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VATICAN CITY — Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella, a diplomat who served at the Vatican embassy in Washington until last year, was arrested by Vatican guards Saturday on child pornography charges.

In September, the Vatican said Capella had been recalled from his post after U.S. authorities flagged him for possible child porn crimes. The Vatican refused to let him be tried in the United States.

Capella could be the first defendant in a Vatican criminal court case for child abuse crimes.

The Catholic Church has been dogged for decades by the worldwide scandal of pedophile priests.

Pope Francis has pledged to continue a “zero tolerance” policy instituted by his predecessor Benedict XVI, but the pope’s record on the issue has recently come under scrutiny.

During a January visit to Chile, Francis angered victims of sexual abuse by insisting they had no “proof” against a bishop who allegedly witnessed abuse and failed to report it.

The pope’s defense of Bishop Juan Barros led to protests, after which Francis apologized and asked the Vatican’s top investigator on sexual abuse, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, to look into the case.