HIGH-RANKING DIPLOMAT RECALLED FROM U.S. OVER CHILD PORN PROBE
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 investigation, Vatican and U.S. officials said Friday.
The diplomat was suspected of possessing, but not producing or disseminating, child pornography including images 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.