PARIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican appears to be running out the clock on Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the Vatican's envoy to France. Required to retire in December when he reaches the age of 75, Ventura is acquiring a growing rap sheet for allegedly using his presumed celebrity accompanying his clerical authority as a tool for homosexual predation.
Disturbing new allegations based on 2018 events were reported this week in Crux. According to these claims, Ventura groped at least one priest at the Vatican nunciature in Paris.
"I took my mobile phone, to see what the perfect angle was to take the picture," said the unidentified man. He added that Venture "came behind me as if to look at how the picture was. That's when he put his hands on my buttocks for about five seconds."
According to news reports in February, Ventura repeatedly groped a Paris city employee in full view of witnesses in mid-January, sparking a French investigation a week later. At that time, the Vatican declared it would wait until the conclusion of that investigation before conducting its own. He had previously been accused of inappropriate touching when serving as nuncio in Canada.
Since the January accusations, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has banned Ventura from all events held at Paris City Hall. Additionally, French officials are seeking the termination of Ventura's diplomatic immunity.
Ordained 50 years ago in June 1969, Ventura was elevated to bishop in 1995. He subsequently served as nuncio in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chile and Canada. He was appointed as the Vatican's ambassador in Paris in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.
While he was in Chile, Ventura is reported to have worked closely with Fernando Karadima, now a former priest and a notorious sexual predator. Church Militant reported in March that a court ordered the Santiago archdiocese pay $150,000 to each of three victims of Karadima more than 20 years ago.
The Vatican sentenced Karadima to a life of prayer and penance in 2011. Pope Francis had him defrocked in September.
As for Ventura, he is simultaneously claiming he's the victim of a Paris City Hall vendetta and that his actions result from the removal of a benign brain tumor in 2015 that negatively affected his memory and vision. However, several accusations made prior to 2015 give suspicion to both alibis.
The January event received extensive international coverage in mid-February. The employee has been identified as 27-year-old Mathieu de La Souchèr.
According to The New York Times:
The employee accused Archbishop Ventura of touching his buttocks on three occasions, the official said, first when the Vatican envoy arrived at City Hall, greeting him and complimenting him on his physical appearance. The employee said he thought the gesture might have been involuntary, according to the official.
But the archbishop touched the man's buttocks a second time several minutes later, this time more forcefully, according to the official, who said "there was no more doubt for the employee that this act was voluntary."
The employee sought to distance himself from the archbishop, going to another room, but the archbishop followed him and touched his buttocks a third time, the official said. In that instance, four other City Hall employees were witnesses.
Ventura is the third Vatican diplomat in the past six years accused of sexual crimes. Carlo Capella was sentenced to five years in prison for possession and distribution of child pornography by a Vatican tribunal.
Former Dominican Republic ambassador Józef Wesołowski was defrocked in 2014, but died before his Vatican criminal trial began.