I hoped that Pope Francis was the real deal, that he was the true enemy of predatory capitalism, the true champion of poor people. But it seems that he's just another protector of predators.
From Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times comes this shocker graphically detailing the unspeakable crimes of one of the pope's own high-ranking personal envoys:
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — He was a familiar figure to the skinny shoeshine boys who work along the oceanfront promenade here. Wearing black track pants and a baseball cap pulled low over his balding head, they say, he would stroll along in the late afternoon and bring one of them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero.
The boys say he gave them money to perform sexual acts. They called him “the Italian” because he spoke Spanish with an Italian accent.
It was only after he was spirited out of the country, the boys say, his picture splashed all over the local news media, that they learned his real identity: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
“He definitely seduced me with money,” said Francis Aquino Aneury, who says he was 14 when the man he met shining shoes began offering him increasingly larger sums for sexual acts. “I felt very bad. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I needed the money.”So much for the new pope's new "zero tolerance" child abuse policy. Maybe we misunderstood. Maybe it only applies to run of the mill parish priests and not to important diplomats wearing golden mitres. For, instead of leaving the privileged predator at the scene of his own crimes to be dealt with by the local justice system, the plutocratic pedophile was safely spirited out of one of the poorest places on earth to the safe haven of the Holy See. Wesolowski has actually been spotted wandering around the neighborhood, defrocked of his priestly garb yet still free to prey (and pray.)
The Vatican says that because Mr. Wesolowski was a member of its diplomatic corps and a citizen of the Holy See, the case would be handled in Rome. But even many faithful Catholics in this nation, home to the oldest Catholic cathedral in the Americas, say they are unsettled that a Vatican official could have been using children for sex, yet was not arrested and tried in their own country.
“From the pure standpoint of justice, he should be tried in the country where the acts took place because the conditions for trying him will not be the same elsewhere,” said Antonio Medina Calcaño, dean of the faculty of law and political science of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. “But all we can do is hope that the courts in the Vatican will treat this with the severity that it really deserves.”Goodstein's article goes on to recount, in gruesome detail, just what Wesolowski allegedly did to the impoverished children of the Dominican Republic. In the worst case, the papal nuncio actually seduced one of his young victims with the promise of anti-seizure medication for his untreated epilepsy -- but only if the child did what he was told.
When a Santo Domingo TV station was tipped off about him, the Vatican bigwig simply enlisted another priest to act as his procurer. That priest has since been thrown in jail, apparently ranking too low to be "spirited" out of the country.
Meanwhile, although there are "indications from Rome" that the pope is concerned about the case, he has apparently not seen fit to strip Wesolowski of his diplomatic immunity and thus allow his extradition back to either the Dominican Republic or to his native Poland, where he is also wanted for questioning.
When the nuncio was recalled last fall, the Vatican at first even denied that the move had anything to do with child abuse allegations. He was officially convicted in June. The Vatican also refused to divulge how he answered the charges against him or if he will suffer any penalty besides being stripped of his finery:
UNICEF reports that half of all Dominican children live in poverty, thus making the island (Hispaniola) shared with Haiti a magnet for predators -- be they child molesters, drug cartels, or multinational corporations. In a place where the economy and business are booming while children are starving and going without food and medicine, your average slimeball can rest assured that it's a go-to paradise for all manner of mayhem. It's a country where income disparity is extreme and where there has been a long sordid history of government corruption. But even a banana republic's criminal justice system seems to take child sex abuse more seriously than the Vatican.
Suffer the little children, indeed.