• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Was French church child abuse covered up?
Victims say Archbishop Barbarin was among those who failed to report the priest. Photo: Safin Hamed/ AFP

Was French church child abuse covered up?

AFP · 5 Mar 2016, 11:37

Published: 05 Mar 2016 11:37 GMT+01:00

The victims alleged that senior figures in the diocese of Lyon, in eastern France, including Archbishop Philippe Barbarin failed to report the priest, who has been charged with sexually abusing minors between 1986 and 1991, to police.

A formal investigation was opened on January 27 after Bernard Preynat, the priest, admitted he sexually abused young Scouts over 25 years ago.

His lawyer, Federic Doyez, said Preynat told the judge that “the facts had been known by the church authorities since 1991”, when he was expelled from the independent Scouts group he had led for nearly 20 years.

In an interview earlier this year, Barbarin, 65, said he had been made aware of the priest’s behaviour “around 2007-8” and the Vatican earlier gave the cardinal its backing, saying it had confidence he would deal with the matter “with great responsibility”.

Pope Francis, however, has previously said that any bishop who moves priest knowing him to be a paedophile is reckless and should resign.    

“This comment does not in any way target Cardinal Barbarin who quite rightly suspended Father Preynat after meeting a first victim and taking advice from Rome, and this, even before a first official complaint was made,” a source close to the cardinal said.

The probe comes a day after Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell admitted he should have done more to follow-up on claims a priest was abusing boys.

Pell was giving evidence on Thursday to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney via video link from Rome.

‘Crimes and cover-ups’

Pell has claimed at least two archbishops and other people in authority all deceived him by not revealing what was happening during a period of what he called “crimes and cover-ups”.

Earlier on Friday, the Vatican also defended the Church’s action on paedophile priests, saying popes Francis and Benedict XVI had “courageously” tackled the issue but admitting there was still much to be done in many countries.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said “sensationalism” surrounding the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight” and hearings into the alleged cover-up of abuse by Cardinal Pell had given the public the wrong impression.

The media furore surrounding both events “meant that most people, particularly those less well informed or with a short memory, think the Church has done nothing or very little to answer to these horrible tragedies”, he said.

Story continues below…

“An objective consideration shows it is not true,” he added in a statement.

Some abuse victims insist the Vatican still has not gone far enough to protect children even in the West—where intense media coverage of paedophile priests has led to greater scrutiny of church practices.

“Spotlight,” which chronicles The Boston Globe’s investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and institutional efforts to cover up the crimes, won the Oscar for best picture last month.

Today's headlines
BREAKING
Priest killed as knifemen take hostages at French church
Photo: AFP

Two men armed with knives killed a priest after taking several people hostage at a French church, before being shot dead by police on Tuesday.

One dead after violent clashes in Calais migrant camp
The "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: AFP

An Ethiopian has died after he was stabbed in the chest during clashes at the Calais migrant camp.

Nice attack: Two more suspected accomplices held
Photo: AFP

One of the arrested men was reportedly in a photo with the killer beside the truck used in the attack.

Nice security row rumbles on as minister files lawsuit
Photo: AFP

Despite the efforts of the French president the controversy over the security arrangements on the night of the Nice attack won't go away.

Air France strike to see 30 percent of flights grounded
Photo: AFP

Here's what to do if you are affected by the one-week Air France strike that begins on Wednesday.

Pokémon Go sparks chaos and concern in France
Teenagers sprint through a park in Bordeaux, not in panic, but in search of a rare Pokemon. Photo: MonsieurBright/YouTube

Videos of hundreds of people sprinting through a park would normally be cause for panic in France at the moment.

The ten places where you really need to speak French
Photo: Lily A./Flickr

There are some places and situations in France where you just have to speak French.

Isis can be a conduit for psychopaths' violent desires
A pilce of rubbish marks the spot where Nice truck attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was shot by police.

Isis did not create these attackers, they were well on their way.

Angry Marseille Muslim ends up in war of words with Isis
Photo: Facebook Henni Mohamed/AFP

"Who do you think you are, the Power Rangers?" Marseille man's foul-mouthed fighting talk provokes Isis to respond.

Thousands of travellers face seven-day Air France strike
Photo: mariordo59/Flickr

The strike is set to run from July 27th to August 2nd and as many as 130,000 passengers could be affected.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
2,766
jobs available