An Italian Catholic priest accused of paying a teenage boy for sex has been suspended by the archbishop of Milan.
The 46-year-old Father Alberto Paolo Lesmo was suspended from his duties as parish priest in the Milan neighbourhood of Muggiano pending the conclusion of investigations.
The victim was said to be a cocaine addict who prostituted himself to fund his expensive habit.
The abuse reportedly occurred between 2009 and 2011, when the victim was a teenager.
A statement obtained by AFP quoted the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, as appealing for unity among parishioners as the suspension was announced.
The statement also quoted the archbishop as denying knowing of a 2013 probe into the activities of the now suspended priest, which the priest allegedly covered up.
The archdiocese said it had opened its own investigation into the matter, just as Cardinal Scola and “his colleagues express their distress and their pain, and pray for the victim, those close to him and for Father Lesmo”.
Cases of child sex abuse have been reported against Catholic priests in many parts of the world in recent times, compelling Pope Francis to approve the creation of a internal church tribunal to punish bishops who cover up sex abuse by priests.
However, many are sceptical about the effectiveness of such body.