Pope rejects Cardinal Barbarin’s resignation

Pope Francis rejected Cardinal Philippe Barbarin’s offer to resign after they met in the papal office on Monday.

Barbarin (68) offered his resignation as the archbishop of Lyon after receiving a six-month suspended prison sentence for the non-disclosure of sexual abuse against minors.

He is appealing the sentence.

He immediately offered his resignation for the good of the archdiocese. This was partly because he doesn’t think he ought to govern any more and also because of his recent conviction.

On Tuesday the archdiocese of Lyon said Francis had declined Barbarin’s resignation “on presumption of his innocence” until the appeals process is completed.

Alessandro Gisotti from the Holy See Press Office says the Holy Father left Cardinal Barbarin free to make the most appropriate decision for his diocese.

As a result, Barbarin has temporarily stepped aside in favour of the Vicar General Moderator, Father Yves Baumgarten.

“At his suggestion and because the Church of Lyon has been suffering for three years, I decided to step away for a while and leave the leadership of the diocese to the vicar general,” Barbarin said.

Given that the Vatican meeting in February on the protection of minors insisted on the accountability of bishops, it was thought Francis would accept the cardinal’s resignation.

This was because Barbarin knew of the relevant offences and did not denounce the grave sexual abuse of minors committed by one of the priests in his diocese, Father Bernard Preynat.

Barbarin’s lawyers were concerned that had Francis accepted his resignation, it would give the impression that Francis had acknowledged the cardinal’s guilt before any definitive decision by the French judicial system.

Furthermore, Barbarin’s lawyers are said to have sent the pope a note to this effect explaining that, according to them, there will no doubt be an acquittal before the court of appeal.

Neither do they think Barbarin should pay for the more serious errors made by his predecessors.


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