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

Pope refuses resignation of French cardinal convicted of child abuse cover-up
Pope Francis and Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. Photo: AFP
The Pope has rejected the resignation of France's top cardinal, who has been convicted of a cover-up over child sexual abuse.

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.


(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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