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UPDATED: 10:02 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 26

The Vatican moved its top diplomat out of the Dominican Republic because of sex-abuse complaints, failed to tell criminal authorities and then harbored him in Rome as his list of accusers grew.

The case, reported Sunday by The New York Times, underscores findings from our landmark 2004-2005 investigation into the Catholic Church’s global transfers of predator priests.

In “Runaway Priests: Hiding in Plaint Sight,” we found several accused clergy who fled to Rome with their superiors’ help. At least two were fugitives from criminal charges.

Another priest we featured was also a diplomat, an American who had been the Vatican’s No. 2 official in India. A top aide to Pope John Paul II was warned in the 1990s that the priest had abused an Ohio girl. But the priest remained on duty until around the time of our inquiries in 2003.

Pope Francis has vowed greater accountability in addressing the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse crisis since taking over. Earlier this year, he begged victims for forgiveness.

Yet Pope Francis was alerted to the Dominican Republic diplomat’s misconduct before the secret transfer last August, authorities told The Times. The allegations should have been reported to police, according to Vatican rules.

The only way the diplomat could face charges in the Dominican Republic now is if the Vatican, an independent city-state, agrees to return him.

UPDATE: The Vatican announced Monday that its former Dominican Republic diplomat, Josef Wesolowski, has lost his immunity and could be tried in local courts.

On the continuation of this post, I’ve republished some of our stories showing Rome’s involvement in international transfers of abusers.

Vatican elevated abusive Ohio priest 

Warnings didn’t deter rise through Catholic diplomatic corps


Saturday, August 30, 2003

The Vatican promoted a U.S. priest through its international diplomatic corps despite high-level warnings in the 1990s that he had sexually abused a girl, according to interviews and records.

The case is believed to be the first in which the Vatican has been found harboring an abuser in its ranks. In a message to American Catholic leaders during last year’s abuse crisis, Pope John Paul II said: “There is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young.”

Daniel Pater

Alerts about Monsignor Daniel Pater went to the Vatican from his home Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a former official at an elite seminary in Rome. That official told The Dallas Morning News that nothing happened after he twice spoke with Bishop James M. Harvey, a friend who was a longtime Vatican state department executive and now heads the pope’s personal staff.

Bishop Harvey acknowledged Friday that he had known “there’d been some problems” with the American priest but said that he hadn’t known details and was not in a position to affect the priest’s career.

“I presumed everything was OK, that there wasn’t anything to it or the accusations were false,” the bishop said in a telephone interview from Rome. “I just presumed that when he continued, that everything was OK.”

In fact, a lawsuit against Monsignor Pater had ended with a confidential payment to his accuser in 1995 and the priest’s stay in a treatment center. Monsignor Pater said in a brief interview Friday that he had recently quit his Vatican job and was “very sorry for what happened.”

At the time of his resignation, he was the Vatican’s No. 2 diplomat in India. He is now visiting family in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, where he abused a young parishioner before joining the Vatican’s foreign service in the early 1980s.

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Tricia Hempel said Monsignor Pater acknowledged the abuse when first confronted about a decade ago. “The Vatican knew the status of the case,” she said.

Ms. Hempel said Monsignor Pater, 50, remains a priest in good standing, even though U.S. bishops passed a one-strike-and-you’re-out policy last year in Dallas. His eligibility for ministry will be decided later this year by a local review board and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, she said.

Bishop Harvey said that he had never spoken about Monsignor Pater with the pope, who is on vacation outside his residence, and that he might not have the opportunity to talk with him about the situation in the future.

“It’s not like we chitchat a lot or he asks me how things are going in the United States,” said the bishop, who hails from Milwaukee but has worked in Rome for about 20 years. “Even though I see the pope, it’s not like he would ask me about this, nor would I … discuss someone else who works for the Vatican if I wasn’t asked.”

