WASHINGTON: Vatican Recalls Diplomat Priest, Refuses To Lift Immunity On Child Porn Possession Charges

The Associated Press reports:

A high-ranking priest working in the Vatican’s embassy in Washington has been recalled after U.S. prosecutors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornography investigation, Vatican and U.S. officials said Friday.

The diplomat was suspected of possessing, but not producing or disseminating, child pornography including images of pre-pubescent children, a U.S. source familiar with the case said. The source was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Vatican declined to identify the priest, but said he was currently in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe and sought evidence from the U.S. A U.S. official familiar with the case said the priest was a senior member of the Vatican embassy staff. The Vatican yearbook lists three counselors who work under the nuncio, or ambassador.

More from The Guardian:

The US state department notified the Holy See last month of a possible violation of laws. American prosecutors said they wanted the Vatican to voluntarily lift the official’s diplomatic immunity so that he could face charges, according to several reports, but the Vatican refused. The request was made on 21 August.

The Vatican said an investigation had been opened and the church was seeking “international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case”, and it would be handled confidentially on a preliminary basis. It said the priest had already returned to Vatican City. The Vatican said its decision to recall the priest was in line with normal diplomatic practices.