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CRIME

French cardinal who failed to report child sex abuse is to resign today

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

French cardinal who failed to report child sex abuse is to resign today
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin will offer his resignation today. Photo: AFP

The private meeting is expected to take place around 0900 GMT, according to  his diocese, with the pontiff to decide within weeks whether to accept his  resignation.   

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

Barbarin is not expected to speak publicly.

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Fran cis said in February that “no abuse must ever be covered up, as has happened in the past”, or be under-estimated.

Barbarin, 68, is the most senior French cleric caught up in the global  paedophilia scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church. He said after his 
March 7 conviction 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 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.   

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 however if the pope will accept his resignation ahead of the appeal judgement.

His 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 United States.

Less than a week after Barbarin's conviction the Vatican's former number three, 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 arch-conservative who took over as archbishop in Lyon in 2002, was 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.” 

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”.

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 the former bishop of Orleans, Andre Fort, last  year.

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CRIME

French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

France’s Economy Minister has praised the work of Bordeaux law officers, after they seized more than 2.4 tonnes of cannabis resin with an estimated street value in excess of €19 million.

French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

Bruno Le Maire and Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal in a joint statement: “Once again, Customs distinguished itself with an exceptional seizure of cannabis, recalling its key role in the fight against drug trafficking. We congratulate the customs officers for their daily commitment to the protection of our fellow citizens.”

Two people were taken into custody after officers stopped a lorry from Spain on the A63, near the Saugnac-et-Muret toll area, just south of Bordeaux, on Monday.

According to Le Figaro, the drugs were hidden in side compartments of the lorry, and concealed by its stated load of wheat, and were discovered by a sniffer dog during the stop.

In total, 2,414.8kg of cannabis resin and 9.75kg of cannabis herb were intercepted by the Bordeaux brigade, with an estimated value of more than €19 million on the illicit market.

Since the end of July, 2022, Customs officials have seized nearly 73 tonnes of drugs, including 41.2 tonnes of cannabis.

The French drugs squad is now investigating to determine the point of origin of the drugs, as well as their destination and the crime network behind the smuggling attempt.

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