Bishop Harvey has been head of the papal household for five years. In elevating him to that post and ordaining him a bishop in 1998, the pope referred to him as “dear Monsignor James Harvey … for many years my faithful collaborator.”

Powerful position

The bishop is one of the most powerful Americans at the Vatican and one of the few people of any nationality with daily access to the pope. He handles requests for meetings with the pope, arranges his appearances, accompanies him in public and escorts high-level visitors through the Vatican.

Those guests have included President Bush, who told the pope last year that he was concerned about the church’s standing in light of the abuse scandal. Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, whose protection of abusive priests became worldwide news, stayed in Bishop Harvey’s residence in December before resigning.

The bishop said Friday that Monsignor Pater is the first Vatican employee he knows of to be credibly accused of abuse.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a military chaplain in Germany who formerly worked in the Vatican’s U.S. embassy, said he believes this is merely the first such case to become public.

He called the situation “profound and shattering, because this connects several dots: A. They did know. B. They kept it covered. C. They didn’t act on their own requirements for the United States. In other words, they violated their own code of ethics, their own procedures.”

Father Doyle, who wrote a report nearly 20 years ago warning U.S. bishops that a massive abuse crisis was brewing, said Friday that Bishop Harvey “is up at the top of the heap. They could have easily said, ‘This is scandalous.’ They took a major risk that this would be discovered.”

Bishop Harvey said that Monsignor Pater’s resignation was appropriate “just to avoid any kind of hint of scandal. You want your officers beyond reproach.”

The bishop said the priest was not a particularly public figure.

“He’s really functioning as a secretary in a closed environment,” he said. “It’s not that he’d be posing a danger.”

Chapels in embassies

Vatican embassies typically have chapels at which cleric-diplomats celebrate Mass. Workers at the embassy in the Indian capital of New Delhi, where Monsignor Pater worked, said their chapel is open to the public.

Ms. Hempel, the Cincinnati Archdiocese spokeswoman, said his supervisors overseas “would certainly know” that he should not work with children.

The man who alerted Bishop Harvey about the Pater case is the Rev. Lawrence Breslin, pastor of the Cincinnati Archdiocese church where the abuse had taken place. He formerly was a top official of the Pontifical North American College, a seminary in Rome to which U.S. bishops send some of their most promising priest candidates.

Monsignor Breslin said he first told his friend about the matter in 1995. Bishop Harvey, he said, responded that higher-ranking officials in the Vatican state department knew the priest “had some problems in the states, and it’d pass over.”

“I told this man, ‘It’s not going to pass over,’ ” Monsignor Breslin said.

He recalled that during their second conversation, in 1999, Bishop Harvey said one restriction had been placed on Monsignor Pater because of the abuse: He would never be promoted to an ambassador post.

“I wasn’t surprised, but I think they should have sidelined him,” said Monsignor Breslin, who has publicly criticized his own archbishop’s handling of other abuse cases in the Cincinnati area. “He’d almost have to murder somebody.

“That’s the Vatican,” he added. “It’s hard to get fired over there.”

Bishop Harvey said he did not remember many details of his talks with Monsignor Breslin.

In 1979, Monsignor Pater was a newly ordained priest starting his first job at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Kettering, Ohio, a Dayton suburb.

There, he met a 13-year-old girl, who is now a woman in her mid-30s still coping with what happened in her childhood and frustrated with the way the church hierarchy has dealt with the priest she once revered.

Monsignor Pater, she said, sometimes saw her in the neighborhood and offered an occasional glass of lemonade or ride home. Then, in 1980, a family tragedy brought him more directly into her life.

One of her older brothers was killed when he rode his bicycle through a stop sign and was struck by a car. Several clergy members stepped in to console the family, but it was Monsignor Pater, she said, who focused on her.

Counseling sessions, the woman said, opened the door to hugging, kissing, playful wrestling and finally, when she was 14, molestation – at the parish rectory, at the archdiocese’s Alter High School and in a parked car. Sometimes, she said, the encounters happened after he gave her wine at dinner.

