Pages

Monday, August 25, 2014

Archbishop rapes Dominican children and gets away with it: Pope Francis where is your zero tolerance policy?

For the first time, according to the New York Times, a top Vatican ambassador — a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors.

Sneaking around Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in black track pants and a baseball cap, he would walk along the oceanfront promenade where poor shoeshine boys worked and lure them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero. The boys say he gave them money to perform sexual acts.

They never knew his identity until his picture was front page local news and after he was suddenly recalled to Rome: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Before the Vatican shipped him out, a local video crew got a tip about the stealthy molester and went to film him – he then disappeared from the waterfront.  According to Dominican law enforcement authorities Wesolowski began sending a young Dominican church deacon to procure children for him.

The deacon, Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, was arrested by the police on June 24, 2013, accused of solicitation of minors, and jailed. Although Reyes wrote to Wesolowski  he was ignored and left in jail. In his letter Reyes said, “We have offended God” and the church by sexually abusing children and adolescents “for crumbs of money.”

We all remember the recent claims of Pope Francis, who called child sexual abuse “such an ugly crime” and pledged to move the Roman Catholic Church into an era of “zero tolerance.” For priests and bishops who have violated children, he told reporters in May, “There are no privileges.”

Was he punished?  Wesolowski received “the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law short of excommunication: he was defrocked by the Vatican.   What terrible punishment for him! How does that help the abused children? What justice do they get? The Vatican says that it intends to try Wesolowski on criminal charges — we know what a great job they do policing themselves. What about criminal prosecution in a real court of law like any other criminal? What about sending him back for a jail sentence in the Dominican Republic?

It didn’t happen because the church, acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Wesolowski so he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic. Diplomatic immunity ensures that diplomats like the serial pedophile Wesolowski cannot be sued or prosecuted in the country where they committed crimes and are given safe passage back home. This is a failure of justice for the sexually abused children.

Has the church changed?  Is there still a culture of accepted and covered up child abuse? Where are the authorities?  The United Nations recently condemned the Vatican’s behavior in handling child sex abuse cases – will they say something?  If the Roman Catholic Church is serious about dealing with child sexual abuse they need to revoke Wesolowski’s diplomatic immunity, return him to Dominican Republic, and give authorities the evidence to convict him. We don’t know if Vatican representatives are committing the same crimes against children in other countries, but their failure to turn over Wesolowski to local authorities ensures that such crimes will be repeated over and over while pope francis ensures us how much he cares about the children.