Luigi Ventura (born 9 December 1944) is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church who worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, ending his career as Apostolic Nuncio to France from 2009 to 2019. He became a nuncio and archbishop in 1995 and served in several African countries, Chile, and Canada before being posted to Paris.
|Other posts||Titular Archbishop of Equilium|
|Ordination||14 June 1969|
|Consecration||29 April 1995|
by Angelo Sodano
|Born||9 December 1944|
|Motto||Unitatem Spiritus Servare|
|Coat of arms|
|Reference style||The Most Reverend|
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
Beginning in January 2019 he was under investigation by French authorities for sexual crimes. In July 2019, the Vatican lifted his diplomatic immunity to allow him to face criminal charges. He was allowed to relocate to Rome; Pope Francis accepted his resignation in December 2019. Ventura's criminal trial began in Paris on November 10, 2020 without him present, despite previous pledges that he would appear in-person. However, Ventura was also denied a motion to postpone the trial, which proceeded with many of his accusers testifying. A verdict was handed down on December 16, 2020, which resulted in Ventura receiving an eight month suspended prison sentence which includes fines and probation. He has agreed to not appeal his sentence.
Ventura was born on 9 December 1944 in Borgosatollo, Italy. He was ordained a priest on 14 June 1969 for the Diocese of Brescia. To prepare for a diplomatic career he entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in 1967.
He joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1978. He earned a doctor of letters and holds a licentiate in canon law. His assignments from 1978 to 1984 were in Brazil, Bolivia and the United Kingdom. He then worked in Rome with the Section for Relations with States at the Secretariat of State until 1995.
On 25 March 1995, Pope John Paul II appointed him titular archbishop of Equilium and apostolic nuncio to the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger. He was consecrated a bishop on 29 April 1995 by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State. He was made nuncio to Chile on 25 March 1999.
On 15 February 2019, Le Monde reported that a young male employed by the office of the mayor of Paris had filed a complaint for sexual assault against Ventura and that authorities had launched a formal inquiry in January. The city employee, Mathieu de La Souchère, and two other accusers using aliases, have asked French officials to ask the Vatican to waive Ventura's diplomatic immunity. French European Minister Nathalie Loiseau said she expects the Vatican to allow Ventura to be tried.
On 22 February a Canadian man, Christian Vachon, charged Ventura had touched him improperly in July 2008 when he was 32. Vachon said Ventura's successor as Nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, called him the day he registered his complaint to discuss it.
Ventura allowed himself to be questioned by French police in April. At his own request, Ventura met with his four accusers on 22–23 May and denied their charges. The accusers' attorneys were not allowed to ask him questions. On 8 July a Vatican spokesperson said the Holy See had informed French authorities a week earlier that it was waiving Ventura's diplomatic immunity. He called it "an extraordinary gesture". Le Monde reported it was the first withdrawal of diplomatic immunity on the part of the Vatican in modern history.
Pope Francis accepted his resignation on 17 December 2019, which Ventura had submitted as required on his 75th birthday. Such resignations are either accepted by Pope Francis quickly, as in Ventura's case, or sometimes he kept bishops in their jobs longer. The fact that Ventura resignation was announced on the same day as Francis’ abuse reforms does not seem to be a coincidence. The resignation and its acceptance had been anticipated since Ventura had been relieved of his responsibilities and moved to Rome in September. Libération, which published some of the earliest complaints against Ventura, called the idea of retiring without referencing the criminal charges against Ventura "a beautiful example of Jesuitry".
Criminal charges and trialEdit
On July 23, 2020, the Paris Prosecutor's Office announced that Ventura had been criminally charged with sexually assaulting four men in 2018 and 2019 and will stand trial in Paris starting November 10, 2020. Ventura's lawyer stated that the former nuncio agreed to return to Paris and make in-person court appearances during his trial. Despite this pledge, Ventura did not appear in-person when his trial began in Paris on the scheduled date. Despite Ventura's absence, which was justified by a doctor's note pointing out the dangers of traveling to France due to the country's surging number of COVID-19 cases, a motion filed by Ventura's lawyers to postpone the trial was denied and several men accusing Ventura of groping them, including a Catholic seminarian, were able to testify in court as the trial progressed. Ventura's verdict was scheduled to be delivered on December 16, 2020, with prosecution seeking only a 10 month suspended prison sentence. His Paris trial concluded by November 15. On the scheduled date of December 16, 2020, a Paris court convicted Ventura and handed an eight month suspended prison sentence. The suspended sentence includes eight months probation and a payment €13,000 to the victims, as well as €9,000 in legal fees. On January 18, 2021, Ventura's lawyer said he would not appeal his conviction.
