A controversial Italian priest awaiting a criminal trial for sex abuse of minors has agreed to pay 125,000 euros in compensation to the families of five of his alleged victims, Italian media reported Thursday.
Mauro Inzoli, 66, was defrocked in 2012 after he was first accused of paedophilia but that decision was reversed in 2014, when Pope Francis ordered him to stay away from minors and retire to "a life of prayer and humble discretion."
An outcry over Inzoli's treatment led to criminal proceedings being initiated against him in the northern Italian town of Cremona but the Church has reportedly refused to hand over details of its own investigation.
The priest's trial has been set for June and at a preliminary hearing this week he agreed to pay 25,000 euros ($28,500) each to five families who had been considering becoming civil parties in it, according to reports.
Inzoli, dubbed "Don Mercedes" by the press for his penchant for luxury cars, will be tried for abusing minors aged between 10 and 16 years between 2004 and 2008. He faces up to 12 years in prison.
Inzoli is an ex-confessor of senators also known for his passion for cigars and high-end restaurants.
The perceived leniency of his treatment has angered critics who say the Church is still too reticent about handing paedophile priests over to the criminal authorities.
The Vatican insists that, under Francis's leadership, it has acted to root out behaviour the pontiff has compared to a "Satanic Mass."
Church tribunals have resulted in the defrocking of nearly 850 priest for sex abuse in the last decade, during which time hundreds of millions have been paid to settle compensation claims by victims of abuse.
In March, the Vatican admitted there was "still much to be done" to combat clerical paedophilia in many countries.