Philippe Barbarin

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His Eminence

Philippe Barbarin
Philippe Barbarin.jpg
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed16 July 2002
Installed14 September 2002
PredecessorLouis-Marie Billé
Other postsCardinal-Priest of SS. Trinità al Monte Pincio
Ordination17 December 1977
by Robert Marie-Joseph François de Provenchères
Consecration22 November 1998
by Philibert Randriambololona
Created cardinal21 October 2003
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Birth namePhilippe Xavier Ignace Barbarin
Born (1950-10-17) 17 October 1950 (age 68)
Rabat, Morocco
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post
MottoQu'ils soient un
Coat of armsPhilippe Barbarin's coat of arms
Styles of
Philippe Barbarin
Coat of arms of Philippe Barbarin.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Philippe Xavier Christian Ignace Marie Barbarin (born 17 October 1950) is a French Roman Catholic prelate who has been serving as the Archbishop of Lyon since his appointment in 2002. He was made a cardinal in 2003. He was later charged in 2017 with covering up sex abuse committed by a pedophile priest in his Archdiocese and began a criminal trial in 2019[1][2]


Early life and ordination[edit]

Philippe Barbarin was born in 1950 in Rabat, Morocco, then a French protectorate, into a large family (six sisters, two of whom are nuns, and four brothers).[3] Barbarin studied for the priesthood in Paris. He was ordained on 17 December 1977 by Bishop Robert de Provenchères of Créteil.

Pastoral work[edit]

Barbarin was involved in pastoral work until 1994, when he taught theology in the Archdiocese of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar.

Bishop and Archbishop[edit]

On 1 October 1998, he was appointed Bishop of Moulins. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 22 November from the Jesuit Archbishop Philibert Randriambololona of Fianarantsoa (with Bishops André Quélen and Daniel Labille serving as co-consecrators). Barbarin was named Archbishop of Lyon on 16 July 2002.


As is customary for archbishops of Lyon, Monsignor Barbarin was promptly elevated to the Cardinalate. He was created Cardinal-Priest of SS. Trinità al Monte Pincio by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI and the 2013 conclave which elected Pope Francis. He is eligible to participate in any conclave to choose a successor to a pope who dies or abdicates on or before Barbarin's 80th birthday on 17 October 2030.

In addition to his native French, Barbarin speaks Italian, English, Spanish, German, and Malagasy.


In 2010, Barbarin created a program at the diocesan seminary to prepare for the priesthood any Francophone candidate who wished, in accordance with the tradition in which he was raised, to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.[4]

In November 2012, as France prepared to legalize same-sex marriage, he told Osservatore Romano: "Everyone knows marriage is the union between a man and a woman. The parliaments of the 21st century cannot change that.... I and many other priests are engaged in dialogue with a number of homosexual people. They know they are loved and that they will always be welcome. I would remind them however that God watches over and says to everyone: 'You are precious in my eyes.' I hope that everyone listens to Christ's call and are helped to reciprocate."[5]

In July 2015, he led the bishops of the Rhône-Alpes region in calling for a Reims hospital to maintain the life support systems of Vincent Lambert, a man who had been in a coma for seven years.[6]

He has been "at the forefront of Islamic-Christian dialogue". In 2013, accompanied by the Imam of Lyon, he visited the village of Tibhirine, Algeria, where some Trappist monks were assassinated in 1996. In July 2014, he visited Mosul and Erbil and other villages in Iraq as well as refugee camps for displaced Christians.[7]


Cardinal Barbarin suffered a double heart infarction in the plane from Lyon to 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. He was taken to a hospital in Cayenne, French Guiana, where he received a coronary angiography. He was transferred to Fort de France, Martinique, where he underwent a triple bypass operation on 23 July 2013.[8]

Sexual abuses under his watch[edit]

Barbarin has been criticized for allegedly covering up sexual abuses committed by one of his priests, which is a crime under French law.[9] As of February 2016 Barbarin, four of his subordinates and Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican, are the defendants in a lawsuit by the abuse victims.[10] A judge is conducting a preliminary inquiry.[11] On 1 August 2016, the faillure to report whose the Cardinal Barbarin was accused was closed without follow-up by the Attorney of Lyon, due largely to statute of limitations considerations.[12] However, Barbarin and six other priests were later charged in 2017 for covering up alleged abuse committed by local priest Bernard Preynat in the 1980s.[1] This trial was scheduled to begin on April 4, 2018,[13] but was eventually postponed to a later date.[14]


On January 7, 2019, Barbarin's trial for covering up sex abuse officially began.[15][16] Five of the priests who were accused of assisting Barbarin in covering up the sex abuse joined the Archbishop as co-defendants as well.[2] On January 9, 2019, prosecutor Charlotte Trabut charges would not be filed against the defendants, due to lack of evidence and the expiration of statute of limitations for some of the charges.[17][18] However, the reported victims were able to bypass the prosecutors office after invoking their right to press charges.[17] On January 10, 2019, the four-day trial concluded and it was announced that the presiding judge will decide Barbarin's fate on March 7, 2019.[19][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ 30 Days in the Church and the World magazine: "Interview with Cardinal Philippe Barbarin: The lights of Lyon" January – February 2009
  4. ^ "La Maison Sainte-Blandine, un an après" (in French). Archdiocese of Lyon. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Card. Barbarin: 'Parliaments cannot change the essence of marriage'". Vatican Insider. La Stampa. 29 November 2012. Archived from the original on 1 April 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  6. ^ Bernadelli, Geiorgio (21 July 2015). "Bishops of Rhône-Alpes call for tetraplegic man not to be taken off life support". Vatican Insider. La Stampa. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  7. ^ Bernadelli, Giorgio (31 July 2014). "Iraq: Cardinal Barbarin stands by Mosul's refugees". Vatican Insider. La Stampa. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Cardinal Philippe Barbarin Suffers Heart Attack – ZENIT – English".
  9. ^ "Le cardinal Barbarin rattrapé par une affaire de pédophilie qu'il n'a pas dénoncée".
  10. ^ "French cardinal criticised over handling of abuse allegations -". 23 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Une plainte contre le cardinal Barbarin et le Vatican".
  12. ^ Cazi, Emeline (1 August 2016). "Pédophilie : pourquoi le parquet a classé l'affaire Barbarin sans suite" – via Le Monde.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
André Bernard Michel Quélen
Bishop of Moulins
1 October 1998-16 July 2002
Succeeded by
Pascal Roland
Preceded by
Louis-Marie Billé
Archbishop of Lyon
16 July 2002–present
Cardinal-Priest of SS. Trinità al Monte Pincio
21 October 2003-present