The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis had rejected the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin from his post as archbishop of Lyon, after a French court convicted Barbarin of failing to report an abusive priest.
“I can confirm that the Holy Father has not accepted the resignation tendered by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon,” said the interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti.
Cardinal Barbarin traveled to Rome to meet with Pope Francis Monday, at which time he tendered his resignation as archbishop.
On March 7, a French court found Barbarin guilty of having failed to report Father Bernard Preynat, a priest who was accused by numerous victims of having carried out dozens of acts of sexual abuse of minors in boy scout camps between 1986 and 1991. The priest has confessed to some of these crimes to police.
The court delivered the prelate a suspended sentence of six months in prison. Named archbishop of Lyon in 2002, Barbarin is the first high-ranking Catholic prelate to be convicted of covering up clerical sex abuse and endangering minors.
“Monday morning, I delivered over my mission to the Holy Father. He did not accept this resignation, invoking the presumption of innocence,” Barbarin said in a statement Tuesday.
The cardinal said he would remain in Lyon pending his appeal, but added that he would step back from his job “for a little while,” allowing his vicar general, Father Yves Baumgarten, to take over the running of the diocese during that time.
The Vatican spokesman offered a similar explanation to the press:
“Aware, however, of the difficulties that the archdiocese is going through at this time, the Holy Father has left Cardinal Barbarin free to make the best decision for the diocese and Cardinal Barbarin has decided to withdraw for a period of time and has asked Father Yves Baumgarten, his vicar general, to take over the running of the diocese,” the spokesman said.
“The Holy See hastens to reiterate its closeness to the victims of abuse, to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Lyon and to the whole Church of France, who are going through a particularly painful moment,” he concluded.
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