French court overturns earlier guilty verdict on cardinal Barbarin


January 30, 2020

A French appeals court on Thursday overturned an earlier ruling against Philippe Barbarin, a Roman Catholic cardinal who was convicted last year of failing to report sexual abuse charges.

Barbarin, 69, had been the highest-profile cleric to be caught up in a child sex abuse scandal in the French Catholic Church.

He was given a six-month suspended sentence in March 2019 but he denied the allegations and appealed the ruling.

The Lyon court had ruled that from July 2014 to June 2015 Barbarin covered up allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts in the 1980s and early 1990s by former French Catholic priest Bernard Preynat.

The trial for Preynat, who faces charges of abusing dozens of boy scouts, began this month.

Barbarin’s trial has put Europe’s senior clergy in the spotlight at a time when Pope Francis is under fire for the church’s response to a sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed the church, damaging its standing around the globe.

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