A Vatican official who had been accused of sexual abuse has resigned with Pope Francis’ sanction.
Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the Vatican’s ambassador to France, will step down months after an alleged groping incident, and only days after turning 75, according to Breitbart.
Archbishops are required to retire upon turning 75, Breitbart notes. Francis accepted Ventura’s resignation on Tuesday.
It came the same day that Francis, in response to criticism over the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal, revoked a “papal secrecy” rule that would increase transparency and cooperation between the church and the civil authorities, the Associated Press reported.
Vatican official resigns
French prosecutors have investigated Ventura for allegedly fondling a young man during a public ceremony in Paris this January, and other complaints emerged in the wake of that incident. The city of Paris accused Ventura of molesting a municipal staffer during a speech by Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Jan. 17.
“During these proceedings, a city employee was subjected to sexual touching three times, with hands insistently pressed to the buttocks, one time in front of witnesses,” Le Monde reported, according to Breitbart.
The Catholic Church revoked Ventura’s diplomatic immunity in July, Catholic News Agency reported, and other, similar complaints soon emerged. A 39-year-old man alleged that Ventura, almost a year before in January of 2018, touched his buttocks at a public ceremony in Paris.
“I was stunned, the ceremony was going on, and so I left,” the man said. “I understood a few days ago that these were habitual predatory actions.”
A step forward
Ventura served in the role for 10 years before his resignation, which coincided with a shift in Vatican policy that the city’s sex crimes investigator described as “epochal” in opening up sexual abusers to criminal prosecution. Francis has struggled to respond to growing criticism of the Vatican for shielding molesters in the clergy.
The Pope said that the Church will no longer apply the “pontifical secrecy” rule to sexual abuse cases, in a sign of the mounting pressure facing the Church to reform the way it handles pedophiles in its ranks. The Vatican has long argued that the rule exists to protect the reputations and identities of the accusers and the accused, and Francis acknowledged that the “security, integrity and confidentiality” of information in abuse cases should be protected.
The rule change also raises the age in the Vatican’s definition of child pornography from 14 to 18, according to CBS News.
The sex abuse controversy has emboldened liberal critics to attack Catholicism and organized religion itself, while some of the church’s defenders have argued that the abuse problem is largely linked with homosexuals in the clergy. A book by a French journalist has claimed that 80% of Vatican officials are gay, and several studies have shown that the majority of abuse victims are male, Breitbart notes.