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Cardinal Philippe Barbarin Cardinal Philippe Barbarin  (ANSA)

France: Cardinal Barbarin acquitted of covering up clerical sexul abuse

The Appeals Court in Lyon has acquitted a French Cardinal who had been accused of failing to report abuse of minors in his Diocese.

By Vatican News

The Director of the Vatican Press Office released a statement on Thursday evening saying “The Holy See has learnt of the decision of Lyon’s Appeals Court regarding Cardinal Philippe Barbarin”.

In the statement, Matteo Bruni also said that Barbarin has once again put his ecclesial mandate back into the hands of Pope Francis “who continues to follow closely the unfolding of these painful events, and will communicate his decision in due time.”  

Bruni concludes noting that “together with the French Bishops’ Conference, the Holy See reaffirms its closeness to all the victims of abuse, in their suffering, and to their families and communities, and sustains the Church of Lyon, which is sorely tried.”

The Cardinal appeared before the Appeals Court of Lyon on 28 November. His lawyers had lodged an appeal against a six month suspended sentence for failing to report an abusive priest to police. That sentence was handed down by the Criminal Court of Lyon on 7 March 2019.

Barbarin, who has always declared himself innocent, announced his decision to go to Pope Francis to present his resignation, a resignation that the Pope did not accept on "presumption of innocence".

Pope Francis then entrusted the Cardinal with the freedom to make the best decision for the Diocese of Lyon, and at his suggestion, Barbarin resigned from his post and Archbishop Michel Dubost was appointed Apostolic Administrator on 24 June.

In a statement to the press, Cardinal Barbarin said that he had taken note "with serenity" of the Judges’ decision to overturn the sentence and uphold his appeal.

"My thoughts," he added, "go to the victims. Together with many other brothers and sisters I continue and will continue to pray every day for them and for their families".

Meanwhile, the accused defrocked priest, Bernard Preynat, accused of abusing more than 70 boys over two decades as a French scout chaplain in the 1970s is currently undergoing trial in the French Court system.  A verdict is expected in March and he could face up to 10 years in prison.

31 January 2020, 12:02