A French prosecutor on Monday dismissed a probe into allegations that Cardinal Philippe Barbarin covered up the sexual abuse of boy scouts, in a case that threatened to derail the career of France’s most prominent clergyman.
Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon since 2002 and France’s highest-ranking Catholic prelate, had been accused of failing to remove a priest from his diocese when he became aware the man had sexually abused young boys 25 years ago.
The cardinal has said he learned in 2007 that the priest, Bernard Preynat, had been accused of sexually abusing scouts in the past.
Preynat was only charged in January after a victim who was allegedly abused in the 1980s realised in 2015 that the priest was still in service. Several other victims have also come forward.
Barbarin has said that when he learned of the priest’s past he immediately called a meeting with him and when he asked Preynat if he had committed further abuses since 1991 the priest swore he had not.
“You can reproach me for having believed him… but covering up means knowing and letting it happen,” Barbarin said, adding he had “absolutely never” done that.
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