Former nuncio Wesolowski, facing sex abuse trial, dies

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.- Jozef Wesolowski, the laicized, former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic who faced criminal charges in Vatican City of possession of child pornography and pedophilic acts, has died at the age of 67.

The Holy See press office announced Aug. 28 that Wesolowski was found dead in his room at the Vatican's Collegio dei Penitenzieri in front of a TV, which was turned on, at about 5 am by a Franciscan religious.

The Vatican has said that preliminary investigations indicate he died of natural causes, but an autopsy will be performed nonetheless.

In 2013, allegations arose that then-Archbishop Wesolowski had engaged in sexual misconduct. He resigned as apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic on Aug. 21 of that year. After the printing of the original accusations, a 13-year-old boy came forward with further allegations that Wesolowski had solicited him for sexual favors in exchange for money.

In a June 2014 canonical trial, the tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty of sexual abuse. As a result, Wesolowski was laicized, a serious canonical penalty that renders one unable to celebrate the sacraments.

Following the canonical trial, Vatican City decided to also hold a criminal trial of Wesolowski. Due to his poor health, in September he was placed under house arrest rather than being jailed in Vatican City's prison.

His criminal trial was to have started July 11, but it was postponed as Wesolowski had been hospitalized the day before, and could not attend his trial.

According to reports, Wesolowski was dismissed from hospital July 17, and had since then been residing in the College of Penitentaries in the Vatican, where he was living under house arrest.

A Holy See press office statement said July 20 that Wesolowski had been hospitalized because of a fall in blood pressure brought on by heat, stress, and age.

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