PARIS – A top French cardinal convicted of covering up allegations of child sex abuse by a priest said on Tuesday that the Pope has rejected his resignation.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of the southeastern city of Lyon, was found guilty of failing to report accusations against Bernard Preynat, a priest in his Archdiocese.
“On Monday morning, I put forward my resignation to the hands of the Holy Father,” Barbarin said in a statement.
“Invoking the presumption of innocence, he declined to accept this resignation,” he added.
The 68-year-old cardinal had traveled to the Vatican City to personally hand in his letter of resignation.
Barbarin said that the pontiff gave him the freedom to take the decision he felt was best for the diocese.
He added that on the Pope’s suggestion, and due to the fact the church of Lyon had been suffering for three years, he would retire for a period of time.
Barbarin has led the Archdiocese in Lyon, one of the most prestigious archbishoprics in the French Catholic church, for 17 years.
In early March a court handed him a six month suspended sentence for failing to report sexual abuse accusations against Preynat .
The sentence also included a symbolic settlement fee of one euro to each of the alleged victims.
The allegations of abuse dated back to a 20 year period between 1970 and 1990.
The court also found Barbarin had covered up reports on child sexual abuse in 2014/15.
A statement issued by the church said Barbarin would be stepping back effective Tuesday.
The management of the Archdiocese of Lyon will be temporarily handed over to Yves Baumgarten, vicar-general and moderator of the diocese.
Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See press office, said in a statement: “I can confirm that the Holy Father has not accepted the resignation presented by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon.”
He added: “The Holy See wishes to reiterate its proximity to the victims of abuse, with the faithful of the Archdiocese of Lyon with all the Church of France living painful hours.”