Embattled Vatican envoy faces new sex assault claim in Canada

Vatican diplomat Luigi Ventura now faces a complaint filed in Ottawa, Canada. PHOTO: AFP

MONTREAL (AFP) - Vatican diplomat Luigi Ventura - who is already under investigation in France over alleged sexual assault - is now facing a similar complaint in Canada, the Holy See's embassy in Ottawa said on Thursday (Feb 28).

Archbishop Luigi Ventura, currently the Vatican's envoy to France, has been accused of molesting an official at the Paris mayor's office.

The 74-year-old Italian archbishop served as the envoy to Canada from 2001 to 2009. He now faces a "single" complaint filed in Ottawa, the embassy told AFP, adding that the complaint has been reported to officials in Vatican City.

According to the Canadian website Presence, which specialises in religious news and first reported on the complaint, Archbishop Ventura allegedly groped a man in 2008 at the shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre in Quebec province.

The alleged victim, then 32, was helping to serve Archbishop Ventura during a banquet for the Feast of Sainte Anne. The man said that the archbishop touched his buttocks at least twice, according to Presence.

The man filed his complaint last week at the Vatican embassy in Ottawa after learning of the accusations against Archbishop Ventura in France.

The accusations are more unwelcome news for the Catholic Church as it looks to turn the page on years of scandal.

Pope Francis has vowed that the church will no longer ignore abuse allegations, and he removed two prominent cardinals from his inner circle late last year after they were tainted by paedophilia scandals.

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