Pope Francis has demanded that serious cases of the abuse of minors by clergy be dealt with swiftly and rigorously.
Tuesday, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the head of the Vatican Press Office, released a statement saying that it is the Pope’s “express desire” that such cases be addressed with “just and necessary rigor, and with the full assumption of responsibility on the part of the institutions that are governed by the Holy See.”
In the past, Pope Francis has called the sexual abuse of children by priests an “ugly crime” and likened it to “a satanic Mass,” calling for “zero tolerance.”
Tuesday’s statement also announced that former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, already undergoing criminal proceedings for the abuse of minors, has been placed under house arrest. The Vatican’s prosecutor issued the restrictive measure in light of the “grave facts of abuse against minors that took place in the Dominican Republic,” where Wesolowski had served as nuncio. He “could eventually face charges in the Dominican Republic and in his native Poland.”
This past June, Wesolowski was defrocked after being found guilty of sexual abuse by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he was removed from his post as nuncio in the Dominican Republic. He was later recalled to the Vatican.
Wesolowski forfeited his diplomatic immunity upon being removed from his position as nuncio.
The former archbishop had appealed the sentence of a return to the lay state that was imposed upon him. The Vatican has said they expect a final judgment in October 2014.
Fr. Lombardi states that the “seriousness of the allegation” prompted the investigator’s office to issue the order. However, due to the former archbishop’s documented medical condition, he has been placed under house arrest at a facility within Vatican city state limits.