When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

LA STAMPA

Pope Francis Takes The Hardest Line On Clerical Abuse

With the arrest of former Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Pope is showing that he will crack down on child sex abuse in his Church by ending any protection of criminals.

Pope Francis has vowed there will be no exemption from punishment for sex abusers.
Pope Francis has vowed there will be no exemption from punishment for sex abusers.
Andrea Tornielli

-Analysis-

VATICANCITY — Back in May, this is what Pope Francis told journalists on the plane returning from his three-day trip to the Middle East: "In Argentina, we tell the privileged that they're "daddy's boys," but for anyone guilty of the terrible crime of abusing minors, there cannot be any exemption from punishment, nor privileges."

The pontiff also compared a priest's violence on a child to "black magic" — a real sacrilege. And with the sensational arrest of Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican's former Apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic, who had already been convicted and defrocked by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope has demonstrated that he is acting accordingly. No privileges for the clerics. A former archbishop, who had previously enjoyed diplomatic immunity, has been turned over to authorities.

Wesolowski was placed under house arrest this week in what was the first-ever arrest of its kind inside the Vatican. He was recalled to Rome last year, after the Dominican media alleged he hired "rent boys," and was subsequently banished from the clergy after a canonical court found him guilty of sex abuse.

Two years ago, another sensational arrest put Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI's butler Paolo Gabriele, the Vatileaks "crow," behind bars. A chamber assistant who lived close to the Pope and copied his correspondence, Gabriele was just a layman. This time, however, that it's a member of the clergy — and a high-ranking one at that — signals change. The Holy See and its institutions are taking responsibility and acting "with the right and necessary severity," without using velvet gloves for those with red robes or Vatican passports.

Had he not been recalled, Wesolowski would have been arrested in Santo Domingo. Given the seriousness of the allegations and evidence gathered, the ex-nuncio who lured boys onto beaches could not continue to roam the streets of the Eternal City.

End the intrigue

It's said that Pope Francis was shocked by reading Wesolowski's case files. "A priest who does this, betrays the body of the Lord, because this priest should bring these children to holiness, but instead of that he abuses a child who trusts him. It is very serious."

The stories of six victims of pedophile priests from Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom touched the pontiff deeply, and on July 7 he spent the entire morning with them, meeting them face-to-face. One woman, who was raped as a child, told him, "Yes, you will reduce these priests to the lay state, but after they leave the Church who controls them?" These words were left imprinted in the Pope's mind.

After the canonical process and dismissal from the clerical state, Wesolowski has had to answer for his crimes, and faces potential criminal prosecution from the Vatican itself, whose name is embossed in gold on the red cover of his passport. The Argentine pontiff didn't grant him any privileges.

In the fight against the clerical pedophilia phenomenon — and especially considering the many, many cover-ups of decades past — the man once known as Jorge Bergoglio has continued the work begun by Benedict XVI with great courage and determination. In 2010, at the height of the storm for abuse cases being discovered in many countries, scandalizing even some areas of his own Curia, Benedict said, "The greatest persecution of the Church comes not from its enemies outside, but arises from sin within the Church."

Wesolowski's arrest is a consistent step with the broader reform that Pope Francis is trying to implement in other areas, such as the Vatican's finances — in particular the IOR Vatican bank.

The determination to eliminate the privileges for the "daddy's boys," Francis is struggling to end the intrigue, alliances, power games, and, in some cases, dishonesty — all of the things that contributed to the early retirement of his predecessor.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Donetsk People's Republic holds referendum on joining Russia

Irene Caselli, Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Russia's proxies in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions announced that referendums on joining Russia had begun that Ukrainian and Western officials have denounced as shams.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

For four days, "voting" will be held at people's homes "for security reasons," Russian state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti wrote. On the last day of the "referendums," on September 27, locals will be asked to go to "polling stations."

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