Vatican waives papal ambassador’s diplomatic immunity

The Vatican has waived diplomatic immunity for its ambassador to France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, who is being investigated for sexual assault.

In doing so, the Vatican has cleared the way for Ventura (74) to face criminal charges in France.

This decision to waive diplomatic immunity is unprecedented in the history of modern Vatican diplomacy.

“This is an extraordinary gesture that confirms the will of the Nuncio (ambassador), expressed from the beginning of this situation, to collaborate fully with the French judicial authorities,” the press office says.

The news of Ventura’s alleged assaults became public last February after Paris City Hall told the public prosecutor’s office that a young executive claimed Ventura had repeatedly touched him during a reception.

Other complainants have since emerged. Six people are now accusing Archbishop Ventura of similar offences.

They include a diplomat from the Quai d’Orsay and an 18 year-old seminarian who was asked not to return to his seminary after he complained about Ventura.

In addition, victims who did not wish to file a complaint with the French courts have also spoken to the Vatican about Ventura.

Besides the current raft of complaints, other French seminarians have mentioned concerns about Ventura.

“When he went to visit the seminaries, he asked his secretary to get the telephone numbers of some seminarians whom he then invited to the nunciature,” the complainant from city hall said.

“One of them was warned that the nuncio was ‘tactile’ but that he should not be offended.

His lawyer describes this as “a relationship of abuse of power.”

“Just because it’s men who are being assaulted doesn’t mean it should be minimised,” she warns.

“These are premeditated acts against victims of different ages, always of [legal] age, but in a vulnerable state shocked by the situation in which they find themselves.”

Ventura has denied all accusations against him and, until his diplomatic immunity was waived, his accusers’ lawyers were not given the opportunity to question him.

However, the Vatican’s decision to waive Ventura’s diplomatic immunity will allow the Paris prosecutor to continue with his proceedings.

He can now choose either to close the case or to refer it to a criminal court which will have to rule on the possible guilt of the nuncio.

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News category: World.

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