Monsignor Pater told her not to reveal what was happening, the woman said, and assured her that his sexual advances were proper in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

The woman’s mother said that at the time she had few reasons to be suspicious of the priest, who frequented the family’s house and once told her husband, “I feel like you’re my dad.”

“He really worked his way in,” the mother said. “It was an honor to have a friend who’s a priest. We knew he was slated for bigger and bigger things. My husband and I said, ‘We might be visiting the Vatican later.’ ”

Joined academy

In 1982, Monsignor Pater embarked on his career in the Vatican. He joined a small number of Americans invited into the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, which has trained the Vatican’s diplomatic corps and has produced five popes.

Back home on a visit, he wrote this note, dated Oct. 1, 1982, in the girl’s high school yearbook: “My best and closest friend during my time at Saint Charles. I hope that this love and understanding lasts into the years.”

While in Vatican City, Monsignor Pater took an interest in church archaeological sites and architecture. He was so knowledgeable that he was picked to give National Geographic a tour of the Vatican grounds.

In the magazine’s 1985 article, Monsignor Pater was asked about his fellow diplomatic students: “They are people I like. I can live among them without keeping up my defenses.”

On his trips back to the United States, he would meet the girl and have sex with her, she said. This continued into the early 1990s, after she’d become a young adult – and after Monsignor Pater had begun his diplomatic service, in Australia and then Zaire (now the Congo).

Monsignor Pater sometimes bragged about a benefit of his Vatican job, the woman said. “He used to tell me if he got a speeding ticket, he wouldn’t have to pay because he had diplomatic immunity, and no one could touch him,” she said.

As Monsignor Pater moved up through the diplomatic ranks, the woman’s personal life was crashing. She said she was drinking heavily to cope with the effects of the abuse and entered therapy.

In the fall of 1992, after years of silence, she began confiding in the Rev. Tom Stricker, whom she had met at a school where she was teaching. He told The News that he became convinced that “she was telling me the truth” and urged her to report the matter to the archdiocese, which she did. Archdiocese officials said this was the first and only complaint they received about Monsignor Pater.

Mr. Stricker said he later quit working for the Cincinnati Archdiocese, in part because of its handling of the case.

The woman met with the archdiocese’s priest personnel director at the time, Ken Czillinger, who has since left the priesthood. He, too, told The News that he found her “to be a very credible person.”

From there, the woman said, she encountered resistance. In a meeting with an archdiocesan investigative panel, she felt humiliated and left before it was over.

“The questions they were asking me made it seem like it wasn’t his fault,” she said. “I didn’t feel safe in that environment.”

Words about abuse

Monsignor Pater kept his collar even though the archdiocese’s leader, Archbishop Pilarczyk, had declared earlier in 1992 that one case “of a priest sexually abusing one child is one too many.”

“Far more aggressive steps are needed to protect the innocent, treat the perpetrator and safeguard our children,” he said at a meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which he was president. “Action is what matters most.”

In the summer of 1993, the woman sued Monsignor Pater, archdiocesan officials, the parish and her high school. All defendants except Monsignor Pater were eventually dismissed.

For a brief time, the priest’s career slowed. He was placed on administrative leave, left Zaire and underwent treatment at St. Luke Institute in Maryland, to which abusive clergymen from around the globe have gone. It deemed him fit for ministry and not a threat to children, the archdiocese spokeswoman said.

Monsignor Pater was back in Africa by 1994. In court filings, the woman’s attorneys accused him of refusing to return to answer questions in a deposition.

His lawyers said Monsignor Pater was “out of the country pursuant to assignment by church authorities” but was willing to be deposed in Zaire, a country they described as “fraught with social and political unrest.”

Sanctioned by judge

A judge sanctioned Monsignor Pater for missing the deposition and refused to accept additional statements from him. The judge noted that the priest’s departure from the country kept the court from ordering him to appear.

