September 4, 2013 / 9:06 PM / 6 years ago

Vatican recalls Dominican Republic envoy over pedophilia accusations

Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, offers mass in Santo Domingo August 3, 2009. The Vatican has recalled Wesolowski, who has been in the Dominican Republic for nearly six years, and relieved him of his duties pending an investigation, after local media accused him of paedophilia, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on September 4, 2013. Picture taken August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Luis Gomez/Diario Libre

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican has recalled its ambassador to the Dominican Republic and relieved him of his duties pending an investigation, after local media accused him of pedophilia, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Reuters that the Holy See had started an investigation into Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, who has been nuncio (ambassador) in Santo Domingo for nearly six years.

“He has been recalled. He has been relieved of his duties and the Holy See has begun an investigation,” Lombardi said when asked about allegations against Wesolowski in the local media.

Lombardi said Wesolowski was recalled “in the last few weeks” specifically over the pedophilia accusations.

Wesolowski could not be reached for comment on his recall.

Several weeks after his election in March as the first non-European Pope in 1,300 years, Francis said he wanted the Catholic Church to “act decisively” to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure the perpetrators are punished.

Additional reporting by Manuel Jimenez in Santo Domingo and David Adams in Miami; Editing by Jon Boyle

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