Trial against Philippe Barbarin © Pierre-Antoine Pluquet (CBA)
Parts of the criminal trial against French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for abuse cover-up, which ended in 2020, could be reopened. He may have to pay damages.
This was reported by the newspaper "La Croix" on Friday. On 17. March, the appeal filed by the civil plaintiffs would be considered by the Court of Cassation. The latter's prosecution advocates a "partial" annulment of the Lyon Court of Appeal's verdict, it said.
Cardinal could be held liable
The hearing before the Court of Cassation has no impact on the criminal aspect of the case, according to the report, and does not call into question the final criminal exoneration announced in January 2020.
But if the court followed the prosecutor, the cardinal could be held civilly liable to victims for possible damages. The decision would also have symbolic significance.
It has been going back and forth for some time
The legally tangled case had made headlines over several years and legal instances. In early 2020, Barbarin was acquitted of charges of failing to report sexual assault by the Lyon Court of Appeals. During the trial, in addition to Barbarin's lawyer, the prosecution had argued for an acquittal.
Previously, Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon and "Primate of Gaul" from 2002 to March 2020, was found guilty at first instance in March 2019 of failing to report abuse and sentenced to six months' probation. Ten former scouts and alleged victims of priest Bernard Preynat appeared as joint plaintiffs.
Barbarin had already been investigated in 2016 for failing to report cases of sexual abuse to state authorities. At the time, the prosecution closed the case after a few months; there had been no evidence of a crime by Barbarin. In a separate trial, Preynat, a priest, was sentenced to five years in prison in March 2020.
Barbarian doesn't want to be a 'symbol of pedophilia'
Barbarin has been living in a Breton village near Rennes since his premature resignation from office. He has written a book about the trials that lasted several years and the premature end of his term of office. "En mon ame et conscience" (In my soul and conscience) appeared in October.
Barbarin said at the time that he was suffering from having become a public "symbol of pedophilia" as a result of the trials. Such hostility would hit the less prominent abuser himself, priest Preynat, less. This would not have to be addressed or spat on the penalty. Preynat must finally publicly apologize, it said. Victims suffered for decades, much longer than himself.
Successor wants to look ahead
In late October, Pope Francis appointed Olivier de Germay (60), previously bishop of Ajaccio in Corsica, to succeed Barbarin in Lyon. De Germay said at his inauguration in December that Catholics in Lyon now finally want to "move forward" and "turn over a new leaf". He himself wants to do everything to restore the unity of the diocese, he said.