rench Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, Aug. 29, 2008. RNS photo courtesy of Reuters/Charles Platiau

French cardinal accused of cover-up in widening abuse scandal

By  Elizabeth Bryant, Religion News Service
  • March 16, 2016

PARIS - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on a prominent cardinal to “assume his responsibilities” amid widening allegations of a pedophilia cover-up targeting Lyon’s Roman Catholic diocese.

In an interview with BFM TV on March 15, Valls refused to comment on whether Cardinal Philippe Barbarin should step down.

The archbishop of Lyon, Barbarin has been accused of covering up alleged sexual abuse of young boy scouts by Lyon priest Bernard Preynat between 1986 and 1991 — before Barbarin was named cardinal.

Last week, the Lyon prosecutors’ office announced preliminary charges against Barbarin and five other members of the diocese for “nondenunciation of a crime.”

Preynat was removed from service last year after his accusers came forward.

Meanwhile, France’s Le Figaro newspaper reported separate sexual abuse allegations involving another Lyon priest, who has been suspended from his duties but is still serving as a priest.

“Is this the start of a Spotlight’a la Francaise?” Le Figaro asked, referring to the Academy Award-winning movie now playing in France.

Identified by an assumed name, “Pierre,” the accuser in the initial case — now a 42-year-old father of two — said he met Preynat during a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Prosecutors have opened a preliminary inquiry.

Pierre told the newspaper he had approached Barbarin in 2009 after a doctor urged Pierre to press charges.

The cardinal reportedly apologized on behalf of the priest, whom he acknowledged had a “problem,” notably earning a year’s suspended prison sentence more than a decade ago for exhibitionism.

Contacted by the newspaper, the priest said he had “no memory” of the alleged incident.

For his part, Barbarin has steadfastly denied any cover-up, an argument he repeated on Tuesday.

“Never, never, never have I covered up any act of pedophilia,” he said at a press conference in Lourdes.

The cardinal said he had suspended the second priest of his duties “until justice has been done.”

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.