Misogynistic Chilean bishop resigns


This 14 June 2019 video says about itself:

Chile bishop resigns after suggesting there is a reason the Last Supper had no women

A Chilean auxiliary bishop appointed by Pope Francis less than a month ago has resigned, just weeks after he made controversial comments about the lack of women in attendance at the Last Supper.

Carlos Eugenio Irarrazaval was appointed by the pope in an effort to rebuild the church’s credibility following a pervasive sex abuse scandal that exposed hundreds of allegations now being investigated by Chilean criminal prosecutors.

The archdiocese of Santiago did not specify the reasons for Irarrazaval’s departure in its statement, but said the pope had accepted the bishop’s resignation “in favour of unity and for the good of the church”.

The bishop’s short tenure began with a television interview in May, in which he said there were no women seated at the table at the Last Supper and that “we have to respect that”.

“Jesus Christ made decisions and they were not ideological … and we want to be faithful to Jesus Christ”, he said in reference to the lack of women in attendance. He also said that perhaps women “like to be in the back room”.

According to the Bible, the Last Supper was Jesus’ last meal with his disciples before his crucifixion, depicted in many famous works of art.

The comments sparked a backlash among women’s groups and critics of the church in Chile at a time when confidence in church leadership in the once staunchly Catholic nation has plummeted. Pope Francis earlier this year accepted the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati as archbishop of Santiago, the highest-ranking member of the Catholic church in Chile, after he was caught up in the country’s sex abuse scandal.

The church’s credibility has been harmed in much of the world by abuse scandals in countries including Ireland, Chile, Australia, France, the United States and Poland.

In Chile, prosecutors say they are investigating more than 150 cases of sexual abuse or cover-up involving more than 200 victims.

Irarrazaval will continue to serve the church as a pastor in Santiago, according to the Archdiocese of Santiago. Irarrazaval could not be immediately reached for comment.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Chilean auxiliary bishop quickly gone after insulting women

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the auxiliary bishop of the Chilean capital Santiago. Carlos Irarrázaval had only been in his job for 24 days, but soon got into trouble.

In a TV interview, the auxiliary bishop had said that there were no women at the Last Supper of Jesus and his apostles, and therefore there was no role for them in the church. It was supposedly a “non-ideological” choice by Jesus. The auxiliary bishop also said that women may “like to stay in the back room”. He had previously caused controversy by his remark that people should let bygones be bygones with regard to a major abuse scandal in the Chilean church.

Women’s organizations and critics of the Catholic Church responded indignantly to the comments by Irarrázaval. He now says he will leave to preserve the peace and unity of the Archdiocese of Santiago.

Irarrázaval had especially been appointed by the pope in an attempt to restore peace to the Chilean Catholic community, which was shocked last year by the news of large-scale abuse by priests. The Chilean Public Prosecution Service is conducting criminal investigations into more than 150 clerics who allegedly abused children or concealed such crimes.

Advertisements

Clerical child abuse and candidate Kamala Harris


This 9 June 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

As San Francisco DA, Kamala Harris’s Office Stopped Cooperating With Victims of Clergy Abuse

Kamala Harris, surrounded by thousands of cheering supporters, kicked off her [Democratic party] presidential campaign in Oakland earlier this year, declaring that she has always fought “on behalf of survivors of sexual assault, a fight not just against predators but a fight against silence and stigma.”

Harris specialized in prosecuting sex crimes and child exploitation as a young prosecutor just out of law school. But when it came to taking on the Catholic Church, survivors of clergy sexual abuse say that Harris turned a blind eye, refusing to take action against clergy members accused of sexually abusing children when it meant confronting one of the city’s most powerful political institutions.

Hear one survivor’s story here, or visit our website to read the full story.

Belgian Jehovah’s Witnesses sexual abuse scandal


This 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

Candace Conti: Former Jehovah’s Witness Takes on Church over Sex Abuse Allegations

Candace Conti says the church failed to protect her from a predatory pedophile, which Jehovah’s Witnesses has denied.

