Dishonored Archbishop Gives Last Mass

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PARIS The Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, said his last mass at Saint John’s Cathedral Sunday morning after being in the middle of a storm for failing to report the actions of one of his priests.

The cleric was shot dead in a scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in France from 2019 after former priest Bernard Preynat was the subject of multiple charges of sexual abuse.

Cardinal Barbarin was the most prominent cleric in the Catholic Church in France after being tried for the scandal. He served for 17 years as archbishop of Lyon.

Preynat, 74, was tried in January for abusing dozens of young boys between 1971 and 1991 when he was a scout chaplain in the Sainte-Foy-les-Lyon region in eastern France. The boys were all between the ages of seven and 15 when the abuse occurred in the weekend camps organized by Preynat.

He was convicted on March 16 and sentenced to five years in prison for his crimes. A Catholic court had already defrocked it in July 2019.

Those who accused Preynat also accused church leaders – of which Barbarin was a member – of having concealed his actions, thereby allowing Preynat to remain in office.

After learning of an accuser’s transgressions in 2014 and hearing even older rumors in 2010, Barbarin reported him to the Vatican. However, he did not bring the allegations to the local police.

In March 2019, Barbarin was charged with concealing Preynat’s conduct and offered his resignation to Pope Francis in light of the mounting pressure.

The pope, however, wanted to follow the appeal process to the end. Barbarin was finally given a suspended six-month prison sentence. During his appeal trial in November 2019, the cardinal pleaded innocent, suggesting that he could have done nothing more after following the Vatican instructions to the letter.

During Sunday Mass, protesters gathered outside on the steps of the cathedral.

“I find it absolutely scandalous that we are organizing a ceremony for Cardinal Barbarin,” said a local Lyon protester. “It is despicable. ”

Barbarin will now settle in Rennes, where he will assume the title of chaplain, a lesser role where he will work alongside official members of the clergy.

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