Lyon, March 8, 2019: France’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, has been given a six-month suspended sentence for his role in covering up the sexual abuse of minors.
Cardinal Barbarin was found guilty of failing to report allegations of assaults by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s.
He denied the charges. His lawyers now say he will appeal against the verdict.
Cardinal Barbarin’s sentencing comes as the Catholic Church reckons with a new wave of abuse scandals.
The cardinal, who held the position of Archbishop of Lyon, was not present for the verdict. During the trial, he told the court: “I cannot see what I am guilty of. I never tried to hide, let alone cover up these horrible facts.”
What are the abuse claims?
The claims relate to alleged abuses committed by priest Bernard Preynat, who is now 73 and who ran a boy-scout group in the Lyon area for many years. Dozens of men say he sexually assaulted them as children.
Preynat lawyer’s has said his client has admitted the allegations, but that the statute of limitations has expired. French officials argue that some of the offences can still be prosecuted and a criminal case has been opened against the priest.