Vatican's UN Ambassador Monsignor Silvano Tomasi (L), speaks with Former Vatican Chief Prosecutor of Clerical Sexual Abuse Charles Scicluna (R), prior to the start of a questioning over clerical sexual abuse of children at the headquarters of the UN's office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the Palais Wilson, in Geneva, 16 January: photo - EPA/MARTIAL TREZZINI
Archbishop Tomasi told the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Thursday, that the Vatican announced last week it would not be extraditing Jozef Wesolowski, a former Vatican representative in the Dominican Republic, back to the Caribbean island, or to Poland, to face the charges against him because he was a citizen of the Vatican and will face charges there following an investigation into the case.
"A citizen of Vatican City State has been placed under investigation for alleged sexual crimes committed against children outside the territory of Vatican City State," Archbishop Tomasi told the committee, adding that the case would be handled "with the severity it deserves."
Vatican officials faced a grilling in front of the committee, which was hearing annual reports by nations who had signed the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child, the Catholic News Agency reports,
The Vatican signed the convention in 1990 but from 1994 to 2012 presented no annual progress reports on tackling child abuse to the committee, despite numerous investigations of alleged child abuse by clergy, often dating back decades, in the US, Ireland, Germany and elsewhere.
Last year it emerged that Archbishop Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador in the Dominican Republic, was being investigated by police after children had come forward alleging they had been abused by the priest.
Wesolowski, the highest-ranking Vatican official to be investigated for alleged sex abuse, is now thought to be living in Rome and is protected from extradition by diplomatic immunity.
Another Polish priest working in the Dominican Republic, Father Wojciech Gil, is also under investigation for abusing minors there.
Gil left the island in May last year and re-emerged at his family home in southern Poland, where Polish police are investigating the allegations against him. (pg)