Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Nuncio Gets Away With It

I freely admit it: I’m out of control on the subject, though I had tried hard to rein myself in, since even I, a Norwegian-American, can summon up enough moral Nordic rectitude to deal with the Catholic church and its treatment of the sexual abuse scandals. At a certain point, there’s nothing more to say: Yes, the priests f…cked around and the bishops covered it up.

That said, the case of Józef Wesolowski certainly is unlike any other. You may remember, he was the papal nuncio for the Dominican Republic and the apostolic delegate for Puerto Rico, since one of the most crushing blows about not being an independent state is that we cannot have formal relations with the Vatican. Ouch—boys, that one really hurt!

Wesolowski showed complete lack of imagination in his sexual tastes, though it was shoeshine boys and not altar boys, but he was certainly industrious, since reports have that he had more almost 100,000 pornographic images on his computer. So on 21 August 2013, Wesolowski was recalled to the Vatican, as was another Polish priest, Wojciech Gil.

Well, that’s the official story. The unofficial story is that the archbishop of Santo Domingo was sufficiently alarmed at the press that was going to explode that he ran off to Rome and talked to Pope Francis, who recalled Wesolowski.

Can anyone believe that this pope is serious about the abuse scandal? Well, tell it to the numerous Romans who saw Wesolowski walking the streets of Rome, outside of Vatican City. Right, so when they got enough flak about that, they placed Wesolowski on house arrest, and then began the slow, tedious process of determining what to do with Wesolowski.

They did the only thing possible: They defrocked him. OK—here’s the catholicnews.com on the subject:

The Vatican announced in June that a canonical court had investigated Wesolowski on charges of sex abuse in the Dominican Republic and concluded by dismissing him from the clerical state, depriving him of all rights and duties associated with being a priest except the obligation of celibacy.

Guys? You’re expecting a man with a tenth of a million pornographic photos on his computer to be celibate? This creep is a predator with a major addiction to porn, and you think he’s gonna be celibate?

Right—so then it was a much-touted criminal trial, due to begin ten days ago. But Wesolowski’s lawyer walked into court, the morning of the first day of the trial, and announced that Wesolowski was in intensive care at a Rome hospital. Of course, of course, no one could say what ailed (or rather, what else ailed) the former papal nuncio, but remember, this is Rome, and those Italian tongue? They quite frequently wag.

So six days later, a Roman newspaper published a rumor of what I immediately suspected: The ex-prelate had arrived at the hospital confused and dazed from a mixture of alcohol and drugs. In short, Wesolowski was about to add the sin of suicide to the long list of others. So the trial was delayed, and then, three days after he was hospitalized, Wesolowski was released.

OK—it was eye rubbing, but was it worth writing about? Were we all just a little tired of it all? Yup, but I was still following the saga, when I came upon this:

The Vatican said in a June 15 statement that Wesołowski has been accused of a number of offenses, “some committed during his stay in Rome from August 2013 until the moment of his arrest, on Sept. 22, 2014.” Other offenses were allegedly committed when he was nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico, from 2008 to 2013, the Vatican said.

OK—it’s clear: While being recalled by the Vatican for an investigation of sexual abuses, Wesolowski had continued his predatory behavior under Francis’s nose. But in the statement above, is the Vatican alleging that Wesolowski committed offenses here, in Puerto Rico?

OK—followed the link and got this, in Italian. Do I speak the language? Of course not, but anybody who has studied Latin, French and Spanish can figure it out:

La prima udienza del processo è fissata per il giorno 11 luglio 2015. All’ex Prelato vengono contestati taluni reati commessi sia durante il suo soggiorno a Roma dall’agosto 2013 sino al momento del suo arresto (avvenuto il 22 settembre 2014), sia nel periodo trascorso nella Repubblica Dominicana, nei cinque anni in cui ha ricoperto l’Ufficio di Nunzio Apostolico (il 24 gennaio 2008 era stato nominato Nunzio nella Repubblica Dominicana e delegato apostolico a Porto Rico, uffici da cui si è dimesso il 21 agosto 2013).

OK—so that Vatican is not alleging that Wesolowski committed crimes in Puerto Rico, but who is? Well, as you can see in the clip below, a number of the parishioners are: Wesolowski had visited the island frequently and had stayed in the parish of St. Martín de Porres, apparently as a guest of José Colón Otero, a priest who was removed after allegations of abuse…

…OK, the story is wacky enough to warrant its own paragraph. According to witnesses, boys were seen staying over at the parish house, and the next morning they were unable to look anybody in the eye. So the Vatican at last looked into it, and then defrocked Colón Otero. So what did the pope do, when the ex-priest appealed the decision? Partially reinstated him, since it could there wasn’t enough “moral certainty” to convict him of abuse, only of violating the sanctity of the confession.

What’s interesting about this case is what hasn’t happened, as much as what has. The Dominican Republic hasn’t requested Wesolowski’s extradition, perhaps because they don’t have a treaty that allows them to do so. But Poland requested extradition, and got turned down. The reason? Diplomatic immunity. But what about now, when Wesolowski has been defrocked? Presumably, that no longer applies; on the other hand, it might.

What else hasn’t happened? Well, the church has played a very old game: Out wait your enemies. And so the problems in the archdiocese of Arecibo, and the predation of a papal nuncio or an apostolic delegate or whoever he was have been completely forgotten, because everybody has just discovered that we owe some undetermined billions of dollars.

That’s one explanation. But the conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but wonder: The island is overwhelmingly Catholic, especially in the upper classes. The quiet word can be so very effective, when whispered in the right ear. I can only believe two things.

Wesolowski committed crimes on American soil, and…

…he’ll never pay for it.