Translated from Belgian daily De Standaard, 3 April 2019:

Already seventy possible victims of abuse report to the Jehovah’s Witnesses hotline

The scandal of abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses first erupted abroad, but has also received attention in Belgium since last week’s Pano [TV show] report. There are seventy possible victims reporting to the “Reclaimed Voices Belgium” hotline.

Since two weeks, “Reclaimed Voices” has also a hotline in our country, and in the aftermath of the Pano broadcast it is receiving “disturbing messages”. “Almost a week after the broadcast, there are more than seventy people involved in sexual abuse or domestic and psychological violence”, according to a press release from Reclaimed Voices Belgium. All reports have so far come from Flanders.

According to the hotline, the victims also talk about the serious psychological damage that the exclusion by Jehovah’s Witnesses from the community entails. “In the conversations we have had so far with victims, the exclusion trauma appears to have a greater impact in certain cases than the abuse itself”, writes Reclaimed Voices Belgium.

Abroad, the scandal started earlier. In the Netherlands, the theme gained momentum in early 2018 after the establishment of the non-profit association “Reclaimed Voices”, which collects testimonies about sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The hotline can always be reached via its website.

This 28 March 2019 video says about itself:

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ child sexual abuse scandal: state intelligence to home in on sects

Belgian justice minister Koen Geens … wants Jehovah’s Witnesses wishing to leave the organisation to receive help from the sects’ watchdog. The minister was speaking after VRT’s Pano programme revealed widespread sexual abuse of children among the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation.

Also from De Standaard, 29 March 2019 (translated):

‘Jehovah’s Witnesses protect criminals

As a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ elder, Kurt De Kerf from Sint-Niklaas town had to support a probable pedophile

“My dedication to Jehovah went very far”, says Kurt De Kerf (55) from Sint-Niklaas. “If my children needed shoes, then I usually didn’t buy them. I gave the money to the organization and believed that Jehovah would take care of the children’s shoes.”

On Wednesday evening, De Kerf testified anonymously in the Pano report on sexual abuse that is said to be covered up by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Today the father of two sons and installer of fire extinguishers choose to leave the anonymity. “Because I have nothing to hide, and because it is important that this finally comes into the open.” …

“Jehovah’s Witnesses have been protecting criminals for years. I know, because I have worked on it myself as an elder.”

No worse than drunkenness

Elders are male Witnesses who lead their congregational pastoral ministry. Kurt De Kerf, whose father and mother are also Jehovah’s Witnesses, took office in the 1980s when he was barely 25 years old. He also became a member of the internal legal committee. “Crimes are rarely reported to secular justice”, says De Kerf. “In the Legal Committee, elders themselves investigate and punish crimes, ranging from intoxication, corruption to adultery.”

In the mid-1990s, Kurt De Kerf, along with other elders, had to consider a case of child abuse. A teenage girl from the community said she was being harassed by her father. “I was very impressed”, says De Kerf. “I knew for myself that I had absolutely no ability to deal with such allegations. I worked professionally as a house painter, so I was not trained at all for situations like that. Just like the other elders aren’t. ”

According to De Kerf, elders have a kind of scenario with procedures to follow in such situations. “The first step was to contact the head office in Kraainem. There they asked me if I had informed the police. I hadn’t done that yet. “Keep it like that. We will discuss internally what the further steps will be”, they said.”

A few days later he was told that he should handle the case in the same way as any other, and not unlike, eg, a case of drunkenness. The father denied that he had abused his daughter. Because there were no other witnesses, we had to leave the matter to Jehovah. Although I was almost certain that the man was guilty, I followed that order.”

According to De Kerf, the man was later excluded, because he was said to also have been guilty of other facts. “Then, against the will of my organization, I advised that girl to go to the police. She did that, but two weeks later she withdrew her statement under pressure by her father.”

