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Vatican recalls envoy from USA amid child porn inquiry

16 September 2017

The US State Department had notified the Holy See on August 21 "of a "possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images" by one of its diplomats, the Vatican stated".

Pope Francis has declared zero tolerance over abuse scandals that have beset the church for decades, but has appeared to struggle to overcome resistance within the Vatican hierarchy. He died before a ruling was reached in a trial at the Holy See.

In a statement released this afternoon, the Vatican said that after being notified by the USA authorities of the possible violations, the Holy See, "following the practice of sovereign states, recalled the priest in question".

Details of the latest case involving the Washington-based priest remain confidential, but Vatican authorities have passed the case to "the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican Tribunal".

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. State Department had asked the Vatican to lift the priest's diplomatic immunity, but the request was denied. The promoter of justice is the Vatican's chief prosecutor.

The priest, who has not been named, is now in Vatican City, according to a statement from the Vatican. The Roman Catholic state declined to identify him, and said that the case remains subject to confidentiality while still under investigation.

U.S. prosecutors had requested the Vatican lift the diplomatic immunity of the official, hoping to bring the unidentified diplomat to trial on child pornography charges.

Vatican diplomat in United States recalled due to child-porn investigation
Official at Vatican embassy to United States removed over child porn allegations

CWN Editor's Note: The Vatican has recalled a diplomatic official who was working in the office of the apostolic nuncio in Washington, DC.

It said the priest had already returned to Vatican City.

Two years ago the Vatican put the former papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic on trial for child sex offences, a case that was seen as showing the pope's determination to clean up the Church.

The priest will likely face a canonical proceeding, overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a criminal trial overseen by the courts of the Vatican City State. The Roman Catholic state does not have extradition treaties. However, it refused to provide Dominican authorities with information about his whereabouts or how even he had pleaded to the charges.

The Vatican in 2013 specifically criminalized child porn possession, distribution and production in its criminal code. Distribution can be punished with a term of up to five years and a 50,000-euro fine, while the most serious offense of production can bring a 12-year term and 250,000-euro fine.

DiNardo said that while the bishops don't have all the facts, "we reaffirm that when such allegations occur, an immediate, thorough, and transparent investigation should begin in cooperation with law enforcement and immediate steps be taken to protect children".

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Vatican recalls envoy from USA amid child porn inquiry