Lawyer says Vatican diplomat wanted for child porn offences should be sent back to Canada
'If Pope Francis has been nothing but a PR exercise this will prove it'
A London, Ont. lawyer says it's time for the Vatican to "put its money where its mouth is" and send Monsignor Carlo Capella back to Canada where he faces child pornography charges.
"If Pope Francis has been nothing but a PR exercise this will prove it," said Robert Talach with Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers.
Reports in American media state Capella, a high-ranking Catholic priest, was recalled to the Vatican after rumours U.S. authorities were planning to charge him with possession of child pornography began to swirl earlier this month.
On Thursday, Windsor police issued a Canada-wide warrant alleging a 50-year-old man named Carlo Capella committed child pornography offences at an area church during the Christmas holidays.
He is wanted for accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.
The Diocese of London has confirmed it assisted in an "investigation around suspicions involving Msgr. Capella's possible violations of child pornography laws by using a computer address at a local Church," according to spokesperson Nelson Couto.
A Sept. 15 statement from the Vatican explains a "member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See" who was working in Washington was brought back to the city where the "Promoter of Justice opened an investigation and has already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case."
Talach said the role of the London Diocese should stretch beyond assisting with the investigation.
"It should be making demands of the Vatican to send this guy back to face the music," he said.
He should be sent back for prosecution. Period. - Robert Talach, Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers
When questioned about whether or not the diocese had contacted the church in Rome about Capella and requested he be returned to Canada, Couto said: "The Diocese of London can't comment on the Vatican investigation."
The Vatican hasn't commented beyond its initial statement, or even officially identified Capella as the recalled diplomat. Several U.S. church officials have complained that the Vatican was being less than transparent about the case.
The diplomat's recall comes ahead of an international conference next week at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on protecting children from online sexual exploitation, pornography and abuse.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state and Capella's boss, is set to deliver the keynote speech Tuesday on "The Holy See and its commitment to combating sex abuse online."
Panelists at the conference, which was organized months ago, are to include top law enforcement and academic experts in the field of child protection and cybercrimes, with an entire morning devoted to "Child Sexual Abuse Online: Who are the offenders?"
Vatican has protected priests before
Talach, whose specialties include cases involving sexual abuse by the clergy, said the fact Capella was whisked away by the church shouldn't come as a shock.
"I'm probably the least-surprised person in the world right now," he said. "There are lots of examples of hiding either offenders or people under investigation within the walls of the Vatican."
Talach cited Bernard Prince, a Canadian priest who was promoted to a top Vatican position despite sexual abuse allegations, as an example of the church's efforts to protect itself from scandal. Prince was living in the Vatican when accusations of abuse began to circulate, but he was eventually sent back to Canada, where he was convicted in 2008 of sexually abusing more than a dozen boys over a 20-year period.
He was defrocked by the Catholic Church in 2009.
"He was able to live and work and take refuge within the Vatican for a number of years," said Talach, adding the same luxury shouldn't be available to Capella.
"He's wanted in a criminal matter involving children and he should be sent back for prosecution. Period."
- A previous version of this story stated that Monsignor Carlo Capella would be part of a conference in Rome next week about protecting children from online sexual exploitation, pornography and abuse. In fact, he was never involved with or invited to the conference.
Sep 30, 2017 9:26 AM ET