The suit dragged through the following year before the sides agreed to a confidential financial settlement. Monsignor Pater paid the bulk, records show.

Through it all, the woman said, no one in the archdiocese offered her an apology, which was what she wanted in the first place: “They said it wasn’t part of the lawsuit.”

By 1997, Monsignor Pater had earned a promotion, becoming second in command at the Vatican Embassy in Turkey.

Back in Ohio, the woman said she lost track of his whereabouts until recently. While on the Internet, she discovered that he had moved on to the Vatican Embassy in India and served, temporarily, as the ambassador.

Monsignor Pater, reached at a family member’s home outside Cincinnati, was asked if he had resigned as a diplomat because of the abuse case.

“It’s just – considering what’s been going on,” he said. “I’m very sorry for what happened. I can’t do anything about that now. I don’t want to keep anybody in any discomfort or embarrassment.”

The priest said he wouldn’t answer further questions, then hung up.

His victim said she had long felt that Cincinnati Archdiocese leaders were failing to remove abusive priests.

“But I still had faith in the Vatican,” the woman said. Now “it seems like it’s not happening from the very top position down.”


Priests facing sex-abuse charges protected in shadow of Vatican

By Reese Dunklin
September 12, 2004

ROME — Pope John Paul II summoned U.S. cardinals to the Vatican two years ago, at the height of the church’s sex abuse crisis, and made a stirring pronouncement.

“People need to know,” he stressed to them, “that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.”

Yet today, one block from the Vatican, a fugitive priest lives in a church building with rooftop views of St. Peter’s Basilica and the pope’s apartment.

The Rev. Joseph Henn’s superiors have let him stay with them, even though they say he has refused their instructions to go back to Phoenix and face charges that he molested three boys.

A short cab ride north, the Rev. Barry Bossa, an ex-con and fugitive, has found similar sanctuary in a leafy neighborhood of sidewalk cafes and low-rise apartments. His religious bosses hastily moved him out of the United States two years ago as his criminal record and new allegations began to emerge.

Here in the heart of Catholicism, church leaders are giving refuge to priests who face allegations of sexual abuse in other countries.

The Dallas Morning News located the men — some of them admitted abusers — as part of a yearlong investigation into the global movements of accused priests.

Some are stationed in the comfort of their religious orders’ world headquarters. One strolls by St. Peter’s Square en route to his job. Another leads English-language tours at ancient church burial grounds. And until recently, one man was serving his house arrest across the street from the Vatican. The priests would not discuss their cases at length. Their supervisors said they did not assign the men to Rome to help them elude law enforcement or victims. The goal, they said, was to give the priests a place to live and work away from children.

“It’s not the worst place in the world; that’s true,” said the Rev. Michael Higgins, the Passionist order’s American leader. Last year, he sent to Rome a priest who had been investigated, but not prosecuted, on abuse claims. “But it’s not a reward.”

A former top administrator at a Catholic college near the Vatican said placing accused and even fugitive priests in Rome was “very detrimental” — especially at a time when the church is trying to restore its battered image.

“I don’t think they understand taking those people over there is a scandal,” said the Rev. Lawrence Breslin, a retired priest who was the second-in-command at Pontifical North American College. “Rome is the center of the church. People see it as a holy place. It is not a place for harboring criminals.”

Several of the priests’ superiors said they did not notify the Diocese of Rome about the men and were not obligated to do so because they were not staffing parishes. The bishop of the diocese is Pope John Paul II.

Of the seven accused priests The News located in Rome, Henn was the only one registered at the diocese’s offices, according to the Rev. Marco Fibbi, a diocesan spokesman. Neither Fibbi nor Henn’s bosses would say whether the diocese was told about the criminal charges, which were filed after Henn arrived.

