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French premier pushes cardinal to take responsibility for priest's abuse

March 15, 2016

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called upon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon to "take responsibility" for sexual abuse by a priest in that archdiocese.

After a charge of abuse was lodged against Father Bernard Peynat in January, it emerged that he had been previously been the subject of complaints between 1986 and 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.

Cardinal Barbarin has said that he became aware of the past complaints against Father Peynat “around 2007-2008.” He reports that he confronted the priest, and was assured that there had been no incidents since 1991. In 2014, after hearing of new accusations, the cardinal removed the 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 stressed that he has never covered up evidence of sexual abuse.

 
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