Kurt De Kerf then continued to chair other lawsuits. “One day I had to decide to exclude the girl from the community. To escape her father, she had started living together with her boyfriend and that was forbidden.”

He got remorse. Yet it took years before De Kerf decided to turn his back on the Witnesses. “I went through a very tough period. My oldest son went to live alone, because he felt being curtailed by Jehovah. My wife had a hard time with that and undertook a suicide attempt. I was able to save her in the nick of time. But because of our family problems, I had to resign as an elder. My wife was also not allowed to consult a psychologist who was not a Witness. Then I realized that I no longer wanted to be part of this type of organization.”

It was a very tough decision. “We literally ended up in a black hole. I remember how I went to the fair with my youngest son for the very first time. I felt guilty for days. It took me years to build a life without Jehovah.”

This 28 March 2019 Dutch language Belgian Pano TV video shows Mr De Kerf speaking on Belgian Jehovah’s Witnesses sexual abuse.

Sexually abusive priest still working in monastery


This 21 February 2019 video by CBS TV from the USA says about itself:

Catholic bishops in the Netherlands have reportedly been covering up church sex abuse for decades. The country had been known for recognizing and compensating victims. Charlie D’Agata reports.

Translated from Dutch daily Trouw today:

Saskia was abused by a priest, and he still works in the monastery

By Marije van Beek

Saskia was abused by a priest in a monastery. That case has been settled with compensation and apologies. But she is worried: the perpetrator is still working in the monastery, and the monastery leadership does not understand her.

She came to rest in the monastery. At that time, Saskia was 21 years old, and had just moved to rooms in Rotterdam. She wasn’t doing well. “I got stuck in my education and I found living alone very difficult. In addition, I already had not really wonderful and romantic sexual experiences. Someone advised me to go to the monastery for a while, that seemed like a good idea.”

Upon arrival in Heeswijk-Dinther in Brabant province, at the Abbey of Berne, the quiet corridors immediately calmed her and she met a “very nice” priest. “I came there with my grief, and he led me to my room. The only thing I remember is that I woke up and he sat on the edge of the bed. He had put a soporific in my tea, he said.”

Alarm bells

With a look of incomprehension, Saskia, now 56 years old, wonders why alarm bells did not immediately go off after that cup of tea. “I was brought up protectedly, and: wasn’t it a priest? So it would be fine, I thought. I kept coming to the monastery again and again, when things had become too much for me.”

Until then she tells her story in a controlled and fluent way, in a meeting location somewhere in Groningen. The sequel is more difficult. “That year he started crossing red lines”, says Saskia. “I choose that word because I can’t talk about exactly what happened. I thought it was very dirty, I can tell you.”

The 2013 ruling made by the Complaints Committee for Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church describes precisely what the sexual abuse was. It lasted for a few years. “I didn’t have the impression that I could refuse. This is difficult to explain, I know, because people sometimes don’t believe it. But I was so stuck in the situation. He let me do it, something I didn’t want at all. It is comparable to peer pressure, which means that you do something against your will, because you need something from the group. I really needed the peace that I found in the monastery. And I initially got it there too. But it turned out that there was an extremely expensive price tag.”

Only when Saskia was a little older, got into a relationship and found a new, fine house, did she manage to keep the priest away. Her life went on. She got married, went to work, had children. But it didn’t go well yet, she says. “I have felt guilty for what I did for twenty years. I could not be the mother and the wife I wanted to be. My husband had bought a pig in a poke, I thought, with someone who carries such a past with her.”

“Everything that went wrong in my life – and that was quite a lot – I saw as punishment by God for what I had done. Relationships that broke down, for example. At the end of the nineteen eighties, I started a theology course, where sexual abuse was discussed, and I learned that he should never have done this as a clergyman, as an authority. Then I suddenly thought: damn it, he‘s the culprit.”

