“Release of Cardinal Barbarin during His Appeal Trial,” headlined at midday Vatican News on Thursday, January 30, 2020.
For his part, on Thursday evening the Director of the Holy See Press Office made a statement, in Italian and French, by which the Holy See takes note of the judgment and of the Cardinal’s decision to present his resignation again: “The Holy See learned of the judgment rendered by the Court of Appeal of Lyon against Cardinal Philippe Barbarin as well as his decision to hand over once again his charge to the Pope.”
He repeated the Church’s solicitude for the victims: “With the Conference of the Bishops of France, the Holy See repeats its proximity to all the victims of abuse, whose suffering it measures, to their families and to the whole community.”
And he addressed the diocese: The Holy See “is next to the Church of Lyon harshly tested.”
However, the Pope will announce his decision later. “The Holy Father, who continues to follow closely the unfolding of these painful events, will make his decision known in due time.”
Vatican Radio recalled that the “Archbishop of Lyon was judged on appeal for non-denunciation of sexual abuse on minors, in the framework of accusations regarding the former priest Bernard Preynat.” The Public Prosecutor had asked for the release at the end of the appeal trial.
The Cardinal announced at the end of the afternoon that he would present again his resignation to Pope Francis from his charge as Archbishop of Lyon. “This decision enables the opening of a new chapter. I’m going to hand over my charge as Archbishop of Lyon to the Pope. I’m going to renew my request to him.”
“The Court of Appeal of the Correctional Tribunal of Lyon rendered its decision this Thursday, January 30, 2020. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, sentenced in the first instance to six months suspended imprisonment, is finally released at the end of his appeal trial, in keeping with the requisitions of the Advocate General, formulated at the end of the hearings held last November,” explained “Vatican News.”
The same source recalls also that “Francois Devaux, President of La Parole Liberee Association, said he was ready to appeal to the Court of Cassation if the court followed the requirements of the Advocate General”: the civil parties have five days to do so.
Cardinal Barbarin, Already in Self-Imposed Withdrawal
In regard to the previous events of February 26, 2013, the judges considered that Cardinal Philippe Barbarin ”should have denounced the facts reported, especially after his meeting with Bernard Preynat in 2010, when the priest confessed all, but the facts are prescribed,” specified Lyon Capitale. The judges held that “the obligation to denounce doesn’t exist except if the person on whom this obligation weighs of knowledge of specific information on the facts of bad treatment of minors,” which is what the civil parties contest.
Lyon Capitale also quotes a lawyer of Cardinal Barbarin, Me Soulier: “One cannot invent the imprescriptibility of a crime. If a trial is to be done in the Church, it is each one’s choice but one must not designate an expiatory victim. It’s necessary to be more lucid. I have been a lawyer for over 60 years. I have known wars, the consequences of the Shoa. One can’t say everything and anything. I beg the young, the future of our country, to reflect before accusing someone.”
As regards the government of the diocese, one of Cardinal Barbarin’s lawyers announced at the end of November that his client was going to “leave Lyon.” For the time being, the diocese of Lyon is under the leadership of Monsignor Michel Dubost, appointed Apostolic Administrator, Cardinal Barbarin remaining in title, Archbishop. Monsignor Dubost met with Pope Francis last Friday, January 24. The Pope refused Cardinal Barbarin’s resignation because of the “presumption of innocence.”
Press Release of the Bishops of France
In a press release of the Conference of Bishops of France (CBF), signed by its President, Monsignor Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, Archbishop of Rheims, the Bishops take note “of the decision of justice.” The CBF assures Cardinal Barbarin “of its fraternal communion in this new phase of his life that opens to the service of Christ and of the Church.”
Addressing itself to Bernard Preynat’s victims, the CBF adds that it “assures its gratitude to the victim persons who spoke and speak for the labor of truth that they make possible.”
The CBF also affirms its commitment to eradicate abuses. “It repeats its determination to pursue the necessary work in face of sexual abuses or of power so that they are no longer reproduced in the Church.”
For his part, Bernard Preynat was the object of an ecclesiastical trial and he was dismissed from the clerical state last summer, recalls “Vatican News.” “ His criminal trial was held from last January 14-17, in the framework of a separate procedure from that concerning Cardinal Barbarin. The Public Prosecutor of the Republic required against the former priest an eight-year prison sentence for multiple sexual aggressions committed on young boys 7 to 15 years of age. The verdict will be rendered on March 16.”