Over the last two decades or so, Catholic priests have been accused of child sexual assault so much that it’s become low hanging fruit for comedians around the world. The outrage is real enough, though, especially because the Church has a tendency to try and cover up the scandals, and generally seeks to protect the priests instead of the children they abuse. Stories of serial abusers being moved from parish to parish abound.
Recently, Cardinal Philippe Barbain, cardinal-archbishop of Lyon, France, suspended four priests accused of sexual assault. He said in a statement that the cases were already known to local authorities in the Lyon region, and that other priests were the “object of special measures,” though he did not clarify what that means.
With a significant Catholic population, France has seen a number of such allegations surface, and the authorities are starting to take things more seriously. Cardinal Barbain was questioned for 10 hours in June of 2016 about the activities of Father Bernard Preynat, who allegedly abused a number of boys in 1991. He has been released under bail, but is still being investigated for his actions.
Cardinal Barbain has denied that he has done anything wrong, and blamed errors of management and appointment for the lack of action taken against abusive priests. That response isn’t likely to sit well with the people who have filed complaints against him after he has failed to report priests to the authorities, or remove them. It is after all a cop-out, and while his most recent actions are a step in the right direction, it simply reinforces the view of the Church as an organization that is far more concerned with preserving its brand than with facing the consequences of it’s actions, or putting the need of it’s faithful first.