an interview with Le Monde, published ahead of the Aug. 15 Feast
of the Assumption celebration, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin
reiterated that he had never concealed acts of sexual abuse by
Father Bernard Preynat, a priest under his authority.
Preynat is accused of sexually abusing Catholic boy scouts
during the 1980s and early 1990s. He is due to appear before a
court next month. Preynat's lawyer has said the priest admits
the abuse but that the cases have passed the legal statute of
limitations when they were reported.
Prosecutors in 2016 extensively questioned Barbarin, one of
France's top Catholic clerics, over why Preynat's activities had
not been reported to civil authorities earlier before dropping
their investigation into allegations of a cover-up.
Barbarin told Le Monde he became aware of Preynat's activities
in 2007. When he "knocked on doors" for advice nobody gave him a
satisfactory answer, he said.
"I myself realize that my response at the time was inadequate,"
Barbarin told the newspaper.
No priest would again be welcomed into his archdiocese without
written assurance from their bishop that there was no complaint
or criminal conviction against them, Barbarin said. Compulsory
training has also been introduced for priests under his
Barbarin has been summoned as a witness on the request of the
victims who filed the complaint against Preynat.
Barbarin said he understood their anger.
"Their suffering is as painful today as it was 30 years ago. For
them, it is appalling and unacceptable that he was allowed to
carry on serving as a priest," Barbarin said.
The archbishop said he respected next month's summons and urged
Pope Francis to meet the victims at a later date too
Sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests first made
headlines in the U.S. in 2002, when a newspaper investigation
revealed U.S. bishops had moved abusers from parish to parish
instead of defrocking them.
(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Alison Williams)
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