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Vatican diplomat recalled from USA post after child porn accusations

Vatican diplomat recalled from USA post after child porn accusations

The Associated Press reported that the State Department confirmed it had asked the Vatican to lift the official's diplomatic immunity.

The Vatican says it has recalled a priest from its diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C., and launched an investigation into allegations of child pornography. The Roman Catholic state declined to identify him, and said that the case remains subject to confidentiality while still under investigation.

As a member of the Vatican's diplomatic corps, the priest could not be prosecuted in the United States, though he could have been expelled.

The Washington Post reports that American officials presented the Vatican with evidence implicating the diplomat in a possible child pornography crime late last month, and the Vatican subsequently recalled him to the Holy See in Rome, where the church will conduct its own investigation.

The US-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said possession of child pornography was not a victimless crime because the children involved were being abused. The source was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

It is not the first time the Vatican has been forced to recall a diplomatic official.

The Vatican recalled its ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 2013 after he was accused of sexually abusing young boys.

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The priest will likely face a canonical proceeding, overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a criminal trial overseen by the courts of the Vatican City State.

The Vatican's treasurer Cardinal George Pell is facing trial in his native Australia for alleged historic sex abuse cases.

"We hope the Holy See will be forthcoming with more details", Bishop Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement.

"We reaffirm that when such allegations occur, an immediate, thorough and transparent investigation should begin in cooperation with law enforcement and immediate steps be taken to protect children", DiNardo said in a statement.

That's a little more lenient USA sentencing guidelines for similar offenses, depending on the circumstances. Possession carries a possible jail term of up to two years and a 10,000-euro fine. A trafficking conviction would get five to 20 years. The promoter of justice is the Vatican's chief prosecutor.

According to Article 4 of Law 8 of the Vatican City State, which was instituted by Pope Francis in 2013, child pornography is defined as "any representation, by whatever means, of a minor engaged in real of simulated explicit sexual activities as well as any representation of the sexual parts of a minor for primarily sexual purposes".