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Vatican recalls diplomat from USA over 'breach of child abuse images law'

Vatican recalls diplomat from USA over 'breach of child abuse images law'”

A priest working in the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C. has been recalled to the Vatican after US authorities cited possible violations of child pornography laws, the Vatican said Friday.

The Vatican said an investigation had been opened and the church was seeking "international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case", and it would be handled confidentially on a preliminary basis. It said the Vatican had asked for information about the case from the U.S; it wasn't clear if any had been provided.

In a statement, the Vatican said the U.S. State Department had notified the Vatican on August 21 of a "possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images" by one of its diplomats in Washington.

The Associated Press reported that the State Department had asked the Vatican to lift the official's diplomatic immunity on August 21, but that request was denied.

The Vatican said recalling the priest was consistent with diplomatic practice of sovereign states.

"Having received such information from the United States government, the Secretariat of State transmitted this information to the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican Tribunal", the statement said.

An exterior view of the Vatican embassy is seen in Washington
The Vatican embassy in Washington. Yuri Gripas Reuters file

The Vatican did not name the priest.

The Vatican declined to identify the diplomat, or his nationality.

It is not the first time the Vatican has been forced to recall a diplomatic official. Jozef Wesolowski was ordered to leave as apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic after being accused of sexually abusing young boys on the Caribbean island. Józef Wesołowski was defrocked but died before a Vatican trial against him commenced. He never faced a court in the Dominican Republic.

Pope Francis has pledged "zero tolerance" on child abuse by its clergy. But the Argentinian pope has also been criticised for not doing enough to pursue officials who commit such crimes.

The priest was suspected of possessing, but not producing or sharing, images of child abuse, including prepubescent children, a United States source familiar with the case told AP on condition of anonymity.



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