French cardinal questioned in priest sex abuse cases

2016-06-08 17:49
Roman Catholic Cardinal, Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin leads a mass in Saint-Jean cathedral in Lyon. (Jeff Pachoud, AFP)

Roman Catholic Cardinal, Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin leads a mass in Saint-Jean cathedral in Lyon. (Jeff Pachoud, AFP)

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Paris - French investigators questioned a prominent cardinal on Wednesday about alleged failures to report on suspected paedophilia by a priest under his watch, in the highest-profile church abuse investigation in France to date.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin has been under pressure for months since he was named in two investigations of accusations of sexual abuse of children by priests.

Barbarin, one of the highest-ranking figures in the French Catholic Church, is among several church officials accused of failing to report paedophile priests to judicial authorities. He has denied covering up abuse, but acknowledged some mistakes in handling and appointing priests.

Barbarin's lawyer, Andre Soulier, said the cardinal was being questioned on Wednesday in Lyon as part of normal proceedings. "He is a witness, and is being questioned as a witness," Soulier said. "We'll see how it goes."

Barbarin is being questioned in the case of Bernard Preynat, a priest charged with sexual aggression and rape of a minor and accused of abusing boy scouts in the 1980s. Barbarin says he was convinced the priest reformed in 2007-2008 when they met.

A Lyon court is scheduled to decide on Thursday whether the case can still be pursued or whether the alleged abuse happened too long ago to determine responsibility.

Some called for Barbarin's resignation after the investigations began, and France's prime minister called on Barbarin to take action.

Pope Francis recently expressed support for Barbarin, saying he shouldn't resign.

"Based on the information I have, I think in Lyon, Cardinal Barbarin has taken the necessary measures and has taken things well in hand," the pope said in an interview with French Catholic daily La Croix last month.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  france  |  religion  |  child abuse

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