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French Cardinal Barbarin under pressure for failure to remove accused priest

February 19, 2016

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France, is under pressure to resign after acknowledging that he allowed a priest to remain in parish ministry after learning that the priest had been accused of sexual abuse.

The cardinal revealed that he first learned of accusations against Father Bernard Peynat "around 2007-2008." The allegations against the priest dated back to the years between 1986 and 1991. At the time, Cardinal Barbarin said, he was assured that there had been no new charges since 1991. 

Cardinal Albert Decourtray, who was Archbishop of Lyon at the time, suspended Father Peynat for six months, but then restored him to active ministry. Cardinal Barbarin, who was installed as the leader of the Lyon archdiocese in 2002, allowed him to remain in parish work.

It was only in 2014, Cardinal Barbarin recalled, that he met with a victim who brought new charges of abuse against Father Peynat. After consulting with the Vatican, the cardinal removed the accused priest from ministry. 

"When I arrived in Lyon, I did not know anything" about the Peynat case, Cardinal Barbarin told La Croix. "By the time I learned the facts, there were no complaints." He explained that when he heard a credible charge against the priest, he took action to suspend him.

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