Fibbi referred further questions to the pope’s chief Vatican spokesman even though none of the seven priests live within Vatican City. Joaquin Navarro-Valls did not respond to interview requests.

Navarro-Valls previously declined to comment on The News’ investigation, which found more than 200 accused priests, brothers and other Catholic workers hiding across international borders and living in unsuspecting communities, often with the church’s support. About 30 of the men were wanted by law enforcement in another country.

Joseph Henn inside his religious order’s Rome headquarters. (Mona Reeder/The Dallas Morning News)

Prosecutors filed charges against Father Henn and Father Bossa last year and have asked the U.S. government to seek their extradition from Italy. State Department and Italian officials would not comment on the status of the requests. The two countries generally cooperate on extradition matters, but the process can take years nonetheless.

One of those prosecutors, Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley of Arizona, was rebuffed last year when he asked the Vatican to use its authority to order two other fugitive priests to surrender. They had fled Phoenix for Mexico and Ireland.

The prosecutor’s letter to the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, was sent back resealed, along with a note: “The item, here enclosed, is returned to the sender because refused by the rightful addressee.” Romley said he saw no point in writing the Vatican when Henn was indicted about a month later.

“Clearly there are formal charges here,” said Romley, who was raised a Catholic. “They (priests) give a vow of obedience. It seems like it is real easy to say, ‘You shall return, and if not, we defrock you.’.”

President Bush’s chief representative to the Vatican — the only religious institution recognized as a sovereign nation — refused to comment on its handling of clergy abuse matters. Ambassador Jim Nicholson “does not comment on church business,” his spokeswoman said.

The president told the pope during the 2002 scandal that he was “concerned about the Catholic Church in America” but appreciated John Paul’s leadership.

* * *

Despite the pope’s tough talk, the Vatican has moved slowly in dealing with a scandal that has cost the church hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to victims and led to the resignations of several bishops who sheltered priests.

Shortly after the pope met with the cardinals in spring 2002, leaders of the U.S. church gathered in Dallas and passed an aggressive “zero tolerance” policy for molesters.

But the Vatican balked, saying several parts of the policy were not in line with church law, and ordered changes. Among them: imposing a deadline for complaints, which in effect allows many abusers to go unpunished.

Even after Rome and the U.S. bishops hashed out the policy’s details, the Vatican continued to employ an acknowledged abuser as a foreign diplomat.

The Vatican had promoted the Rev. Daniel Pater despite his 1995 financial settlement with an Ohio victim and two warnings from Monsignor Breslin. Then in late 2002, it moved him up again, this time to temporarily run the papal embassy in India. He stepped down last year, as The News was preparing a story about the case.

And the Vatican has kept former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, the U.S. church leader most associated with protecting priests, on several decision-making panels and recently gave him a job leading a historic Roman basilica.

“There is this gulf between saying the right thing but not appropriately following through with the right actions,” said Brother Barry Coldrey of Australia, a church historian who has written extensively about clergy abuse.

Four years ago, the Vatican made Coldrey, a member of the Christian Brothers order, remove from the Internet his book, “Religious Life Without Integrity: The Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church.” A Vatican letter to Coldrey said: “We question the prudence of publishing such a document.”

“The response should be cleanup,” Coldrey said, “but it is still all too often cover-up.”

In 2004, Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to the late father Marcial Maciel, the founder of Legionaries of Christ order. Maciel had long been accused of abuse. (Associated Press)

The Vatican has long refused to address why it has not acted on numerous abuse complaints made against a close ally of the pope, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, the revered founder and leader of the Legion of Christ order in Rome.

Two of his nine accusers appealed several times to the Vatican in the 1970s and 1980s, with no results.

The Vatican finally agreed in 1999 to review the alleged incidents, which the men said happened in Spain and Italy when they were young boys and seminarians. But a few months later, the Vatican mysteriously suspended the inquiry without ever taking testimony from the men, according to “Vows of Silence,” a new book by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, investigative journalists who first reported the Maciel saga.

