THE Vatican says it is co-operating with prosecutors in the Dominican Republic who are investigating its ambassador for alleged sexual abuse of teenage boys.

Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi denied the Vatican was trying to shield Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski by recalling him to Rome before Dominican prosecutors had announced their investigation.

The Holy See recalled the archbishop on August 21 and relieved him of his job as apostolic nuncio after the Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, told Pope Francis about the allegations in July.

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Dominican prosecutors announced their investigation last week, largely in response to media reports of allegations of sexual misconduct by Archbishop Wesolowski, 65, as well as a friend and fellow Polish priest, who is also outside the country.

Prosecutor Bolivar Sanchez has said he has interviewed seven boys between 13 and 18 and has described some of their allegations as coherent. Three of them work on the streets of the capital of Santo Domingo, while the remaining four live elsewhere. Local news reports have said some of the youths shine shoes.

The archbishop's case has raised questions about whether the Vatican, by removing him from Dominican jurisdiction, had effectively placed its own church investigation ahead of that of authorities in the Caribbean nation.