The pope of the Roman Catholic Church has been denounced for secretly firing Vatican's envoy to the Dominican Republic over allegations of child sexual abuse.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis recalled Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski and launched a probe following the news in local media outlets that the archbishop was involved in pedophilia.
And Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi announced that Wesolowski had been "relieved of his duties".
A day later, human rights activists censured the pope for making surreptitious and reckless decisions.
"Like all of his predecessors, Pope Francis is acting belatedly, secretively and recklessly," Barbara Dorris, the director for the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said in a statement published on Thursday.
"Catholic officials act only when forced to do so by media pressure," she lamented.
"When they do act, they act secretively -- in this case, by not disclosing the allegations, the suspension or the reason for the suspension," Dorris added.
Wesolowski, 65, had been the papal nuncio in Santo Domingo for six years until the Vatican clandestinely sacked him on August 21.
Over the past few years, the Roman Catholic Church has been facing numerous scandals of child sexual abuse by priests, mainly in the United States and Europe.