Vatican ambassador under investigation for sexual assault

Vatican ambassador under investigation for sexual assault

Notre-Dame de Paris. Credit: barnyz via flickr CC BY ND 2.0.
Notre-Dame de Paris. Credit: barnyz via flickr CC BY ND 2.0.

.- Bishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio to France since 2009 and a long-time Vatican diplomat, is under investigation for alleged sexual assault.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday that Ventura, 74, is being investigated by Paris authorities after he was accused late last month of having inappropriately touched a young male staffer of Paris City Hall.

A Vatican statement Feb. 15 said that it was made aware of the French authorities’ investigation of the envoy through the press and is “awaiting the outcome of the investigations.”

The alleged assault is said to have taken place in Paris’ City Hall Jan. 17, during a reception for the annual New Year address of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. The address is usually given to diplomats, religious leaders, and civil society members, with a role by the apostolic nuncio.

The claim against Ventura was brought to French authorities by Paris City Hall six days after it allegedly took place. The alleged victim has not been identified.

Ventura, who comes from the northern Italian region of Lombardy, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Brescia in 1969.

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1978 and was stationed in Brazil, Bolivia, and the UK. From 1984 to 1995 he was appointed to serve at the Secretariat of State in the Section for Relations with States.

After his episcopal ordination in 1995, Ventura served as nuncio to the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chile, and Canada. He was appointed apostolic nuncio to France by Benedict XVI in September 2009.

The allegation comes just days before a special summit convened by Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss the sexual abuse crisis facing the Church worldwide.

While organizers of that meeting, which will include the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences, have stressed that the agenda will focus on the specific issue of the sexual abuse of minors, some bishops and commentators have suggested it should also treat allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse of adults by clerics.

The investigation against Ventura also comes amid expectations that the Vatican is soon to announce a decision in the canonical process handling the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick is accused of sexually abusing a number of minors and adults, including seminarians, over a period of decades.

Tags: Catholic News, Sexual assault, Paris, Apostolic nuncios, Bishop Luigi Ventura