|Cardinal Philippe Barbarin|
Another day, another explosive story implicating a member of the high Roman Catholic hierarchy in covering up sexual abuse crimes by priests. This time, the center of the expose is a top cardinal in France. Meanwhile, the Vatican is going to great lengths to pretend that it is finally going to take seriously the issue of sexual abuse of children and youths by Catholic clergy. As Catholic Culture notes, Pope Francis was supposedly going to take firm action to deal with bishops and cardinals who aided and abetted predator priest and engaged in cover ups. However, NOTHING is being done to follow through on the commitment and even this Vatican friendly outlet states that it is time for action not merely more disingenuous words:
[T]he Associated Press released a stunning report that in the nine months since Pope Francis created a tribunal to discipline bishops who neglect abuse, nothing has been done to make that tribunal a reality. Office space has not been arranged; staff has not been appointed. The Pope has not even named an official to head up the new office.To make matters worse, the AP reported that the June 2015 announcement of the new tribunal came as a surprise to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was to be the home of the new body. So it appeared that the announcement had been made in haste, to ward off the persistent complaints that the Vatican was not holding bishops accountable, and then nothing had been done to follow up.
Pope Francis has been widely praised—and rightly so—for his firm statements of determination to punish abusers, and his promises to hold bishops accountable for their handling of the problem. Now his credibility is on the line. If the Vatican does not take concrete action soon, firm statements and fine promises will not hold off the critics much longer.
As for the abuse cover up by Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Tellingly, while the Vatican has failed to act, the good Cardinal is facing prosecution by French authorities. The Daily Beast has these details:
For all those who say that the Catholic Church is doing all it can on clerical child sex abuse—namely the Vatican press office—there is yet another reason to doubt those lofty words. Meet the Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who has denied he did anything wrong by hiding the well-known fact that Father Bernard Preynat was sexually abusing as many as 40 Catholic Scouts in France in the late 1980s and early 1990s.Preynat was relieved of his duties in the parish of Roanne in 2015 after admitting to the sex abuse. He was indicted on Jan. 27 on charges of “sexual abuse and rape of minors” and has admitted his crimes to the police.
The 45 Scout victims who lodged the complaint that led to Preynat’s arrest share horrifically similar stories of abuse.Meanwhile, Cardinal Barbarin is facing criminal charges by a French secular court for “failing to report a crime” and “endangering the life of others,” which could carry a three-year prison sentence and fines up to €45,000. He maintains that he shouldn’t be accused at all because he eventually removed Preynat from parish work.
Never mind that the removal came nearly 15 years after his crimes were made known. After victims and their families came forward in 1991, Preynat was removed him from parish duties for six months by the then-archbishop, who is now deceased. Yet despite having confessed to the crimes, Preynat was allowed to return to his active duties after he repented, meaning he had access to children despite admitting to being a pedophilic sex offender.
The cardinal is now arguing that he should not be criminally charged because he was not archbishop at the time of Preynat’s crimes, and that he did eventually remove the priest from active duty. But it is not enough to remove an errant priest from a parish or even defrock him, argue victims groups. David Clohessy, head of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), says any child sex-abuse offender should be turned over to secular authorities immediately and should be remanded in prison whether they wear a clerical collar or not.“Hundreds of bishops have been publicly exposed as having protected predators, endangered kids, deceiving parishioners, misleading police, destroying evidence, intimidating victims, threatening whistleblowers, and discrediting witnesses and suffer no consequences,” Clohessy told The Daily Beast.What’s most troubling in Barbarin’s case is that Pope Francis made promises last September during his American trip that he would see to it that any bishops who were involved in the cover-up would be forced to resign. “You must not cover up, and even those who covered up these things are guilty,” Francis told reporters on his plane back to Rome.So why is Barbarin not being forced out? Preynat’s lawyer, Federic Doyez, told the French judge that Barbarin knew about the abuse. “The facts had been known by the church authorities since 1991,” he said.Victims groups will be watching the events closely to see if French justice will set a precedent for other countries. “The pope’s refusal to honor this promise is yet another reminder that keeping kids safe in the Catholic Church is a burden that increasingly falls on brave victims, secular authorities and church members—especially whistleblowers,” says Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director.[T]hree years into the job, it remains certain that the pope’s promise to do something about the continuing clerical abuse and cover-up leaves little to celebrate.