French court convicts cardinal of not reporting child abuse

Religion News Service | 3/7/2019 | Staff
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LYON, France (AP) — French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin said Thursday he will offer his resignation to Pope Francis after a court found him guilty of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse of minors by a priest.

The Lyon court’s surprise decision was seen by alleged victims as a victory for child protection and a strong signal to the Catholic Church.

Court - Barbarin - Prison - Sentence - Cases

The court handed Barbarin a six-month suspended prison sentence for not reporting the cases in the period between July 2014 and June 2015.

In a brief statement to the media, Barbarin said “I have decided to go and see the Holy Father to offer him my resignation.” He said he will meet Pope Francis “in a few days,” and expressed his “compassion” for the alleged victims.

Alleged - Victims - Rev - Bernard - Preynat

Alleged victims of the Rev. Bernard Preynat claim Barbarin and other church officials covered up for him for years, but the statute of limitations had expired on some charges and even the victims had expected that the cardinal would be acquitted.

Five other defendants were acquitted.

Court - Decision - Associated - Press - Barbarin

In the court’s decision, read by The Associated Press, magistrates wrote that Barbarin “had the obligation to report” accusations because the alleged victims didn’t request the ecclesiastic secrecy.

Alexandre Hezez, one of the alleged victims and among those who brought the case to trial, met Barbarin in November 2014 and kept informing him that there were probably other victims.

Barbarin - Doubt - Information - Court

“Cardinal Barbarin never showed any doubt about the information,” the court wrote.

Barbarin was not present at the Lyon court Thursday. His lawyer, Jean-Felix Luciani, said he will appeal.

Decision - Level - Luciani - Step - Justice

“This is a decision that is not fair at the juridical level,” Luciani said. He added: “We hope that at the next step, justice will be done.”

The Vatican didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Preynat - Boy - Scouts

Preynat has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts in the 1970s and ’80s and will...
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