French President Emmanuel Macron, left, greets Apostolic Nuncio to France Luigi Ventura during his New Year address to diplomats at the Elysee Palace in Paris. France's foreign ministry says that the Vatican has decided to lift the immunity of Ventura, who is accused of sexual assault. File photo: Yoan Valat, Pool via AP.

Paris/Rome - The Vatican has lifted the immunity of the papal ambassador to France, who is under suspicion of sexual assault, the French Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said it had received confirmation from the Vatican of the lifting of immunity after the Parisian public prosecutor forwarded a request to do so.

The public prosecutor began investigations into Luigi Ventura at the start of the year after it was alleged that Ventura had committed sexual assault at a ceremony in Paris's city halls.

Ventura is accused of molesting another man. Further men later made similar accusations.

The Vatican confirmed the lifting of immunity. The extraordinary measure shows that the pope's representative in Paris is ready to cooperate fully with the French judicial authorities, it said in a statement.

The Catholic Church has been in turmoil for years over worldwide reports of clerical sex abuse and the Vatican has repeatedly pledged to tackle the issue with reforms.

dpa