A prominently anti-gay French cardinal has been accused of turning a blind eye to pedophile priests abuse in his diocese.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, faces accusations of covering up pedophilia crimes despite a priest admitting to them.
French authorities have started a criminal investigation into the allegations, involving not just the Archbishop but wider parts of the Church’s hierarchy.
Father Bernard Preynat, a priest in the archdiocese, admitted to sexually abusing boy scouts between 1986 and 1991, according to AFP.
The International Business Times, among others, report Preynat admitted to at least 40 cases of sexual abuse, leading to the case being called the French Spotlight in reference to the Oscar-winning film on the Boston child abuse scandal.
The allegations against the priest first came to light in 1991, over a decade before Barbarin took over the archdiocese.
At the time, Preynat was temporarily removed from parish work which gave him access to children, but was allowed to return when he repented for what he did.
If the courts decide to charge him, Barbarin could be tried for failing to report a crime as well as endangering the life of others.
The Archbishop said he didn’t believe he did something wrong, as Preynat’s crimes happened before Barbarin took over the archdiocese in 2002 – five years before he heard of the allegations against his priest.
In 2007, he promoted Preynat, whose new work, which saw the priest help with running six dioceses gave him ‘access to even more children’, IB reports.
He was finally expelled from the priesthood in 2015, in light of an investigation into the priest’s crimes.
Archbishop Barbarin is one of France’s best-known opponents of same-sex marriage.
When the government debated the marriage equality bill, he claimed same-sex marriage ‘could have innumerable consequences’ and lead to polygamy and, eventually, incest.