Top court clears cardinal of concealing predator priest’s sex-abuse

France’s highest court for civil cases as cleared Catholic cardinal Philippe Barbarin (70) of concealing a predator priest’s sex abuse of minors.

The Court of Cassation agreed with an appeals court that ruled the nine victims who filed suit against Barbarin some five years ago could have directly filed a complaint against the now-defrocked priest, Bernard Preynat.

The victims, all then adults who were abused as children, took their case to the highest court after losing their appeal in January 2020.

The appeals court in Lyon said it found no intent by Barbarin to cover up Preynat’s abuse.

The charges against the cardinal put the Catholic Church’s past responses to clergy abuse under scrutiny around the world.

Barbarin was initially convicted in March 2019 of failing to report the predator priest and handed a six-month suspended sentence.

The former cardinal of Lyon has faced years of accusations, convictions and overturned decisions.

He was first made aware of former French Catholic priest Bernard Preynat’s predatory behaviour in 2010 after he summoned Preynat to explain years of rumours.

The cardinal testified at Preynat’s trial that the priest told him he had not touched a child since 1990, but he himself “lacked the courage” to take action.

In 2014 one of the victims, by then an adult, met with Barbarin to divulge the abuse he and others had suffered with Preynat.

In 2019 the court ruled that from July 2014 to June 2015 Barbarin covered up allegations of the predator priest’s sex abuse of boy scouts in the 1980s and early 1990s.

A subsequent court ruling found Lyon’s former cardinal not guilty of failing to report clerical sexual abuse.

The former priest responsible for the crimes against the boys, Preynat, is now 75 years old and ailing. He has acknowledged abusing more than 75 boys for decades.

Preynat was removed from the priesthood in 2019.


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