A high-ranking Vatican diplomat working at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington has been recalled to be tried on child pornography charges, Vatican and US officials said Friday.
A U.S. source familiar with the case said that the diplomat is suspected of having possessed child pornography, including images of prepubescent children, but not producing or disseminating it. The Associated Press reports the source was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and was speaking anonymously.
The Vatican has declined to identify the priest but said he is currently in Vatican City, as the subject of the Vatican’s own investigation into the matter.
The scandal is burdensome and embarrassing for Pope Francis, who has preached a “zero-tolerance” policy for sexual abuse, as it marks the second diplomat to be accused of sexual nefariousness. Francis’ own financial right-hand man, Cardinal George Pell, is currently on trial in his home nation of Australia for a long history of sexual abuse.
The State Department demonstrated its belief that the diplomat is guilty by requesting the Vatican lift his immunity on Aug. 21. That request was denied three days later.
In a statement, the Vatican said the U.S. State Department had notified the Vatican on Aug. 21 of a “possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by one of its diplomats in Washington.
The Vatican said that recalling the priest was the standard diplomatic practice of a sovereign state. They justified not releasing the diplomat’s identity by saying the case was still under investigation.
The Vatican spokesman said he wouldn’t preclude if the diplomat’s case would also be referred to prosecutors in its canonical tribunal.
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