A Catholic priest in Latvia stands accused of a horrific crime ahead of a papal visit to the Baltic nation.
“A Latvian Catholic priest has been arrested on allegations he raped a mentally handicapped victim of human trafficking, police in the capital Riga said Wednesday ahead of a papal visit,” according to France24.
The priest has been identified as Pavels Zeila, 73, of the Rēzekne–Aglon diocese.
The diocese is scheduled to host Pope Francis on his September 22 visit to the country.
“Zeila’s lawyer flatly denied the allegations and the Catholic diocese of Rezekne said Zeila must be presumed innocent,” the report said.
A second man was also charged with trafficking the victim.
“One of the suspects ‘delivered’ the defenceless victim for a fee, the church representative, who was the end buyer, paid the fee and then committed violent sexual crimes against the victim,” according to the report.
Zeila’s lawyer flatly denied the allegations and the Catholic diocese of Rezekne said Zeila must be presumed innocent.
It has been a hellish two months for the Catholic Church, which has faced accusations of sexual abuse by priests from several sources and calls for Pope Francis’ resignation.
At the end of July, more than 300 “predator priests” were named in a redacted Pennsylvania Supreme Court report. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. resigned at nearly the same time after being outed as a sexual deviant. Finally, an Archbishop recently claimed that Pope Francis knew about McCarrick’s abuses and covered for him.
On Tuesday, reports surfaced that two gay priests were caught performing sex acts in a car in Miami, FL.
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