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French cardinal convicted of failing to act on sex abuse allegations

Convicted Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot/File Photo

A French court convicted the Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon on Thursday of failing to act on historic allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts in his diocese, handing Cardinal Philippe Barbarin a six-month suspended jail sentence.

Barbarin is the highest-profile cleric to be caught up in the child sex abuse scandal inside the Catholic Church in France. He was found guilty of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse in the 1980s and early 1990s by a priest who is due to go on trial later this year.

Barbarin has 10 days to appeal.

Barbarin’s trial put Europe’s senior clergy in the spotlight at a time when Pope Francis is under fire for the church’s response a sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed the church, deeply damaging its standing around the globe.

The pontiff last month ended a conference on the sexual abuse of children by clergy by calling for an “all-out battle” against a crime that should be “erased from the face of the earth”.

Victims and their advocates expressed deep disappointment, saying Francis had merely repeated old promises and offered few new concrete proposals.

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