The Holy See's former nuncio to Dominican Republic has been defrocked by a church tribunal pending possible further criminal proceedings on charges of child sexual abuse.
In a rare move against a senior church official, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered that Jozef Wesolowski be stripped of the priesthood.
According to a Church statement, the former ambassador has two months to appeal the ruling, delivered after a Church trial in the Vatican.
It added that criminal proceedings by Vatican authorities would begin as soon as the sentence is confirmed.
If found guilty, Wesolowski risks being extradited to the Dominican Republic, which has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the case.
Last month, the United Nations watchdog body on torture called on the Vatican to investigate the case and to ascertain whether it warranted criminal prosecution or extradition to face charges in the Dominican Republic.