by Jack Burns, Free Thought Project:
The Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. has four diplomatic staff, and it is now admitting that at least one diplomat has been found with child pornography—but the church will not allow him to be prosecuted.
As a diplomat, the unidentified priest has immunity from prosecution for most crimes under the Vienna Convention. The State Department requested that the Vatican waive immunity so that the individual could be properly prosecuted on Aug. 21. Instead of allowing the priest to be charged, tried and potentially convicted of possession of child pornography, the Vatican recalled him. In other words, the Vatican protected the priest from prosecution.
According to the Associated Press, “The Vatican declined to identify the priest, but said he was currently in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe.” Going further, the AP wrote, “The State Department said it had asked the Vatican to lift the official’s diplomatic immunity on Aug. 21. It said that request was denied three days later. For the State Department to make such a request, its lawyers would have needed to be convinced that there was reasonable cause for criminal prosecution.”
Possession of child pornography was made illegal in 2013 under the Vatican’s criminal code. If found guilty, the Vatican can sentence the high-ranking priest to up to two years and a fine of 10,000 Euros, which is quite a contrast from the sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison as well as steep fines in the U.S.
The decision to recall the priest has several American Catholic leaders up in arms, protesting the Vatican’s decision to disallow him from being prosecuted. The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, was cited by the Globe and Mail as describing the allegations as “serious.” He said the Vatican should be “forthcoming with more details.”
“We reaffirm that when such allegations occur, an immediate, thorough and transparent investigation should begin in co-operation with law enforcement and immediate steps be taken to protect children,” DiNardo said in a statement.
Pope Francis has been less than truthful with his promise of zero tolerance for child rapists, predators, pedophiles and sex offenders. In February, as TFTP reported, he quietly reduced sanctions against some Catholic priests who were seeking mercy from the church.
Then in May, the pope acknowledged there was a backlog of 2,000 cases of alleged abuse that were not being addressed as quickly as some advocates for children would like to see occur in a more expeditious manner. The acknowledgement comes just a few months after Marie Collins, an Irish pedophile-priest-sex-abuse-survivor, resigned from Pope Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission. She resigned amid “unacceptable” levels of resistance from the Vatican in helping to prosecute pedophile priests.