France is expected to send the second largest delegation of young people to the global religious celebrations planned by the Catholic church in Madrid later this month.

"/> France is expected to send the second largest delegation of young people to the global religious celebrations planned by the Catholic church in Madrid later this month.

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CATHOLIC

50,000 French Catholics head to Madrid

France is expected to send the second largest delegation of young people to the global religious celebrations planned by the Catholic church in Madrid later this month.

The French delegation of 50,000 will be beaten only by Italy with 85,000 attendees. The French contingent will be accompanied by 82 bishops. 

Despite being called World Youth Day, the event actually spans five days, from August 16th to 21st, and will include a visit from Pope Benedict XVI.

Around a million participants are expected at the event, which is held every three years. The last event was in Sydney in 2008.

“Everything I’ve heard says it will be an unforgettable experience,” 18-year old Anne-Claire told regional newspaper Ouest France. She will travel with 30 other young people from the town of Vitré, east of Rennes in Brittany.

A survey conducted for religious magazine La Vie says the average age of attendees from France is 20 with women making up 56 percent of the delegation. 

The poll said 54 percent of the people questioned go to church once a week. This compares to a national average in France of just 4 percent in the 18 to 25 age group.

When asked the main reasons for attending the Madrid event, the most cited were to “meet other christians”, “reinforce my faith”, “have a good time” and “show the world the importance of the catholic church.”

Madrid will be a busy place in mid-August as demonstrations against economic hardship continue. On Thursday night at least 20 were injured, including seven police officers, in clashes between protestors and riot police.

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CATHOLIC

Pope refuses resignation of French cardinal convicted of child abuse cover-up

The Pope has rejected the resignation of France's top cardinal, who has been convicted of a cover-up over child sexual abuse.

Pope refuses resignation of French cardinal convicted of child abuse cover-up
Pope Francis and Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. Photo: AFP

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin travelled to the Vatican on Monday to hand in his resignation after being handed a six-month suspended prison sentence for failing to report sex abuse by a priest under his authority.

However the Cardinal revealed on Tuesday that Pope Francis had refused to accept his resignation.

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(Pope Francis has refused to accept Barbarin's resignation, according to the Cardinal. Photo: AFP)

“Monday morning, I handed over my mission to the Holy Father. He spoke of  the presumption of innocence and did not accept this resignation,” said Barbarin in a statement.

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

The court in the southeastern French city of Lyon earlier this month found Barbarin guilty of  failing to report allegations that a priest, Bernard Preynat, had abused boy scouts in the Lyon area in the 1980s and 1990s.

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

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

Barbarin, an arch-conservative took over as archbishop in Lyon in 2002.

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.” 

But the court found otherwise, saying the archbishop, “in all conscience”, chose not to tell authorities of the abuse allegations “in order to preserve the institution to which he belongs”.

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