Ex-papal envoy dies at Vatican while awaiting trial on sex-abuse charges

Los Angeles Times


A former papal envoy accused of paying young boys for sex has died before his trial at the Vatican could get underway, officials said Friday.

In the first trial of its kind at the Vatican’s own court, Jozef Wesolowski, 67, faced seven years in jail on charges that he paid shoeshine boys for sex while serving as papal nuncio, or ambassador, in the Dominican Republic.

A Vatican statement said Wesolowski was found dead at his residence in the enclave early Friday morning. Although an autopsy has yet to be carried out, the Vatican said natural causes were a likely cause of death.

Pope Francis has been informed of Wesolowski’s death, the statement said.

In July, Wesolowski was taken to the hospital the day before he was due in court for the first day of his trial, forcing an adjournment. The Vatican did not specify the nature of his illness.

The former archbishop’s trial was the first time a senior church official was sent before a Vatican criminal court accused of sex abuse and marked a crucial test of Pope Francis’ avowal to crack down on abusive priests and the bishops accused of covering up for them. Wesolowski was accused of paying minors for sexual acts, purchasing pedophile material and offending Christian morality.

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