McGuire Megna Attorneys, An Association of Professionals

Pope Francis Has to Turn Over Priest Hiding in Vatican

Pope Francis Has to Turn Over Priest Hiding in Vatican

A 50-year-old Vatican diplomat priest is hiding in the Vatican.  He is wanted on child pornography charges in the United States as well as Canada.  Both countries have issued warrants for his arrest.  When the US issued the warrant, he fled to the safe haven of the Vatican where he is immune and safe from criminal prosecution.

According to law enforcement, the priest downloaded child pornography while in the USA and Canada.  Last August, US law enforcement got the tip about Monsignor Carlo Capella and issued a warrant for his arrest.  Canadian authorities did the same around Christmas when he was visiting a Catholic parish in Windsor Ontario and downloaded child porn again.

According to the Canadian arrest warrant, “Investigators believe that the offenses occurred while the suspect was visiting a place of worship in Windsor. Investigators have determined that the suspect has returned to his residence in Italy.”

The Windsor Police Service Internet Child Exploitation Unit says it received a tip in February of this year from the National Child Coordination Center of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that a crime against children had been committed when someone used a social networking website to upload child pornography from church property in Windsor over the Christmas period.

The police were then given access to internet service providers’ logs and church records to determine who could have uploaded the criminal material. All trails led to Capella, who had visited the church for the Christmas period.  “The investigation determined that the alleged offenses occurred between Dec. 24-27, 2016,” at a Windsor church.”

The Vatican is a sovereign state and Capella can’t be touched unless he leaves the Vatican or is forced to do so by Vatican authorities.

This is where we’ll see if Pope Francis’ actions equal his tough talk on child sex abuse.  On September 21st when he spoke to his own Commission for the Protection of Minors and admitted the church had made grave errors in handling sex abuse cases and now he understood and supported a zero tolerance policy.  Now Francis has the opportunity to act and put his words into action.  Will he act and do the right thing?  History tells us no he won’t act.  He’ll cite diplomatic immunity (Capella is a career diplomat besides being a priest) and the sovereignty of the Vatican city-state.  He may even come up with more novel excuses but the facts will remain the same.  He won’t move the priest and allow him to be arrested.

The crimes with which the priest is charged in both countries are serious-accessing child pornography on the Internet.  He needs to be held accountable and answer those charges in courts of law.  The Vatican issued a statement that the “priest in question” was being “disciplined” internally.  That’s not how civil societies handle crimes.  How can the Pope claim to speak for social justice and not allow the criminal justice system to work?

If he fails in this regard, he has no moral authority whatsoever.  Talk is cheap.  It’s time to act.  He has the power to turn over this priest to US and Canadian authorities.  Pope Francis turn over this priest now!

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