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Italian priest "removed" for grooming man on web

by Desmond Busteed

The 32-year-old from Rovigo in north-east Italy, has claimed he was contacted by the unnamed priest from the southern diocese of Taranto, around six months ago.

The unemployed labourer said he was going through a difficult time when he received a Facebook message from the 50-year-old priest: "I thought it could have been a sign from heaven, I needed spiritual help," he told Corriere.

The priest allegedly said he had organised sexual activities with a Swiss Guard and priests, although church authorities have reportedly said no one else was involved.

The labourer did not disclose how he responded to the advances, stating instead that he was not gay and did not want to risk losing the spiritual support of the priest.

The Archbishop of Taranto, the Most Revd Filippo Santoro said the priest had been removed from his parish duties over the allegations, which was "absolutely incompatible with the priestly ministry".

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