Truth must prevail in abuse case against former nuncio, pope says

Pope Francis expressed his hope that truth prevail and justice be served in the Vatican investigation and trial of Jozef Wesolowski, a former archbishop and papal nuncio, who has been accused of sexually abusing young boys.

According to the attorney general of the Dominican Republic, where Wesolowski served as nuncio and was alleged to have committed the abuse, the pope said it was important "that the truth always prevail."

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The pope told him it was important the juridical bodies in the Dominican Republic and the Vatican both are able to "act in full freedom and within the framework of (juridical) norms," Francisco Dominguez Brito, the attorney general, said in a written statement.

When greeting dignitaries after his general audience in St. Peter's Square Dec. 3, the pope met with Brito, who was in Rome to discuss how the Vatican was proceeding with the sex abuse case against Wesolowski.

Brito met Dec. 2 with Vatican City's promoter of justice, Gian Piero Milano, and with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, a top official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, about how the Vatican was proceeding with its investigation and what the nature of its criminal procedure and juridical authority is, Brito said in his statement.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, spoke to Brito after his meetings and told reporters that the attorney general came away "fully satisfied" with the meetings and how things were being handled. Brito was in Europe to make contact with officials at the Vatican and in Wesolowski's native Poland.

Father Lombardi had said Dec. 2 that Brito's meeting with Milano took place "within the framework of the international cooperation of the investigating agencies." The meeting "was useful for both sides given the complexity of the inquest" and the likelihood that the Vatican will make a formal request for evidence from the investigation in the Dominican Republic.

Citing the "gravity of the accusations" of sexually abusing boys in the Dominican Republic, the Vatican placed Wesolowski under house arrest in late September. "In light of the medical condition of the accused, supported by medical documentation," he was not housed in a Vatican jail cell.

In his Dec. 2 statement, Father Lombardi said the Vatican's criminal investigation of Wesolowski is continuing, but the time limit for house arrest had expired. The former nuncio, he said, "has been allowed a certain freedom of movement, but with the obligation of remaining within the (Vatican City) State."

After a separate investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Wesolowski was dismissed from the clerical state in June, depriving him of all rights and duties associated with being a priest except the obligation of celibacy.

He had been nuncio to the Dominican Republic until August 2013, when Pope Francis ordered him to return to the Vatican and the investigations began.

Wesolowski is likely to face a criminal trial at the Vatican and Father Lombardi said the Vatican's criminal investigations are continuing. The former nuncio has been interrogated once and other sessions are planned, he said.

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