Tue, Mar 19, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Convicted French cardinal to tender resignation to pope

AFP, VATICAN CITY

French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who received a six-month suspended jail sentence for failing to report sexual abuse by a priest under his authority, was yesterday to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican to tender his resignation.

The private meeting was expected to take place at about 9am, his diocese said, with the pontiff to decide within weeks whether to accept the resignation.

The pope has previously defended the cardinal, saying in 2016 that his resignation before a trial would be “an error, imprudent.”

Barbarin was not expected to speak publicly.

Francis last month said that “no abuse must ever be covered up, as has happened in the past” or be underestimated.

Barbarin, 68, is the most senior French cleric caught up in the global pedophilia scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.

After his March 7 conviction, he said that he would travel to Rome to tender his resignation.

The court in the southeastern French city of Lyon found Barbarin guilty of failing to report allegations that priest Bernard Preynat had abused Boy Scouts in the Lyon area in the 1980s and 1990s.

Preynat, who was charged in 2016, is expected to be tried this year.

Barbarin’s lawyer immediately announced plans to fight the landmark ruling, which was hailed by abuse victims as ushering in a new period of accountability in the French Church.

It remains to be seen if the pope accepts the resignation ahead of the appeal judgement.

The trial comes as Francis battles to restore faith in the Church following a slew of abuse scandals that have spanned the globe, from Australia to Chile and the US.

Less than a week after Barbarin’s conviction, the Vatican’s former No. 3, Australian Cardinal George Pell, was sentenced to six years in prison by a Melbourne court for the “brazen” sexual abuse of two choirboys.

Barbarin, an archconservative who took over as archbishop of Lyon in 2002, is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage.

He had long been accused by victims’ groups in Lyon of turning a blind eye to child abuse in his diocese, which blighted dozens of lives.

“I cannot see what I am guilty of,” Barbarin told the court at the start of the trial in January. “I never tried to hide, let alone cover up, these horrible facts.”

Two other senior French religious figures have been convicted of failing to report child abuse in the past: Pierre Rican, the archbishop of Bayeux-Lisieux, in 2001, and former bishop of Orleans Andre Fort last year.

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