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Italian Cardinal suspends Milan priest accused of sexual abuse of teenager

The archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, has suspended a Milan priest following accusations that he paid a teenage boy for sex. The alleged abuse happened between 2009 and 2011.

Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan poses in full religious dress, including a large cross dangling from his neck.

Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan

Father Alberto Paolo Lesmo has been stripped of his duties as parish priest in the Milan neighborhood of Muggiano by Cardinal Angelo Scola (photo), according to a statement issued by the archbishop's office in Milan on Saturday.

"Cardinal Scola and his colleagues express their distress and their pain, and pray for the victim, those close to him and for Father Lesmo," according to the church statement.

The church said Lesmo had been under police investigation since 2013 but that he hid that information from the archdiocese. The church has launched its own investigation into the allegations.

The alleged abuse occurred between 2009 and 2011. The alleged victim was a teenage boy who prostituted himself to fund his cocaine addiction.

The Cardinal appealed to parishioners for "unity" during these troubled times.

Abuse scandals

Child sex abuse allegations have dogged the Catholic Church for years in

scandals that were frequently made worse by the church's concealment of the problem.

In an effort to show that the church would now confront such abuses, Pope Francis has approved the creation of an internal church tribunal to punish bishops who cover up sex abuse by priests. But abuse victims are skeptical that much will change.

Allegations against priests began to surface nearly two decades ago, with victims breaking their silence in the United States, Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Mexico and Poland.

bik/jm (AFP, KNA)

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