The Vatican has defrocked a prominent Lebanese priest who last year was sentenced by a French court to 15 years in jail in absentia for sexually assaulting three girls.
Mansour Labaki, who is believed to be in Lebanon, was stripped of his status as a priest in a decree signed by Pope Francis, a statement by the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon said.
Another priest, Georges Badr, was also defrocked, although it was initially unclear why.
“We pray for the victims of sexual abuse and for our brothers Georges and Mansour, that this decision may be their salvation,” the APECL statement said.
Labaki had been found guilty in France on two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault against three girls.
But it’s unclear if he will ever face justice, despite Interpol issuing an international arrest warrant in 2016.
He was once known as a priest who was also an author and had run an orphanage in Normandy, France.
French authorities first began investigating Labaki in 2012 amid allegations he had abused children at the orphanage in the 1990s.
The Vatican also began a probe at a similar time, sentencing him to a life of prayer and solitude in a monastery, and banning him from practising as a priest — without formally defrocking him.
At his trial, French prosecutors condemned Labaki's lack of co-operation and alleged intimidation campaigns against witnesses.
Labaki, who rejects the rulings against him, has been accused by lawyers of abusing dozens of people.