The Vatican said on Saturday its police had arrested a monsignor who once worked as a diplomat at its U.S. embassy and was recalled last year after the U.S. State Department said he may have violated child pornography laws.
A Vatican statement identified the accused as Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella and said he was arrested earlier on Saturday after a warrant was issued by the Holy See's chief magistrate at the end of an investigation.
The Vatican statement gave no details of the specific accusations against Capella, who was recalled from Washington last September. If indicted the monsignor will have to stand trial in the Vatican.
The case is the latest blow to the Catholic Church as it struggles to overcome repeated sex abuse scandals among its clergy.
Pope Francis has declared zero tolerance over abuse scandals that have beset the Church for decades, but critics say he has not done enough, particularly to hold bishops responsible for mishandling or covering up abuse.
The State Department notified the Holy See in August of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington, the Vatican said at the time.
A State Department spokesman said at the time that the United States had requested that the man's diplomatic immunity be waived to open the way for possible prosecution, but the Vatican refused.