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