Vatican arrests ex-envoy Wesolowski over child abuse

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image captionJozef Wesolowski is the highest ranking Vatican official to face abuse charges

The Vatican has placed its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, under house arrest on charges of sexually abusing children.

The former archbishop was defrocked in June after a Church tribunal found him guilty of abusing Dominican boys.

He will now be tried by a Vatican criminal court, becoming its highest official to face abuse charges there.

Wesolowski, who is originally from Poland, served as a papal envoy to the Dominican Republic for five years.

A Vatican spokesman said the arrest reflected Pope Francis's wish "that such a grave and delicate case be handled without delay, with the just and necessary rigour".

Pope Francis has pledged a crackdown on clerics and employees of the Church who exploit minors, comparing their actions to a "satanic mass".

Last year, he strengthened the Vatican's laws against child abuse.

The Vatican spokesman said the decision to place Wesolowski under house arrest, rather than hold him in a police cell, was taken on account of his health.

Wesolowski is expected to go on trial later this year.

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