Vatican ex-ambassador to France to face sexual assault trial

The former Papal ambassador to France is to face trial on sexual assault charges in November, the Paris prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.

The Vatican had lifted the diplomatic immunity of the then Papal Nuncio Luigi Ventura last year to allow French authorities to investigate allegations leveled against him.

The envoy was in January 2019 accused repeatedly of touching a young male city official during a function at the Paris City Hall. Further men later came forward with similar allegations.

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In December, Pope Francis accepted Ventura’s resignation.

The trial is due to start on Nov.10, the prosecutor’s office said.

The Catholic Church has been in turmoil for years over worldwide reports of clerical sex abuse, and the Vatican has repeatedly pledged to tackle the issue with reforms.

France’s most senior Catholic churchman, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, resigned in March after an appeal court acquitted him of failing to report abuse allegations against a priest in his diocese.

The priest in question was later jailed five years for repeated sexual assaults on boys throughout the 1980s, when he was chaplain to a scout group.

The offences took place long before Barbarin was appointed archbishop.(dpa/NAN)

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