Acquitted Cardinal acknowledges errors of governance

Acquitted Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France has admitted to errors in governance for not denouncing former priest Bernard Preynat’s sexual abuse of minors.

A week after the Court of Appeal in Lyon acquitted him Barbarin spoke of his “errors of governance” and discussed the “media tsunami” that has surrounded him in the past four years.

“This case will always be linked to me,” he said.

“The one who failed to denounce heinous acts. And, yet, justice has just said that it wasn’t up to me”.

“The act of judging is really a delicate task,” he said.

Barbarin said the last few years have changed him in relation to his understanding of the extent of damage sexual abuse causes.

“It was only at the end of 2014 that I suddenly became aware of the reality of the acts that were committed, of what they meant in concrete terms, of the suffering of the victims…” he said.

He also spoke of his “slip of the tongue” during a 2016 press conference in Lourdes when he said that “most of the facts, thank God” were outside the statute of limitations.

He called it a regretful remark that prevented any further explanation.

“I was dragged through the mud… Having said that, these attacks against me were beneficial. They’ve led to a general awakening (in the Church),” said the cardinal.

He also expressed surprise that the same thing has not happened in the world of culture, sports or education.

Even though he was not judged guilty of concealing sex abuse, Barbarin admitted his initial response to it was inadequate.

“I lacked courage and determination (…) I should have demanded, insisted; and I regret not having done so,” he said.

But he said it was not clear at the time what action he could have taken.

“For these old allegations, I knocked on all the doors of the institution and nobody was able to answer me,” he said.

The Court of Appeal acknowledged that, by stating it had found no evidence that Barbarin deliberately tried to obstruct justice.

The scourge of sexual abuse must be eradicated, Barbarin says and he thinks it’s surprising that the Church is getting hammered over it.

Speaking of the publicity over the scandal, Barbarin commented: “When there’s a media tsunami, there’s nothing more one can say. There’s only one solution: disappear.”

During the next week or so Barbarin is planning to resubmit his resignation as Archbishop of Lyon to Pope Francis.


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