Ten years ago, Saskia experienced major depression and suicidal tendencies and went into therapy. “It was there that I first started to talk about what I experienced. I found out that the idea that I was to blame had long isolated me. That is also what happens when people play it down. That really made me stand alone.”

Two thousand euros

A complaint by a man about sexual abuse – which took place between the late 1980s and late 1990s – had already been declared valid against the same clergyman, it turned out. “The similarities of that case with mine are shocking”, says Saskia. “Just like with me, it started with grooming. He told everything about himself and asked you to keep it a secret. That started with very small things. For example his taste in music. “The elderly people here don’t understand that”, he said. He created a confidential atmosphere, and he also worked on your guilt: after all, you are always allowed to come here?”

With the decision of the committee about her complaint, which was also upheld, a burden fell off her shoulders. She hits the table with her open hand. “My guilt is gone. Very really. The clergyman just said it to the committee: “I did that.”

The priest apologized at the session. From a business point of view, the issue was settled with the compensation that Saskia received, two thousand euros. But her worries are not over yet. The priest is still active in the Abbey of Berne, deals with guests in the monastery, including young people. “That bothers me,” says Saskia. “I think that he should no longer come into contact with people. He is dangerous in the one-to-one contact. Otherwise he would not have done this to me? Who says the leadership is not being lied to again? He has done everything right under their noses?”

The priest himself cannot respond because of personal circumstances, says the abbot of the Abbey of Berne, Denis Hendrickx. The abbot does not share the concerns of Saskia. Measures have been taken, he says: the priest has been suspended for a while, church members have been informed of the abuse. Whether it is wise to bring the clergyman into contact with people? “He has had his punishment”, says Hendrickx. “This does not mean that we are no longer aware of the past. We remain alert.”

‘Unsuitable’

In a mail exchange about this issue between her and the abbot something “very strange” happened, Saskia says. “He spoke of the abuse and said the committee had determined that it was a “friendship” between the priest and me in which “unsuitable” things had happened. But that was not what the committee determined, those were the words of the clergyman, which he used in his defense.”

“That sentence is incredibly poignant”, says Saskia. “Because by pretending that there was a friendship, the blame comes back to me again. And it minimizes the abuse. The words “not suitable” – that is as if this priest once committed a minor infraction. No, he has repeatedly abused me. And not just me, but another person too.”

Eg, there were more things that gave Saskia the feeling that the monastery had little awareness of what the priest had caused. “They celebrated his priestly ordination anniversary, had him do interviews and do public appearances. Apparently they don’t have the feeling that the abuse could affect his status as a clergyman.”

At Saskia’s request, the monastery is now trying to keep the priest out of the media. Abbot Hendrickx says that he did not mean to condone the abuse with the aforementioned sentence about the “relationship”. “In the meantime,” Saskia sighs, “the person who abused me can still work with young people.”

To forgive

The priest who abused Saskia has not been convicted in the regular legal system: the case there would have been time barred. When the extent of the abuse scandals in the church came to light, the church decided to set up a committee, with no limitation period. That way Saskia was able to go somewhere and she received compensation and apologies. But this system also has its disadvantages, she thinks. “The church is actually conducting its own legal system about crime. But you cannot solve sexual abuse internally. They consider themselves experts in this area, but they are not at all. Nevertheless, they believe they can impose sanctions and assess whether someone will do a repeat offense.”

Eventually the abbot came to Groningen for an interview with Saskia. “I thought: “Fine, then I can finally explain my concerns to him”. But in that conversation he said: “It must be possible to forgive at some point in time.” …

Saskia … took that as follows: “I was wondering: how can I forgive someone who can continue as usual in the monastery? No, I’m worried terribly. After all, there is a secondary school opposite that monastery. In my eyes, these are all potential victims. I would very much like to have lost that worry.”

