17 December 2019, The Tablet

Pope accepts France ambassador resignation

Pope accepts France ambassador resignation

Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the Vatican nuncio to France, meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican in this file photo from Oct. 18, 2018
CNS/Vatican Media

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of his ambassador to Paris who is under investigation for sexual assault.

The Vatican announced on 17 December that Archbishop Luigi Ventura was stepping down from his post.

French authorities have opened an investigation into the 75-year-old Vatican diplomat after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused him of molestation.

The archbishop, who reached episcopal retirement age of 75 last week, is reportedly  no longer living in France although will have to return to the country if summoned by the courts.

Diplomatic relations between Paris and the Holy See go back to the 5th century, while France’s long Catholic history means it is often referred to as “the eldest daughter of the Church”.

Earlier this year, in July, the Holy See lifted Archbishop Ventura’s diplomat immunity so he could be questioned by prosecutors. 

France's public prosecutor had asked in March for the diplomatic immunity of the papal nuncio in Paris to be lifted so he can be questioned about allegations of sexual abuse.

Archbishop Ventura faces accusations from three men that he inappropriately touched their buttocks at public ceremonies. He has been nuncio in France since 2009.

Two of those incidents took place at Paris City Hall while Mayor Anne Hidalgo was delivering her official New Year’s wishes to assembled diplomats.

Media reports say a fourth person has also reported improper behaviour by Ventura to police but did not want to lodge a formal complaint against him.

The Vatican embassy in Ottawa, where Ventura was nuncio from 2001 to 2009, said last month a Canadian man had filed a similar accusation against him after learning that French police were conducting an investigation.

Lawyers for the three accusers have said they hope France will pursue the case so that “immunity does not lead to impunity,” as one lawyer put it.

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99