Archbishop Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio to France © Corinne Simon (KNA)
Paris prosecutors have opened an investigation into the pope's ambassador to France on suspicion of sexual assault. The Holy See is waiting for the results of the investigation, according to Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti.
French prosecutors have requested the lifting of the immunity of the Pope's ambassador in Paris, Luigi Ventura. Ventura has been charged with four counts of sexual assault, the French newspaper La Croix reported Monday.
As part of an ongoing investigation, the alleged victims in three cases have already been questioned, the article said. Ventura (74) has been Vatican envoy to France since 2009. He has previously served as papal ambassador to several African countries, Chile and Canada.
One of the cases of which the nuncio is accused is said to have occurred at the New Year's reception of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo in mid-January. Ventura reportedly indecently touched a young man from the mayor's Delegation for International Relations (DGRI) on several occasions.
The immunity waiver request published by the prosecutor's office must now be forwarded by the Paris attorney general to the French justice ministry. This in turn will then hand over the case to the Foreign Ministry, it was said.
Vatican had learned of the case from the press
France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau had already called for Ventura's immunity to be lifted in early March. Vatican must take responsibility, Loiseau says. Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said last they would wait for the results of the investigation. A diplomat told French broadcaster Europe 1 on Friday that the lifting of immunity was an "extremely serious" measure, almost an "affront".