By Carol Glatz
ROME (CNS) — The recall of a Vatican diplomat suspected
by U.S. authorities of having a connection with child pornography reflects
normal international protocol, but the suspect must be put on trial and
receive punishment if found guilty, said a key organizer of a world congress on
“Due process has to be followed. If there is a case
and if the person is found guilty, then he or she needs to be punished, whoever
that is,” said Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, head of the Pontifical Gregorian
University’s Center for Child Protection, which is hosting a world congress on
protecting minors from online abuse, violence and exploitation.
The Oct. 3-6 congress in Rome came on the heels of the
recall of Italian Msgr. Carlo Capella from the Vatican nunciature in
Washington, D.C., after the U.S. State Department notified the Holy See of his
possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images.
The Vatican said it opened an investigation, which
involved international collaboration. Police in Canada then issued a nationwide
arrest warrant Sept. 28 for the monsignor’s arrest on charges of accessing,
possessing and distributing child pornography.
Panelists introducing the congress during a news
conference Oct. 2 said its goals were to get faith communities, police,
software and social media industries, mass media, nonprofits and governments
working together to protect children from abuse in a “digital era.”
The panel was asked by Catholic News Service what the
Vatican should do to show itself as a leader in child protection, particularly
when it comes to possible crimes that involve multiple jurisdictions and when
it reportedly invoked the official’s diplomatic immunity in order to conduct
its own investigation.
Father Zollner said, “I am pretty well convinced
that this follows the normal way of diplomatic and interstate
relationships” and that the allegations were being handled similarly to
the way the United States or other nations would handle them in similar
However, he added, justice must be served and anybody
“who commits a crime needs to be punished. Period.”
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