Josephine McKenna, in Rome
An Italian priest has been forced to resign after a Rome court ordered his alleged lover to pay her estranged husband 15,000 euros (£13,400) for depression he suffered over their affair.
The court ruling came at the end of a five-year trial and is the latest in a string of sex scandals to rock the Catholic Church in Italy.
Father Vito Isacchi, the priest named in the court case, tendered his resignation in the archdiocese of L’Aquila on Tuesday after news of the court ruling was made public.
The woman, who has not been named, was ordered to pay thousands of euros, 45-year-old Father Isacchi, known as ‘Don Vito’, was excused from paying any compensation as the court found him “irrelevant” to any violation of the marriage.
In a surprise ruling, the court ordered the cuckolded husband to pay 3,200 euros as a contribution towards the priest’s sacred vestments.
The L’Aquila archdiocese expressed its regret and said Father Isaachi had repented for his actions but Isaachi resigned in a letter to the local archbishop, Monsignor Giuseppe Petrocchi, amid an outcry over the case.
“Don Vito recognizes his moral responsibility and asks forgiveness for the upset and suffering caused to the religious and social community,” the diocese said in a statement.
“In particular he has indicated he intends to reject the payment specifed by the sentence.”
Father Isacchi comes from the northern city of Bergamo and was transferred from his Rome parish to l’Aquila, 70 miles from the capital, in 2010 after news of the scandal broke.
The court ruling found he had no responsibility to pay compensation.
“The petitioner’s claim against the woman must be accepted and dismissed against the defendant Isacchi, as it presupposes a violation of the obligation of fidelity in the marriage, an obligation for which the third party (Isacchi) is completely irrelevant,” said the judgement, in excerpts published by Italian media.
The court sentence was issued a year ago and made final six months ago but just came to light this week.
Lawyers for the husband have urged the church to take further action against the priest who they say has violated canon law and his vow of celibacy.