France’s big­gest church abuse trial starts

Car­di­nal ac­cused of fail­ing to pro­tect chil­dren from al­leged abuse in ’70s, ’80s Seven die in shoot­ing in Mex­ico’s Riviera Maya re­sort city of Playa del Car­men

StarMetro Calgary - - BIG OPINIONS - Ni­co­las Vaux-Mon­tagny Mark Steven­son

LYON, FRANCE—A Catholic car­di­nal and five other peo­ple went on trial Mon­day ac­cused of cov­er­ing up for a pe­dophile priest who abused Boy Scouts — France’s most im­por­tant church sex abuse case to date.

The case poses a new chal­lenge to the Vat­i­can, amid grow­ing de­mands in over­whelm­ingly Catholic France for a reck­on­ing with decades of sex­ual abuse by the clergy.

Car­di­nal Philippe Bar­barin, 68, ap­peared in a Lyon court Mon­day along with other se­nior church of­fi­cials ac­cused of fail­ing to pro­tect chil­dren from al­leged abuse by the Rev. Bernard Prey­nat. The top Vat­i­can of­fi­cial in charge of sex abuse cases, Car­di­nal Luis Ladaria, is among the ac­cused — but won’t ap­pear in court be­cause the Vat­i­can in­voked his diplo­matic im­mu­nity.

Nine peo­ple who said the priest abused them in the 1970s and 1980s brought the case to court, and hope it marks a turn­ing point in ef­forts to hold the French church hi­er­ar­chy ac­count­able for hush­ing up abuse. The vic­tims say top clergy were aware of Prey­nat’s ac­tions for years, but al­lowed him to be in con­tact with chil­dren un­til his 2015 re­tire­ment.

De­spite na­tion­wide at­ten­tion on the case, it may fall Lyon arch­bishop, Car­di­nal Philippe Bar­barin ap­peared in court along with other se­nior church of­fi­cials ac­cused of fail­ing to pro­tect chil­dren from al­leged abuse by the Rev. Bernard Prey­nat.

apart for le­gal rea­sons. Pros­e­cu­tors ini­tially threw out it out for in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence. Bar­barin’s lawyer says his client never ob­structed jus­tice be­cause the statute of lim­i­ta­tions had passed on the acts in ques­tion by the time Bar­barin was in­formed.

“Ac­cus­ing an in­no­cent man

doesn’t ad­vance a cause,” lawyer Jean-Felix Lu­ciani said.

Af­ter the judge had read out the lengthy ac­cu­sa­tions, Bar­barin took the stand to main­tain his in­no­cence. He said he had en­cour­aged one of the al­leged vic­tims to get in con­tact with other vic­tims and “thanks to that” ev­i­dence

against Prey­nat was able to be built.

If found guilty of fail­ing to re­port the priest’s ac­tions, the de­fen­dants could face up to three years in pri­son and a 45,000-euro ($51,300) fine. Bar­barin and some other de­fen­dants are also charged with fail­ing to as­sist a per­son

in peril.

The case is a new test for Pope Fran­cis, whose blind spot on clergy sex abuse has threat­ened his le­gacy and thrown the Catholic hi­er­ar­chy into a cred­i­bil­ity cri­sis. Bar­barin among church’s most pow­er­ful fig­ures. More at thes­tar.com/world MEX­ICO CITY—Seven men have been killed in a shoot­ing at­tack at a bar in Mex­ico’s Caribbean coast re­sort city of Playa del Car­men, author­i­ties said Mon­day.

State and lo­cal po­lice said the at­tack oc­curred late Sun­day at the “Las Vir­ginias” bar in a low-in­come sec­tion rel­a­tively far from the beach­side tourist zone. Six men were found shot to death in the bar, and an­other died at a lo­cal hospi­tal.

One man was wounded but sur­vived the at­tack. He told po­lice he was drink­ing beer with friends when gun­shots broke out.

Playa del Car­men is lo­cated on the coast fac­ing the is­land of Cozumel, Mex­ico’s lead­ing cruise ship des­ti­na­tion.

Once a quiet fish­ing and ferry town, Playa del Car­men has grown ex­po­nen­tially in the last two decades, with lower-in­come neigh­bour­hoods spring­ing up on the in­land side of the coastal high­way.

The re­sort is mid­way be­tween Can­cun, to the north, and Tu­lum, to the south, in the coastal state of Quin­tana Roo, which has seen homi­cides more than dou­ble in the last year, with 688 killings in the first 11 months of 2018, com­pared to 322 in the same pe­riod of 2017.

More at thes­tar.com/world

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