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World Catholic Bishop Expelled from Vatican Put Under House Arrest


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Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski a former Vatican Ambassador to the Dominican Republic has been placed under house arrest over sexual abuse of children.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday in Vatican City that Pope Francis had personally ordered swift action in the case.

He said the 65-year old former archbishop was convicted of sex abuse by a Church tribunal in June and defrocked pending further criminal proceedings.

Lombardi said the legal move was the result of the pope's express wish for a case this serious and sensitive to be dealt with without delay.

He said Wesolowski was being held under house arrest in an apartment within the same building as the criminal court.

If the case goes to trial, it will be the first sex abuse within the tiny city state.

Wesolowski's defrocking came six months after the UN children's rights watchdog highlighted his case as an example of the Vatican's failure to take concrete actions to prove its commitment to stamp out the abuse of minors by priests.

The Vatican has been accused by some critics of attempting to protect Wesolowski from Dominican jurisdiction by recalling him to Rome.

Wesolowski had been ambassador to the Dominican Republic since 2008, but was recalled by Pope Francis last August following accusations of sexually abusing minors.

He was ordained in 1972 by then archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II and was elevated to sainthood this year.

The Church has faced a decade-long series of scandals over abuse by priests and lay officials from Ireland to the U.S. and Australia.

It was fiercely condemned by the United Nations in January for failing to stamp out child abuse and allowing systematic cover-ups by simply moving around clergy suspected of raping or molesting children.

Francis has vowed to crack down on abuse in the Catholic Church, reiterating the zero-tolerance approach of his predecessor.

Last year, he overhauled Vatican law issuing a special decree declaring that sexual violence and sexual acts with children, child prostitution and child pornography were punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

In May, he warned there were "no privileges" for bishops when it came to child sex crimes and likened sexual abuse to a "Satanic mass".

At a UN hearing earlier this year, Vatican officials revealed that 3,420 abuse cases had been handled over the past decade by the Catholic Church's Canon Law prosecutors.

As a result of these cases, 848 priests were defrocked while a further 2,572 were ordered to "live a life of prayer or penance" for example in a monastery.

The Vatican says it receives around 600 claims against abusive priests every year, many dating back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

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