Józef Wesołowski, defendant in Vatican’s first child abuse trial, dies

The Guardian (UK)

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome

Friday 28 August 2015

The former Vatican ambassador Józef Wesołowski has died before he was due to go on trial for paedophilia, dealing a significant blow to Pope Francis’s efforts to tackle child sex abuse within the Catholic church.

Wesołowski was found dead at his Vatican residence early on Friday morning, the Holy See said in a statement. He is believed to have died from natural causes and a postmortem examination will be carried out on Friday to confirm the cause of death.

The Polish former archbishop was to be the first Vatican official to be tried within the walls of the Holy See for allegedly sexually abusing children while ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

The trial was scheduled to start on 11 July but was postponed after Wesołowski was taken to hospital after falling ill. Court proceedings were suspended indefinitely and were due to recommence once the accused’s health had improved.

Wesołowski, 67, returned to the Vatican two years ago amid reports that he had abused shoeshine boys plucked from the promenade in Santo Domingo. He was defrocked and arrested in 2014 and lived under house arrest while awaiting trial. In addition to the charges relating to his time as ambassador, Wesołowski was also accused of possessing child pornography at the Vatican.

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