11, but was hastily adjourned because he had taken ill a day earlier and was hospitalized in intensive care.
In the few minutes before trial was adjourned indefinitely due to that illness, the court clerk read the charges aloud. Among them was possession of what Vatican prosecutors described as an "enormous" quantity of child pornography on Wesolowski's computer. Another charge described how Wesolowski allegedly corrupted, through lewd acts, boys presumed to be between 13 and 16 years old "in order to carry out on them, and in their presence, sexual acts."
The trial was seen a highly visible way for Francis to show his determination to crack down on high-ranking churchmen worldwide accused of sex abuse of minors or of covering up such abuse by lower-ranking churchmen.