Vatican Arrests Archbishop As Catholic Church Cracks Down On Pedophiles

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When allegations of child molestation and the solicitation of child prostitutes arose against Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, head of the church in the Dominican Republic, the church responded as it has in the past, recalling the accused to Rome and away from local authorities. This caused some to accuse the church of shielding pedophiles from prosecution over their crimes. The news that the Vatican itself has now arrested the former Archbishop has stunned the world as a result.

Stripped of his title back in June, Wesolowski has been confined to the Vatican while the tribunal assessed the evidence against him over fears that he would flee the country. With his arrest, the 66-year-old Wesolowski will remain confined to his apartment until trial. Due to his former position as the ambassador to the Dominican Republic, the former Archbishop had diplomatic immunity during the performance of his crimes making it legally difficult to hand him over to local authorities for prosecution, forcing the Holy See to hold its first ever criminal trial for child molestation. Once convicted, it would then be far easier to extradite him to another country for prosecution there.

The Vatican, speaking through its spokesman, the Reverend Federico Lombardi, explained the situation this way:

The authorities of the Holy See, from the very first moments that this case was made known to them, moved without delay and correctly in light of the fact that former nuncio Wesolowski held the position of a diplomatic representative of the Holy See.

Far from any intention of a cover-up, this action demonstrates the full and direct undertaking of the Holy See’s responsibility even in such a serious and delicate case, about which Pope Francis is duly and carefully informed and one which the pope wishes to address justly and rigorously.

This is but the latest move by the Holy See demonstrating that Pope Francis is cleaning house of what some have viewed as a corrupt entity. Pope Francis already shocked the world when he admitted back in July that approximately two percent of the clergy were pedophiles. And while some in the Vatican media tried to explain away the words of the Holy Father, he dismissed them out of hand, and begged forgiveness from the families which the Vatican had failed to protect.

I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons. I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse.

With the step of arresting a prominent Archbishop for his crimes against children, the Catholic Church has taken a bold step forward in reparations to those victimized.

This wave of reform, of cleaning house, has already garnered results as well. The Pope enacted new oversight over the Vatican bank after the arrest of top officials for embezzlement. Instead of criticizing the idea of gay marriage, the pope has instead demonstrated a softer, more accepting attitude, even promoting an LGBT sympathetic Bishop to lead the Chicago Archdiocese, one of the largest within the United States. He even went so far as to criticize the focus on abortion, contraception and LGBT rights as a distraction from the important issues.

Change is not quick to come to any large organization. With nearly a half-million clergy, the Catholic Church is a gigantic structure. Fixing a problem which is decades, if not centuries, in the creation cannot be done overnight. It will take a generation or more to know if Pope Francis’ crusade to save the soul of the Catholic Church is successful. We can only hope, and pray, for his success.