French cardinal goes on trial over child abuse cover up

Source:AFP Published: 2019/1/7 21:08:39

The highest-profile Catholic cleric to be caught up in a pedophile scandal in France went on trial on Monday charged with failing to report a priest who abused boy scouts in the 1980s and 90s.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon in southeastern France, is accused along with five others from his diocese of helping cover up abuse in one of the parishes in the area.

The 68-year-old bishop, one of the most prominent Catholic figures in France, arrived for the start of proceedings at a court in Lyon wearing a cap and leather jacket.

"The goal is to stop the same mistakes being repeated," Francois Devaux, a former scout who brought the allegations in Lyon to light, said shortly before the trial began.

Barbarin refrained from appearing publicly in church on Sunday, instead sending a message which was read out to worshippers.

"Ask unto God that the work of justice is done, ask also that he heals everything that needs to be healed in the hearts of victims of acts of pedophilia, which are as wrong as they are terrible," the message said.

He faces up to three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($54,000) if convicted of failing to report the abuse on minors. He denies the allegations.

The case is likely to hinge on whether he should have reported a priest under his responsibility to police once he learned about the allegations against him.

After initially saying he first knew about the allegations in 2014, he admitted in 2016 to having known about them for nearly a decade.

France's Catholic church has been roiled in recent years by claims against priests which have come to light in the wake of a global move by victims to come forward with evidence.

Posted in: EUROPE

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