"THE MEMORY OF JESUS IS BOTH SACRED AND SUBVERSIVE"
Thursday, 30 November 2017
FRENCH CARDINAL IN COURT
French cardinal in court on charges of not reporting historical abuse
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin (R) welcoming French pilgrims before the arrival of Pope Francis Pope Francis in St Peter's Square earlier this year. (Getty Images)
The Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Barbarin, will attend court, alongside six other priests
The Archbishop of Lyon and six other priests are to be tried on charges of not reporting historical abuse, according to news channel France24.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and his co-defendants have been ordered to appear in court in April, for a trial expected to last three days.
The 66-year-old cardinal is accused of failing to report Fr Bernard Preynat to authorities after a former scout in 2014 accused the cleric of abusing him in the 1980s. Cardinal Barbarin left the priest in his post, where he had contact with children, until 2015. The cardinal denies any wrongdoing.
In 2016, Cardinal Barbarin was summoned as a witness on the request of the victims who filed the complaint against Preynat. He said at the time: “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.
In May the same year, Pope Francis defended Cardinal Barbarin, telling French Catholic newspaper La Croix: “Based on the information that I have, I believe that Cardinal Barbarin in Lyon took the necessary measures and that he has matters under control.”
With respect to the abuse scandal in the diocese, Pope Francis said: “It is not easy to judge the facts decades later in a different context, but there can be no statute of limitations for the church in this field. … As Benedict XVI said, there must be zero tolerance.”
Cardinal Barbarin was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI, and the 2013 conclave which elected Pope Francis.
It is good to see that one European country's authorities are not afraid to move against a senior Catholic Church figure over the historic abuse scandals.
Whether or not Cardinal Barbarin and his 6 clerical colleagues are found innocent or guilty will be a matter for the courts.
But, in principle, the French as doing us all a big favour by showing us that senior Catholic clerics are no longer exempt from the laws of the land.
For far too long now many countries in the world - especially in Europe - have been slow to act against bishops and cardinals.
But every priest, bishop, and cardinal is also a citizen of their country and they are as much bound by the law as any other citizen.
In Ireland particularly the government and the authorities showed far too much deference to clerics for too long.
I can remember when |Archbishop Dermot Ryan was evicting Father Michael Keane from a Templeogue presbytery the judge allowed Archbishop Ryan NOT to sit in court - but in a private room - where he was treated to tea and biscuits and when he was asked a question a court official was sent from the courtroom to the private to ask Ryan questions.
I can also remember that when I sued Father Michael Cleary for libel in the Dublin High Court the judge on my case was sitting in his chambers with a statue of Our Lady, a lit candle and a Rosary beads praying that I would not win!
MICHAEL "RASPUTIN" CLEARY
The one Irish senior cleric that should have been through the courts is Cardinal Sean "The Wounded Healer" Brady for his role in the cover-up of the Father Brendan Smyth case and his disgraceful CIA like interviews of two of Smyth's little boy victims.
Now that France - "The Eldest Daughter of the Church" is bringing cardinals and bishops to court hopefully that procedure will spread and that senior Catholic clerics will no longer be above the law anywhere.
The Catholic Hierarchy will only take abuse and corruption seriously when the public see bishops in handcuffs.
PS: Cardinal Barbarin's Archdiocese of Lyon had 743 parishes in 1970.