In a Backslide for the Vatican, Pope Francis Refuses to Punish a French Cardinal Convicted of Failing to Report Abuse

Despite calling for an “all-out battle” on clergy sexual abuse less than a month ago, Pope Francis today declined to punish a French cardinal who was tried and convicted for failing to report allegations of clerical sexual abuse to police.

This story is a perfect example of why we believe that accountability within the Church hierarchy will only ever be possible when it is imposed by independent, secular officials in law enforcement and government. What more egregious crime could a prelate commit than hiding and perhaps enabling more child sex crimes? 

It is clear that French citizens believed that Cardinal Barbarin deserved punishment when they convicted him of a crime, yet apparently Pope Francis did not view this conviction as grounds for dismissal. We are deeply saddened that it took the Pope fewer than four weeks to abandon his tough rhetoric on clergy abuse and to revert to the church’s established pattern of minimization, obfuscation, and inaction.

Pope Francis has left it up to Cardinal Barbarin to do what is best for the Archdiocese of Lyon. For the protection of children and the prevention of abuse, we hope Cardinal Barbarin will self-impose the punishment he should have gotten from Pope Francis and step down from his position of power.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

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