People are seen outside the apostolic nunciature in Washington in 2014 (Getty Images)
The priest could face up to 12 years imprisonment if found guilty
A member of the Vatican diplomatic corps serving in Washington has been recalled to the Vatican where he is involved in a criminal investigation involving child pornography, the Vatican said.
The Vatican press office said that it was notified on August 21 by the U.S. State Department “of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington.”
“The Holy See, following the practice of sovereign states, recalled the priest in question, who is currently in Vatican City,” the press office said.
The Associated Press reported that the State Department confirmed it had asked the Vatican to lift the official’s diplomatic immunity. It said that request was denied.
The Vatican said the priest’s identity and other details are covered by “investigative confidentiality” during the preliminary investigation stage. The Vatican yearbook lists the nuncio, Archbishop Christoph Pierre, and three priests as making up the diplomatic staff at the Washington nunciature.
After receiving the notification from the State Department, the Vatican said, “the Secretariat of State transmitted this information to the promoter of justice of the Vatican tribunal.” The promoter of justice is the Vatican’s chief prosecutor.
“The promoter of justice opened an investigation and has already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case,” the Vatican said.
Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said the investigation is concentrated on matters defined as “crimes against children” in the Vatican’s 2013 “Supplementary Norms on Criminal Law Matters.”
Specifically, he said, the investigation is referring to what the law defines as “child pornography,” which “means any representation, by whatever means, of a minor engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities as well as any representation of the sexual parts of a minor for primarily sexual purposes.”
Burke also referred reporters to section 10 of the supplementary norms, which discuss criminal penalties for a person found guilty of producing or selling and trading child pornography; in those cases Vatican law foresees a maximum of 12 years imprisonment and a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($299,000/£220,000). PAT SAYS: This happening at the Papal Nunciature in Washington is a sign that problem of child abuse in the Roman Catholic is a CURRENT PROBLEM as well as HISTORIC PROBLEM. The causes of paedophilia are complex and mainly unknown. In the case of Catholic priests, I think that the issue is further complicated by: 1. The Catholic negative and harmful approach to sexuality in general. 2. Obligatory celibacy. In saying that only 4% of priests are known to have sexually abused children. Some reports have suggested that priests abuse boys more than girls? What I can't understand about this case is the Vatican refusing to lift this priests diplomatic immunity. He was downloading child porn in the US. He should have been handed over to the US authorities for prosecution and punishment. It proves that the Vatican is still putting canon law above civil law. The US nuncio should be expelled from the US and their so called "embassy closed down. The Vatican is still protecting child abusers!