ROME—Monsignor Carlo Capella, a 50-year-old priest and diplomat in the Vatican’s foreign service, allegedly uploaded child pornography from a church in Windsor, Canada, last Christmas, according to a new arrest warrant issued by Canadian authorities. The cleric currently is wanted for accessing child pornography, possessing child pornography and distributing child pornography––but he won’t face the secular charges any time soon because he is safely inside the fortified walls of Vatican City in Rome.
Capella is reported to be the same priest who was secretly swooped back to Rome last August when American authorities wanted his immunity lifted on similar charges. The Vatican will not confirm or deny his identity and would not comment on the Canadian arrest warrant, which does name the suspect. But in September, the Holy See did say it was disciplining the errant unnamed priest in house.
“The Holy See, following the practice of sovereign states, recalled the priest in question, who is currently in Vatican City,” a statement released September 15 says.
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.”
Nelson Couto of the diocese of London, Canada, which has jurisdiction over the border city of Windsor, which shares a river with Detroit, Michigan, confirmed by press release that his office was “asked to, and did, assist in an investigation around suspicions involving Msgr. Capella's possible violations of child pornography laws by using a computer address at a local Church.”
It is yet unclear whether Capella is being investigated for any role in producing the child pornography that he disseminated or whether he simply acquired and shared it online.
The charges come at a time when Pope Francis has spoken out on the matter of child abuse, promising “zero tolerance” when it comes to crimes against children. On September 21, he told members of his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors that the Church “acted too late” on the rampant clerical abuse and that perpetrators would not be forgiven. “Whoever has been condemned for the sexual abuse of minors can appeal to the pope for a pardon,” he said. “I have never signed one of these and I never will. I hope that is clear.”
“Today the person repents, he goes forward, we pardon him, but two years later he does the same,” Francis told the group, adding that “the church became aware of this too late.”
But if he really wanted to prove that he is taking a stand against clerical crimes against children, he would surely release Capella to authorities in Canada and the United States. By keeping priests like Capella in Rome to face Vatican justice, he robs the victims of their say in a secular court and of justice in the eyes of the law in their countries.