In the meantime, Saskia has sought help from fellow survivors’ organizations and abuse experts. A world of difference with how the church approached her, she says. “Some education or professionalism in dealing with victims is missing in the church. I have thought long and hard about why people treated me so carelessly. I think the church is used to focusing on sinners rather than victims. Their core business is “sin” and “forgiveness”, and we are just a kind of by-product of sin that they can’t do much with.”

“I think the abbot thinks the period of abuse is behind them and that he has adhered to all the conditions and rules of the church. And that it should by now be over. But they completely ignore the fact that as a victim you have been damaged for your life.”

Then she tells me that her faith, which she enjoyed a great deal of in her youth, has not been what it was since. “I never again think you can dream pleasantly during a mass. Eg, participating in sharing bread and wine in the church is very difficult for me. Because I know that on the other side of the country someone is handing out the same thing, the one who did that to me.”

The full name of Saskia and the name of the priest are known to the editors.

“Better aftercare needed for victims of clerical abuse”

Better aftercare is needed for victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy. According to the alliance organization Women’s Platform on Church Child Abuse (VPKK), the victims often encounter incomprehension and insensitivity. These are people for whom the church itself has established that the abuse has indeed taken place and who have already gone through a complaints procedure. The interest group is calling for a guideline for dealing with or aftercare for this group.

Of the more than a thousand Catholic clerics who have been guilty of abuse in the Netherlands [in the twentieth century], a small minority is still alive. At least “ten to twenty” of these clergymen are still active in monasteries and parishes, says the Dutch Religious Conference (KNR), the umbrella organization of orders and congregations in the Netherlands.

According to the VPKK, the measures taken against clergy who committed abuse are not always clear. They notice major differences per order and diocese. …

One of the measures is that perpetrators are no longer allowed to do the work that caused them to commit the abuse. But the case of Saskia, where the priest still works with young people, shows, according to abuse expert Maud Kips of the VPKK, that this is not true everywhere.

The KNR mentions the contact group for victims under the leadership of Bishop Hans van den Hende as an example of an aftercare tool. But according to abuse expert Maud Kips of the VPKK that is an “empty shell”. She has no good experiences with that contact group. “So we no longer cooperate with that.” …

Also:

It was called a bit of fidgeting in the nineteen seventies. Alarm bells did not ring in the event of abuse. France’s most prominent Catholic clergyman, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, has been sentenced for not stopping abuse by priest Bernard Preynat. The victim of abuse François Devaux played a major role in uncovering the affair.

Pope Francis does not live up to the expectations of victims at the [Vatican] summit about abuse. Just like at the start of the four-day abuse summit in the Vatican that took place last month, Pope Francis also spoke firmly at the conclusion. Child abuse may no longer occur in the Roman Catholic Church and it may no longer be covered up. But how?

Belgian cardinal Godfried Danneels dies


This 11 September 2010 video by Australian broadcasting organisation ABC says about itself:

Pedophile Horrors in Belgium In Church, Politics, Social Services

No congregation escaped Belgian sex abuse. “It’s the Church’s Dutroux”, referring to mid-1990s trauma in Belgium + arrest of serial rapist / child killer Marc Dutroux, serving life for six rapes and four murders.

Read more here.

The video is also about the ‘Legionaries of Christ‘, an international Roman Catholic order, founded by a pedophile priest with close connections to Pope John Paul II.

Translated from Belgian (Roman Catholic) daily De Standaard today:

Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop Emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, died Thursday morning in Mechelen. Cardinal Jozef De Kesel reports this. Danneels was 85 years old. …

The role that Danneels played in the abuse case of Bruges bishop Roger Vangheluwe in 2010 is a blot on his career. Recorded conversations that Danneels had with Vangheluwe and a victim showed that Danneels had tried to cover up the affair.

The Standaard might have added the discovery during a police raid in Danneels’ archiepiscopal palace of secret photos about the scandal of Belgian child rapist and murderer Marc Dutroux.

