National Post (Latest Edition) - - WORLD -

VATICAN CITY A high- ranking priest work­ing in the Vatican’s em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton has been re­called af­ter U. S. pros­e­cu­tors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornog­ra­phy i nves­ti­ga­tion, Vatican and U. S. of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

The diplo­mat was sus­pected of pos­sess­ing, but not pro­duc­ing or dis­sem­i­nat­ing, child pornog­ra­phy i nclud­ing i mages of pre­pubescent chil­dren, a U. S. source said.

The Vatican de­clined to iden­tify the priest, but said he was in Vatican City and that Vatican pros­e­cu­tors had launched their own probe.

If the ac­cu­sa­tions pan out, the case would be a ma­jor em­bar­rass­ment for Pope Fran­cis, who has pledged “zero tol­er­ance” for sex­ual abuse. The diplo­mat would be the sec­ond from the Vatican’s diplo­matic corps to face pos­si­ble crim­i­nal charges for such crimes dur­ing Fran­cis’ pa­pacy. Fran­cis’ own fi­nan­cial czar, Car­di­nal Ge­orge Pell, is on trial in Aus­tralia for al­leged his­toric sex abuse cases.

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.

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