- "Holy See waives diplomatic immunity for accused nuncio to France". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
- "Pope accepts resignation of archbishop accused of molestation". Reuters. 17 December 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
- "Lawyer confirms ex-nuncio to France will not appeal court verdict". Catholic News Agency. 18 January 2021. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
- "Pontificia Accademia Ecclesiastica, Ex-alunni 1950 – 1999" (in Italian). Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
- Brockhaus, Hannah (17 December 2019). "Accused nuncio to France resigns post". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
- Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXXVII. 1995. p. 397. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
- "Archbishop Luigi Ventura [Catholic-Hierarchy]". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
- Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXXXI. 1999. p. 479. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
- "The Vatican's man in Canada". National Post. Archived from the original on 27 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- "Rinunce e Nomine, 22.06.2001" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 22 June 2001.
- "Rinunce e Nomine, 22.09.2009" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 22 September 2009.
- "Pope Francis lifts 'pontifical secret' for sex abuse cases". i24NEWS. 17 December 2019. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
- "L'" ambassadeur " du pape en France, Luigi Ventura, visé par une enquête pour " agressions sexuelles "". Le Monde (in French). 15 February 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- Vaillant, Gauthier (15 February 2019). "Le nonce apostolique en France visé par une enquête pour agressions sexuelles". La Croix (in French). Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- Joahny, Stéphane (17 February 2019). "Soupçons d'agression sexuelle : le cas Ventura met le Vatican dans l'embarras". Journal de Dimanche (in French). Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- Vandoorne, Saskya (15 February 2019). "Vatican envoy to France under investigation for sexual assault". CNN. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- "Emmanuel Macron, levez l'immunité diplomatique du nonce apostolique!". La Libération (in French). 28 February 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- "France calls on Vatican to take action against envoy after sex abuse charges". RFI. 1 March 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- Vaillancourt, Philippe (26 February 2019). "Première plainte d'inconduite sexuelle au Canada contre l'ancien nonce". Présence (in French). Retrieved 30 May 2019.
- "French nuncio accused of sexual misconduct during time in Canada". Catholic News Agency. 1 March 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- Vaillancourt, Philippe (28 February 2019). "Vatican embassy confirms complaint of sexual misconduct against ex-nuncio". Crux. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- Houdaille, Clémence (23 May 2019). "Confronté à ses accusateurs, le nonce apostolique nie toute agression sexuelle". La Croix (in French). Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- "Holy See waives diplomatic immunity for accused nuncio to France". Catholic News Agency. 8 July 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
- Chambraud, Cécile (17 December 2019). "Le pape François lève le secret pontifical sur les abus sexuels au sein de l'Eglise catholique" (in French). Retrieved 18 December 2019.
- "Papal nuncio to France accused of sexual assault back in Rome". La Croix International. 30 September 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
- Lamb, Christopher (17 December 2019). "Pope accepts France ambassador resignation". The Tablet. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
- "Resignations and Appointments, 17.12.2019" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 17 December 2019.
- "Vatican ambassador to France resigns after molestation allegations". Reuters. 17 December 2019. Archived from the original on 17 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
- Winfield, Nicole (17 December 2019). "Pope Francis abolishes 'pontifical secret' in clergy sex abuse cases". FOX 29 KTVU, Associated Press. Archived from the original on 17 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
- "Le nonce Ventura démisionne... "pour limite d'âge"" (in French). 17 December 2019. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
|Catholic Church titles|
| Apostolic Nuncio to Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Niger
25 March 1995 – 25 March 1999
| Apostolic Nuncio to Chile
25 March 1999 – 22 June 2001
| Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
22 June 2001 – 22 September 2009
Pedro Lopez Quintana
| Apostolic Nuncio to France
22 September 2009 – 17 December 2019