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France

French cardinal Barbarin to face trial for alleged church abuse cover-up

media Cardinal Philippe Barbarin ERIC CABANIS / AFP

French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin will go on trial in April on charges of covering up for a priest accused of abusing children in his Lyon diocese over 25 years ago, a court ruled on Tuesday.

Barbarin, the most senior French Catholic leader to be tried for allegedly failing to report a paedophile priest, will go on trial on 4 April next year along with six co-defendants, the court in Lyon said.

The trial is set to run for three days.

The 66-year-old cardinal is accused of failing to report priest Bernard Preynat to authorities after a former scout in 2014 accused the cleric of abusing him in the 1980s.

Barbarin left the priest in his post, where he had contact with children, until 2015.

The scandal has tarnished the image of one of the French church's most media-friendly figures.

The cardinal has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he did not know how to go about dealing with allegations dating back over two decades.

An archbishop of a southwestern diocese and a bishop from the central city of Nevers are also accused in the case.

The scandal is the worst to hit the church in France since 2001, when a bishop was given a three-month suspended jail sentence for failing to inform authorities about another paedophile priest.

with AFP

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