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France

Pope's paedophilia letter prompts call for French archbishop's resignation

media Cardinal Philippe Barbarin SAFIN HAMED / AFP

As Pope Francis heads for Ireland, where will meet victims of clerical sexual abuse, a French priest is calling for the resignation of the archbishop of Lyon, suspected of covering up paedophile crimes in the 1980s and 90s.

On Tuesday the Pope issued a letter to 1.4 billion Catholics around the world calling for the whole church to mobilise against paedophilia following recent scandals in the US and Chile.

Father Pierre Vignon,64, is a canon law judge based in Valence, an expert on clerical sex abuse and known for speaking his mind.

Shortly after Pope Francis published his Letter to the People of God he published another letter online - addressed to the archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.

Alleged cover-up

He called on him to resign over his handling of the case of Father Bernard Preynat, who was suspended in 2016 over allegations of sexual abuse on boy scouts in the 1990s.

Barbarin has been accused of covering up the affair.

Barbarin holds one of the highest offices in the Catholic church in France and it is the first time someone from the Church has called for his resignation.

Ongoing legal case

But the confederation of archbishops of France are not of the same opinion and deny there is a wall of silence on the question.

Archbishop Ribadeau Dumas told French public radio the case must be left up to the courts.

"Should France dismiss archbishops? The question is out there," he declared on Wednesday. "Up until now I understand there are anger and questions but there's a court case going on and what I also understand is that the case has to be heard before a decision is made."

Cardinal Barbarin is shortly to stand trial but the hearing, which has already been postponed once, could well be further delayed due to procedural questions.

A new date is to be announced on 3 September.

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