Alberto Athie, a former priest who had worked at a charity run by Mexico’s bishops, told The News that his career stalled after he notified Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera and Vatican Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger about the allegations against Father Maciel. The cardinals wouldn’t comment.

“I was told that Maciel was very beloved of the pope, that he had done a lot of good for the church, and that it wasn’t convenient to do anything to look into the accusations,” said Athie, who subsequently quit the priesthood.

Maciel, who has repeatedly declared his innocence, continues to enjoy support from John Paul. The pope celebrated the Legion’s 60th anniversary in St. Peter’s Square in 2001 and told a crowd: “I extend a particularly affectionate greeting to your dear founder, Father Marcial Maciel, whom I heartily congratulate at this significant juncture.”

* * *

The sidewalks and streets around the Vatican are brimming with clergy, seminarians and Catholic pilgrims of all nationalities. Cardinals and bishops, in their scarlet and purple vestments, meander through the scores of people. Police cars whiz by occasionally, escorting limousines with foreign dignitaries into the Vatican.

“You can stand out there in St. Peter’s Square and hear 50 languages spoken. You’re just lost in the crowd,” said Monsignor Breslin, the former college administrator in Rome. “No one will look at you and think you’re a criminal.”

The Rev. James “Jim” Tully, center with cap, strolls through St. Peter’s Square after working at one of his religious order’s offices. He was accused of sexual abuse. (Mona Reeder/The Dallas Morning News)

One sunny day this summer, the Rev. James Tully navigated his way past tourists in St. Peter’s Square without interruption and headed for a yellow Vatican postal box on the side of St. Peter’s Basilica, where the pope regularly blesses the faithful. Tully dropped in a couple of letters, then walked on to a nearby bus stop.

Tully, who declined to be interviewed, was moved to Rome two years ago, about a month after he was accused of sexual misconduct for the third time. The priest had pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct in 1992 for giving three boys alcohol and grabbing one of them on the inner thigh during a baseball game in Milwaukee.

Tully’s therapist wrote a letter during that case in which he said the priest “had never denied responsibility for his sexual behavior.”

An official with Tully’s Xaverian Missionary Fathers order said his transfer to Rome had nothing to do with abuse allegations.

The priest was recovering from the stress of working in war-torn parts of Africa, the official said, and was not ready for parish ministry in the United States.

The Rev. Richard Mataconis wears a headset and a ballcap with the letters HB as he leaves the catacombs in Rome in 2004. (File photo)

A few miles south of the Vatican, the Rev. Richard Mataconis works as an English-language guide at the Catacombs of St. Callistus, a popular stop for Catholics visiting Rome. He mingles with the adults and children on his tours, talking them through the ancient burial sites of popes and Catholic martyrs.

Mataconis was sued two years ago by two men who accused him of abusing them in the 1970s at the New York junior seminary they attended. The suit ultimately was dismissed because the men had missed the deadline for filing a legal claim. The priest, a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco religious order, would not agree to an interview.

Salesian officials said they could not discuss the accusations, the circumstances of his transfer to Rome or his current assignments, citing pending litigation against the order.

“We trust that you understand our position,” their attorney said.

* * *

Father Barry Bossa was chatting in the second-floor hallway of his order’s offices one afternoon when a doorman told him he had company. “A visitor? For me?” he replied enthusiastically.

His expression quickly turned sour, though. The visitor was a reporter, and Bossa was in no mood to discuss the abuse complaints against him.

The church building where Barry Bossa lived in Rome. (Mona Reeder/The Dallas Morning News)

“My lips are sealed,” he responded emphatically to a few questions, before ducking into a room.

Bossa came to this urban neighborhood — dotted with shops and restaurants, and buzzing with well-dressed professionals — days after he abruptly left his parish in Yonkers, N.Y., two years ago.

