Cardinal Barbarin may not be innocent, says Pope

Pope Francis says it’s possible French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin “is not innocent.”

His comment was made in response to questions from French media about the Cardinal of Lyon during an in-flight press conference after his visit to Morocco last weekend.

Last month Barbarin was found guilty on one count of failure to report a charge of sexual abuse against one of his priests, for which he received a six-month suspended sentence.

Although Barbarin said he will appeal the decision, he submitted his resignation to the pope on 18 March.

Francis refused it, saying in international law, as long as the judicial cause is open, the accused is presumed innocent.

After the appeal process ends with a definitive ruling “we’ll see what happens,” he said.

Despite Francis’s stance, a special meeting of Lyon priests, deacons and lay people on 26 March voted that Barbarin should resubmit his resignation to Pope Francis within three months to end the uncertainty hanging over the archdiocese.

The meeting was called by Fr Yves Baumgarten, the vicar general appointed after Barbarin stepped aside following his conviction.

Participants at the meeting said 48 of the 50 people present supported the call for Barbarin to resubmit his resignation.

Afterwards, Baumgarten said it was “necessary to find a quick solution to the current crisis of governance so we can take a just and authentic look at these recent years.” He was due to contact the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops to discuss the situation.



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