Child-abusing Cardinal Pell’s six years prison sentence


This 12 March 2019 video says about itself:

Chief judge Peter Kidd sentences Cardinal George Pell to six years in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months, for the sexual abuse of two boys at St Patrick’s cathedral in the 1990s. Pell was convicted last month on five charges of child sexual assault, following a committal hearing, a mistrial and a trial. He has lodged an appeal, which will be heard in June.

George Pell‘s lawyer has described his crimes as “no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case“, but a prosecutor says they were brazen, forceful and humiliating acts, at a court hearing to consider the cardinal‘s sentence: here.

George Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter QC, has apologised for describing Pell’s crimes as “no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case”, after the words sparked a widespread backlash from abuse survivors: here.

George Pell sentenced to six years’ jail for sexually abusing two choirboys: here.

George Pell’s full sentencing, as issued by Chief Judge Peter Kidd: here.

How a devastated family watched their son’s life spiral after George Pell abuse: here.

Another Catholic man [in Australia], Andrew, said he hoped Pell would never leave prison. “I’ve got three boys in Catholic schools, it makes me sick”, he said. “I think the Catholic Church is shuffling it under the carpet and it makes me sick that I pay school fees to a Catholic system and then some of that money goes to the Catholic Church”: here.

‘The toughest story I’ve ever done’: Inside Louise Milligan’s investigation of George Pell: here.

By Elizabeth Li in Australia, 13 March 2019:

Cardinal George Pell Receives 6 Year Prison Sentence for Historical Sexual Abuse Charges

A worldwide audience has witnessed Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic … being sentenced to six years in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months, for committing five child sex offences back in the 1990s.

County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd’s sentencing of Cardinal George Pell was broadcast live on March 13 from Victoria’s County Court.

Kidd is aware he sentenced at “a time where in recent years there has been the exposure of child sexual abuse within institutional settings, including within the Catholic Church.”

“I am required to sentence you today in accordance with the rule of law … independent of any outside influences”, Kidd said.

The County Court’s largest courtroom was filled with abuse survivors, advocates and a global television audience.

In sentencing Pell, Kidd dismissed mental impairment as a factor in Pell’s decision to offend.

A mentally impaired person would probably not rise to the #3 spot in the Vatican hierarchy and boss of the Vatican’s finances.

“What you did was so egregious that it is fanciful to suggest you may not have fully appreciated it”, Kidd said.

The judge took into account the victims’ emotional wellbeing and impact on their relationships, culminating in an “immediate” and “profound impact” on their lives.

Kidd also addressed the relationship of trust between Pell and the victims, and the context of power imbalance.

“I think you did give thought or reflection to this offending and the only reasonable inference from the brazenness of your re-offending is that you had a degree of confidence that the victims would not complain either immediately, or by running at some later stage,” he said.

“You were a pillar of St Patrick by virtue of your position.”

Kidd said because Pell maintains his innocence, which is his right, there is “no evidence of your remorse or contrition” to “reduce your sentence.”

Kidd said the court must demonstrate the “grave consequences” of violating the law and deter would-be offenders.

“The offences you, Cardinal Pell, have committed, were each intentional offences,” he said.

Pell is considered to be a “serious sexual offender” in relation to three of the charges. The prosecution did not seek a “disproportionate sentence”.

“I think the church has felt that their laws—their canon laws—override our laws of the country. And I think that today probably shows that that is just not the case,” Fiona Patten, who leads the Reason Party, told The Epoch Times. …

Guilty Finding

A Melbourne jury found Pell, 77, guilty of five charges on Dec. 11, 2018—one of orally raping a child and four of committing indecent acts with children.

The cardinal was charged with the 1996 raping of a choirboy and molesting another in the priests’ sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne, where Pell was archbishop at the time. His victims were two 13-year-old boys on scholarship to the prestigious St. Kevin’s College.

