Ex-Vatican envoy faces abuse charge in French court

PARIS (AP) — The Vatican’s former ambassador to France goes on trial yesterday for alleged sexual misconduct.

Many have accused Archbishop Luigi Ventura of groping and inappropriate touching. Exceptionally, the Vatican last year lifted the ambassador’s diplomatic immunity, allowing for his trial and for the allegations to be properly investigated. Ventura has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Among his accusers is Mathieu De La Souchere who filed a police report in Paris in 2019 accusing Ventura of sexual misconduct during a reception at Paris City Hall.

The Vatican recalled Ventura last year and he later retired. The Vatican has previously recalled its diplomats when they get into trouble during overseas postings, as is common for governments with diplomats serving abroad.

In the most high-profile case, the Vatican recalled its ambassador to the Dominican Republic and prepared to put him on trial in the city state’s criminal tribunal for alleged sexually abuse. But he died before the trial started.

Ventura’s trial comes the same day that the Vatican is releasing a much-awaited report into Theodore McCarrick, a once-influential American cardinal who was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of rumours that he was a sexual predator.