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Vatican trial on sex abuse charges delayed as ex-archbishop hospitalized

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The trial of the onetime Vatican diplomat, Jozef Wesolowski, was suspended after he was rushed to the hospital. It's not clear what ails him, or when, or if, the trial will resume.

Jozef Wesolowski is pictured during a 2011 ceremony in Santo Domingo when he was still an archbishop and was serving as nuncio to the Dominican Republic. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found the archbishop guilty of sexual abuse of minors and has ordered that he be laicized. Photo by Orlando Barria, courtesy of Catholic News Service
Jozef Wesolowski is pictured during a 2011 ceremony in Santo Domingo when he was still an archbishop and was serving as nuncio to the Dominican Republic. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found the archbishop guilty of sexual abuse of minors and has ordered that he be laicized. Photo by Orlando Barria, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Jozef Wesolowski is pictured during a 2011 ceremony in Santo Domingo when he was still an archbishop and was serving as nuncio to the Dominican Republic. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found the archbishop guilty of sexual abuse of minors and has ordered that he be laicized. Photo by Orlando Barria, courtesy of Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The  trial of a former Polish archbishop and onetime Vatican diplomat on pedophilia and child porn charges was suspended Saturday (July 11), after Jozef Wesolowski was rushed to the hospital.

The 66-year-old former nuncio — as Vatican ambassadors are called — was living under house arrest in a room above the Vatican courtroom.

The first hearing in his trial opened briefly on Saturday morning in order for the court to hear Wesolowski had suffered a sudden illness. The ex-archbishop had been taken to the intensive care unit of a public hospital, the Vatican said in a statement.

A lawyer for the former prelate told journalists he didn’t know what ails his client.

“I saw him two or three days ago, and, given his age and his state of mind, he was fine,” said Antonello Blasi, according to The Associated Press. The lawyer told the court that Wesolowski had been “willing and able” to come to court.

Wesolowski is accused of sexually abusing boys during his five-year term in the Dominican Republic. He was recalled to the Vatican in August 2013, defrocked the following year, and later arrested on charges of molesting minors.

Wesolowski will also be tried for possessing child pornography within the walls of the Vatican, accusations that date to the time after his diplomatic post ended.

The criminal proceedings at the Vatican City’s tribunal are seen as a test case of the Holy See’s ability to tackle pedophilia within its own justice system. Wesolowski will be the first high-level official to face such charges at the Vatican, following moves by Pope Francis to tackle child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Last month the pope approved an accountability system that paves the way for bishops to be punished if they fail to protect children from abusive clerics. The Vatican has previously faced criticism for not taking action against churchmen guilty of covering up abuse.

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