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French cardinal apologizes for abuse; supporter notes prelate acted promptly on complaints

March 24, 2016

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France, has issued an apology for sexual abuse by priests of the archdiocese.

In a March 24 statement, the cardinal quoted the words of Pope Francis, saying that he was “obliged to assume all the evil committed by some priests, and personally apologize for the damage they have caused.”

The cardinal has been under heavy criticism because of revelations of abuse that occurred before he took over leadership of the Lyon archdiocese. “I know what must be done on current cases,” he said. “But what to do with these old cases?” Cardinal Barbarin has repeatedly insisted that he has never covered up evidence of abuse, and has taken action promptly on complaints.

Although opinion surveys show that a majority of the French public believes that the cardinal should resign, the available facts seem clearly to support his claim. In a guest essay for the Crux site, Amicie Pelissie Du Rausas argues that the cardinal’s resignation would serve no useful purpose, and writes:

In both 2006 and 2014, Barbarin took immediate action as soon as he heard of the accusations, sacking the incriminated priests, keeping them under strict surveillance, and collaborating with the police, as he has again said he will do. The police have confirmed this.


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