The New York Archdiocese had learned that the priest pleaded guilty in 1974 to a reduced charge of misdemeanor sexual abuse — a detail his religious order, the Pallottines, had failed to share.

New York Cardinal Edward Egan stripped Bossa of his ability to minister in the archdiocese, and the priest departed Yonkers so swiftly that his sister had to come retrieve his belongings.

At the time of the assault on a 12-year-old boy, Bossa was a lay Catholic teacher.

The Pallottines were aware of his conviction when he sought in 1976 to join the order, said the Rev. Terzo Vinci, a colleague who monitored Bossa in the United States.

The Pallottines accepted him because he promised not to relapse, Vinci said. As his criminal record was resurfacing in 2002, Bossa was hit with new allegations in Massachusetts.

Several men told the Boston Archdiocese that the priest had abused them in the mid-1970s, when they were young boys and he was teaching at a Bridgewater, Mass., parish.

Sometimes, he had sex with the boys after checking them out of grammar school and taking them to a nearby church office, according to records and interviews.

Massachusetts authorities filed criminal charges against Bossa in early 2003, several months after he had moved to Rome.

Vinci said the Pallottines are not trying to protect Bossa from authorities. They moved him to Rome to isolate him from children, Vinci said, and now he is unable to return to the United States because of his health.

“It’s not a promotion,” he said. “Possibly some lay people have this perception, ‘He went to Rome. Oh, he’s with the pope.’ He went to Rome in exile. Zero promotion. Zero anything.”

One of the four accusers in the Massachusetts criminal case said he was surprised when he learned that the Pallottines had given Bossa a home in Rome.

“Right there, right by the pope. Nice,” said the man, who spoke on the condition he not be named. “You would think they would want them out of there.”

* * *

Each day, the tourists walking to St. Peter’s Square pass the Salvatorian order’s world headquarters and its signature large green double doors.

Father Joseph Henn, a fugitive, lives behind those doors. He comes and goes easily, just one more anonymous person on Rome’s streets.

His accommodations are pleasant. The headquarters’ first floor has a tranquil garden courtyard with a fountain and begonias, a hotel and a tourist information center. Upstairs are offices, a chapel and a large kitchen and cafeteria, where the pope ate lunch during a visit a few years ago. And the rooftop patio offers a panoramic view of imposing St. Peter’s Basilica and other Roman landmarks.

Henn already was living here, doing administrative work, by the time authorities began targeting him last year as part of a broader abuse investigation into the Phoenix Diocese.

Church officials had received complaints long ago from parents that he was fondling their sons, records show. The diocese had even made a confidential payout to one accuser in the early 1990s. But those allegations were not forwarded to law enforcement, according to the Maricopa County, Ariz., attorney’s office.

When a reporter approached Henn in the courtyard, he was exasperated by questions about his criminal case and his life in Rome.

“I was hoping the lawyers had worked to make sure that everything was sort of finished,” he said, declining to specifically address the allegations. “What I’m a little bit frustrated (about) is you may be opening everything back up to prosecution.”

Salvatorian officials would not agree to an interview or address when and why Henn was sent to Rome. They said in a written statement that it was their “clear expectation” that Father Henn would heed their request to go back and answer the 13-count indictment against him.

He has refused. And the order has let him stay.

“That doesn’t sit well with me,” said one of Henn’s accusers, Rick Rivezzo, who is suing the Phoenix Diocese. “He knew what was going on, and he was there for a reason — to hide.”

Romley, the prosecutor, said his office tried to talk Henn into returning voluntarily. The costly, cumbersome process of extradition is the only resort now. Romley knows from experience that he can’t count on the Vatican’s help.

“It doesn’t seem like they’re putting forward the very best foot to really make a difference and say, ‘You will be held accountable, and this is not going to occur again,’” he said. “And that’s the bottom line.”

(Dallas Morning News correspondents Brendan M. Case and Anna Zammit in Rome contributed to this report.)