For­mer Vat­i­can diplo­mat to Washington faces trial June 22 on child porn charges

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - WEATHER DESK - By The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — A Catholic priest who once was one of the church’s top diplo­mats in Washington was in­dicted by the Vat­i­can on ac­cu­sa­tions of pos­sess­ing and shar­ing “a large quan­tity” of child pornog­ra­phy.

In a state­ment ob­tained by Reuters, the Vat­i­can said Mon­signor Carlo Capella would face a trial start­ing June 22. He is be­ing held in a cell in the Vat­i­can’s po­lice bar­racks.

Au­thor­i­ties in the U.S. and Canada had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing Capella for nearly two years. Cana­dian po­lice said the priest al­legedly up­loaded child porn from a so­cial net­work­ing site over the 2016 Christ­mas hol­i­day.

In Au­gust, the U.S. State Depart­ment no­ti­fied the Vat­i­can of a “pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tion of laws re­la­tion to child pornog­ra­phy images” by a diplo­mat.

Soon af­ter, the Vat­i­can re­called Capella, who as a diplo­mat was one of four staff mem­bers who had im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion in the U.S.; the Vat­i­can de­nied U.S. ef­forts to have Capella pros­e­cuted in an Amer­i­can court.

The 50-year-old has had a wide-rang­ing ca­reer in the church that brought him to the U.S. only this past year. Born in the town of Carpi in North­ern Italy, he was or­dained as a priest in 1993, pur­sued a de­gree in canon law and then en­tered the Vat­i­can’s corps of diplo­mats in 2004, ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

In that role, he was posted in In­dia and then Hong Kong be­fore an­other stint at the Vat­i­can.

In 2008, ac­cord­ing to a doc­u­ment from the Arch­dio­cese of Milan, Pope Bene­dict XVI con­ferred the rank of “Chap­lain of His Ho­li­ness” on Capella — a recognition of ser­vice to the church that be­stowed on him the ti­tle of mon­signor.

In Vat­i­can City, Capella could face con­se­quences in two dis­ci­plinary sys­tems: Un­der church law, he could be de­frocked as a priest, and un­der civil law in the Holy See, which is also an in­de­pen­dent na­tion, he could face crim­i­nal penal­ties.

The city-state’s crim­i­nal law says peo­ple con­victed of pos­sess­ing child pornog­ra­phy face up to two years in prison and $12,000 in fines, and those con­victed of pro­duc­ing or dis­tribut­ing the images face steeper penal­ties.

The ar­rest is an­other blow for the church, which has faced abuse scan­dals for decades. The Vat­i­can has a zero-tol­er­ance vow on child sex­ual abuse, but crit­ics have ac­cused Pope Fran­cis of not do­ing enough.

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