Vatican Diplomat Recalled Amid Child Porn Investigation
US officials asked high-ranking priest to be charged with child porn possession
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 15, 2017 12:59 PM CDT
A priest stands outside the Vatican's embassy in Washington DC in 2015.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(Newser) – A high-ranking priest working in the Vatican's embassy in Washington has been recalled after US prosecutors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornography investigation, the AP reports. The diplomat was suspected of possessing child pornography including images of pre-pubescent children, a US source familiar with the case said. The Vatican declined to identify the priest, but said he was currently in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe and sought evidence from the US. If the accusations pan out, the case would be a major embarrassment for the Vatican and Pope Francis, who has pledged "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse. The diplomat would be the second from the Vatican's diplomatic corps to face possible criminal charges for such crimes during Francis' papacy.

The State Department said it had asked the Vatican to lift the official's diplomatic immunity on Aug. 21. It said that request was denied three days later. For the State Department to make such a request, its lawyers would have needed to be convinced that there was reasonable cause for criminal prosecution. The circumstances that prompted prosecutors to make the request, however, weren't clear. In a statement, the Vatican said the State Department had notified the Vatican on Aug. 21 of a "possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images" by one of its diplomats in Washington. The Vatican said recalling the priest was consistent with diplomatic practice of sovereign states. In declining to identify him, the Vatican said the case was subject to confidentiality while still under investigation.

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