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Arrest of former Polish prelate is inkblot test for sex abuse reform

25. sept. 2014

John L. Allen J, CRUX, skriver bl.a.

In many ways, the case of ex-Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the former Vatican diplomat accused of paying underage boys in the Dominican Republic for sexual acts, has become an inkblot test for broader impressions of where the Catholic Church stands on recovery from its child sexual abuse scandals.

For critics, it’s an object lesson in the Church’s inability, or unwillingness, to make “zero tolerance” stick.

The Polish envoy was recalled from the Dominican Republic in secret in August 2013, just days before an investigative reporter in the country broke the story of the charges. The Vatican initially gave shifting, even contradictory, statements as to the reason for the decision.

The 66-year-old cleric was allowed to move freely in Rome, with no restrictions. At one stage, a visiting bishop from the Dominican Republic saw him on a Roman street near the Vatican and tweeted out, “The silence of the Church has hurt the people of God.”

Because of his status as a diplomat, many people assumed that Wesolowski had been brought to Rome to evade civil prosecution in either the Dominican Republic or his native Poland.

To those sympathetic to the Church, Wesolowski is instead a symbol of a reformed system at work.

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