The Vatican has recalled its envoy to the Dominican Republic and launched an investigation after local media accused him of sexually abusing children.
According to the New York Times, authorities in the Dominican Republic said they would look into rumors of child sexual abuse involving the papal envoy there after he was abruptly removed from his post by the Vatican.
The nation’s attorney general, Francisco Domínguez Brito, said Wednesday that his office had not received any accusations about the papal nuncio, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, and was aware only of rumors.
A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that Wesolowski had been removed from his post a few weeks ago and that the church was conducting an investigation of him. He declined to provide any further details, the New York Times reported.
According to the BBC, Wesolowski had been the apostolic nuncio in Santo Domingo for nearly six years.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told the Reuters news agency Wesolowski had been “relieved of his duties” and the Holy See had “begun an investigation”.
Wesolowski had been recalled “in the last few weeks”, he added, but gave no further details about the allegations, Reuters reported.
The current whereabouts of the 65-year-old Polish prelate are unknown.
Following his election in March, Pope Francis said dealing with sex abuse allegations was vital to the Roman Catholic Church’s credibility.
In July, he strengthened laws that apply to clerics and lay people working in the Vatican – broadening out the definition of crimes against minors to include child prostitution, sexual violence, sexual acts with children, and indecent images of children, according to Reuters.