The jury also found Pell guilty of assaulting one of the boys a second time in early 1997 when the archbishop pushed the boy against a corridor wall after Sunday mass and groped him briefly.

One of the two victims died in an accident in 2014, while the other, now in his 30s, brought the allegations to police after years of struggling to understand what he had experienced as a child. …

The hearings in the Court of Appeal are scheduled to be heard on June 5 and 6.

If the sentence stands, Pell will be a registered sex offender for life.

By Louise Milligan today:

In the end, he was just an elderly, grey-faced man in the dock.

Not a prince of the church, not a cardinal, but a man convicted of and sentenced for terrible crimes against children.

A man who once flew first class will celebrate his 78th birthday in prison, and at the very least, his 79th, 80th and 81st.

A large part of it will be in protective custody because this man is and remains a lightning rod for discontent in the Australian community and, as a psychiatrist who specialises in child sexual abuse once told me, prisons are full of victims of these crimes.

George Pell’s reaction to receiving his sentence was only seen by those in the courtroom — the world was watching but the broadcast stayed steadily on County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd.

We saw a man in a beige jacket and black shirt who seemed to have aged years in a matter of weeks.

His clerical collar and his Order of Australia pin were conspicuously absent.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL SENTENCED The Australian cardinal, the highest-ranking member of the Roman Catholic Church to be convicted of child sexual assault, was sentenced to six years in prison for molesting two choir boys in Melbourne in 1996. He will be eligible for parole in three years and six months. [HuffPost]

French cardinal sentenced for child abuse cover-up


This 7 January 2019 video says about itself:

🇫🇷 France: cardinal on trial over child sex abuse coverup.

One of the most senior figures of the French Catholic Church involved in a sexual abuse scandal has gone on trial. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon is accused of helping to cover up abuse against children.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari has more.

From the BBC today:

Phillipe Barbarin: French cardinal guilty of abuse cover-up

France’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, has been handed a six-month suspended sentence for his role in covering up the sexual abuse of minors.

Cardinal Barbarin was found guilty of not reporting allegations of assaults by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s.

He denied the charges and his lawyers say he will appeal against the verdict.

Cardinal Barbarin’s sentencing comes as the Catholic Church battles a fresh wave of abuse scandals.

During the trial, he told the court: “I cannot see what I am guilty of. I never tried to hide, let alone cover up these horrible facts.”

Cardinal Barbarin, who hold the position of Archbishop of Lyon, was not in court for the verdict.

The allegations relate to alleged abuse by priest Bernard Preynat, who is now 73. Dozens of men say he abused them as children.

Father Preynat ran a boy scouts group for many years, during which some of the abuse allegedly took place.

Cardinal Barbarin told the trial he had known of “rumours” as far back as 2010.

But he became aware of the abuse after a conversation with one of the victims in 2014. He informed the Vatican about the allegations, and removed Father Preynat from his position a year later – but never informed police.

The allegations became public in 2015 – and are now the subject of a film titled Grace of God, which was cleared for release last month after a legal battle.

Several of Father Preynat’s victims took action against Cardinal Barbarin and five others over their inaction.

They used provisions in French law to bring a private prosecution – circumventing the prosecutor’s office, which had not pursued action because the allegations happened too long ago.

French broadcaster BFMTV described the case as “the first major trial of paedophilia in the French Catholic Church”.

It comes amid a series of other Catholic scandals around the world.

Two weeks ago, Australia’s most senior cleric Cardinal George Pell – someone once widely seen as the Church’s third-most powerful official – was found guilty of abusing children.

An Australian jury found Pell had abused two choir boys in Melbourne’s cathedral in 1996. He is appealing that verdict.

Pope Francis, meanwhile, convened a conference on the sexual abuse of children in the church last month. He called for “concrete measures” to tackle the problem rather than “simple and obvious condemnations”, and labelled abusers “tools of Satan”.

Critics, however, say that little concrete action has been taken by the Church.