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August 28, 2014
Column #1,722
Vatican Hides Predator Archbishop
By Mike McManus

Where is Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski of the Dominican Republic? No one knows. This is a scandal at several levels, but I regret to say it begins with Pope Francis.

The Pope called priestly sexual abuse “a leprosy in our house.” He met recently with victims of sexual abuse by priests, and told them, the Church “should weep and make reparation” for any such crimes.

In May he vowed “zero tolerance” for abusers and said bishops would be held accountable if they covered up crimes of any who violated children. I believed him.

Sadly, no longer. The Pope has not kept his word.

In 2008 Archbishop Weslowski was sent to the Dominican Republic as the Vatican’s ambassador or nuncio. At age 23 he was ordained a priest in Poland by then Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II.

On Sunday in a page 1 story, the New York Times reported that a Dominican TV crew learned last year that the papal nuncio went to the beach to pick up young boys, who he paid for various sexual acts.

One was Francis Aquino Aneury, now aged 17, who earned $1.50 a day shining shoes. But the balding man with a baseball cap gave him more than $10 when they met three years ago, to swim naked in the ocean while Wesolowski watched. Gradually, the man wanted more and paid $25 to $135 for sexual acts, such as watching the boy masturbate.

“I felt very bad,” said Aquino. “I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I needed the money,” he told the Times.

The nuncio noticed the TV crew and disappeared from the waterfront. But he began sending a young church deacon to procure boys. On June 24, 2013 the police jailed him for soliciting minors.

No one bailed him out. So the deacon wrote to Wesolowski, saying “We have offended God” by sexually abusing children “for crumbs of money” so that “your sexual appetite can be satisfied. Hopefully you will consider asking God for forgiveness.”

The deacon mailed a copy to Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, head of the nation’s Catholic Church. A year ago Wesoloski was secretly recalled to Rome where he met with Pope Francis. This action violated Vatican guidelines which say that criminal sexual accusations should be reported to local police.

In September the TV station broadcast the story in which a boy asserted he had been abused. That prompted the local district attorney to interview four boys aged 12 to 17 with similar accusations. She said the case should have been prosecuted in the Dominican Republic:
“These children who were abused and their families and the Dominican society have a legitimate right to see Jozef Wesolowski judged by a jury, not as a diplomat, but for what he really is, a child abuser.”

What happened to Wesolowski? He’s faced the harshest penalty possible under church law, other than excommunication. On June 27 he was defrocked by the Vatican and is now a layman. The Vatican also plans to try him on criminal charges, the first time it has held a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – is not impressed: “Throughout the whole affair the Vatican kept silent, quietly whisked him abroad, and let the man walk freely in the literal and figurative power center of Catholics.

“They rebuffed secular authorities who want to prosecute – as they have done for centuries. The Vatican is saying one thing but doing another. The Archbishop could be anywhere. By defrocking him, they have enabled him to escape. They have increased the odds he will flee – or has fled.”

The deacon remains in jail, but Wesolowski has disappeared.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated case, a Catholic diocese in Missouri was ordered this week to pay $1.1 million to victims of sexual abuse. Why? Bishop Robert Finn, who promised he’d report any new cases of child abuse so that “there will never, ever be a repeat of the behaviors” that led the church to pay $10 million to victims.

However, Father Shawn Ratigan was discovered with hundreds of photographs of girls on his computer. He pled guilty to child pornography and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Bishop Finn was found guilty of a misdemeanor of failing to report Father Ratigan, sparking the new fine.

Yet Pope Francis has not removed the Bishop, as he promised.

The cover up continues – not “zero tolerance.”

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