13 June 2016
by Tom Heneghan
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin’s decision not to report him to the authorities should play a central role
The appeals court in Lyon has ruled that sexual abuse allegations against a French priest are not covered by the statute of limitations, making it likely the case of Father Bernard Preynat could go to a trial at which Cardinal Philippe Barbarin’s decision not to report him to the authorities should play a central role.
Preynat is under judicial investigation for abusing four boy scouts between 1986 and 1991. He has admitted guilt and said his superiors knew of his activity.
Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon since 2002, was questioned for 10 hours by the police family protection brigade last week about his failure to report Preynat and his decision to remove him from ministry only last year, despite knowing of his case for some time.
Preynat’s lawyer has said he might appeal all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. A victims support group has urged Barbarin to ask Preynat not to do so.
The Lyon prosecutor must now decide whether to open a formal investigation against Barbarin for “non-denunciation of a crime”, which could lead to a trial, or to drop the case.
Barbarin’s lawyer Jean-Félix Luciani said the accusation against the cardinal was unfounded. “When he learned of the facts, he consulted Rome, which told him to give Fr Preynat a ministry where he would no longer have contact with children,” he told France24 television.