It should’ve been easy for the Catholic Church to rid itself of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. Earlier this month, he announced he would resign from the Church after a secular court found him guilty of not reporting a pedophile priest who had sexually abused minors.
But Pope Francis said yesterday that he would not accept the resignation.
Cardinal Barbarin, 68, promptly offered to resign, though he is appealing the verdict. He met with Pope Francis on Monday to personally hand in his resignation, but both the cardinal and a Vatican spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said on Tuesday that the pope had not accepted it.
Instead, they said, the cardinal, one of the highest-ranking and best-known Roman Catholic officials in France, will step aside for an unspecified length of time.
Cardinal Barbarin said in a statement that the pope had acted “invoking the presumption of innocence.”
It’s hard to act on a presumption of innocence when a secular court has declared you guilty of shielding a predator priest. What the pope is saying is that the courts don’t matter, and the evidence is secondary to forgiveness… which might be inspirational if we weren’t talking about the Catholic Church’s most infamous crime.
The pope just doesn’t think covering up for a molesting priest is that big of a deal. This is his reward for protecting the Church.
While we don’t know how long Barbarin will step aside, what’s more troubling is what he thinks might happen when he returns. Does he think he’ll be greeted with open arms? Because there’s no way that’s going to happen.
During the years in which Barbarin knew about the abuse by Rev. Bernard Preynat, in 2014 and 2015, he could have collected information and worked with law enforcement officials to investigate the culprits. Instead, like so many Catholic leaders, he looked the other way even as people confessed what had been done to them decades earlier. Even worse, he let Preynat have contact with kids even after knowing of the allegations.
And now the pope is forgiving him by letting him remain in the Church’s good graces.
If Barbarin had any sense of decency, he would quit instead of accepting the pope’s temporary reprieve.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Portions of this article were published earlier)