Philippe Barbarin

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Philippe Barbarin
Cardinal-Priest of SS. Trinità al Monte Pincio
Barbarin in 2008
ChurchCatholic Church
SeeLyon (emeritus)
Appointed16 July 2002
Installed14 September 2002
Term ended6 March 2020
PredecessorLouis-Marie Billé
SuccessorOlivier de Germay
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
Philippe Xavier Ignace Barbarin

(1950-10-17) 17 October 1950 (age 73)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post(s)
MottoQu'ils soient un
Coat of armsPhilippe Barbarin's coat of arms
Styles of
Philippe Barbarin
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 was the Archbishop of Lyon from 2002 to 2020. He was made a cardinal in 2003. He was charged in 2017 and convicted in 2019 of failing to report sex abuse allegedly committed by a priest and was given a suspended six-month prison sentence.[1] On 24 June 2019, Barbarin lost his status as leader of the Archdiocese of Lyon, though he retained the title of Archbishop.[2] His conviction was overturned on appeal on 30 January 2020,[3] but Pope Francis accepted Barbarin's resignation as Archbishop of Lyon on 6 March 2020.[1]


Early life and career[edit]

Philippe Barbarin was born in 1950 in Rabat, French Morocco, then a French protectorate, into a large family with six sisters, two of whom are nuns, and four brothers.[4] Barbarin studied at the public Lycée Marcellin Berthelot in Saint-Maur and then in Paris at the Catholic Collège des Francs-Bourgeois, where he completed his baccalaureate. He studied philosophy at the Major Seminary of Paris, the Institute for Comparative Philosophy, and the Sorbonne, interrupted for a time by military service. In 1973 he entered the Institut Catholique de Paris, where he earned a theology bachelor. He was ordained on 17 December 1977 by Bishop Robert de Provenchères of Créteil.[5]

Barbarin held a variety of pastoral assignments in France until 1994, when he taught theology in the Archdiocese of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar.[5]

Episcopal career[edit]

On 1 October 1998, he was appointed Bishop of Moulins.[5] 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.[5] He was created Cardinal-Priest of SS. Trinità al Monte Pincio by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003.[6] On 24 November 2003 he was made a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.[7] He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI[8] and in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis.[9]

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


In 2010, Barbarin created a programme 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 Roman Missal.[10]

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."[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]


Barbarin suffered a double heart attack on a flight 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.[14]

Handling sexual abuse[edit]

Barbarin, and several now deceased archbishops of Lyon before him, did not report to civil authorities the sexual abuse committed by priest Bernard Preynat during Boy Scout outings between 1986 and 1991. Failure to report such crimes to police is by itself a crime under French law.[15] Barbarin, four of his subordinates, and Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican, were defendants in a lawsuit by the former boy scouts abused by Preynat.[16] A judge conducted a preliminary inquiry.[17] On 1 August 2016, the prosecuting attorney dropped the case largely based on concerns about the statute of limitations.[18] However, Barbarin and six other priests were charged in 2017 for their failure to report the incidents to the civil authorities.[19] The trial was scheduled to begin on 4 April 2018,[20] but was postponed.[21]

Prosecutor Charlotte Trabut announced that she would not file charges because the statute of limitations had passed for some charges and there was insufficient evidence to support conviction.[22][23] The victims invoked their right to press charges,[22] and Barbarin's trial began on 7 January 2019.[24][25] Five priests accused of assisting Barbarin in the cover-up were co-defendants.[26] The trial ended on 10 January,[23] and, on 7 March, Barbarin was found guilty and given a suspended prison sentence of six months.[27] His co-defendants were acquitted. Barbarin's attorney said his client would appeal the verdict.[28] Barbarin said he intended to meet with Pope Francis and resign as Archbishop of Lyon.[29] Barbarin was reported to have planned to resign "for the good of the Archdiocese" no matter what the verdict.[30]

Post-trial status[edit]

Barbarin submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in person on 18 March 2019.[31] Francis, "invoking the presumption of innocence", refused the resignation and asked Barbarin to take whatever action he thought appropriate. Barbarin announced on 19 March that Yves Baumgarten, vicar general of the Archdiocese, would replace him temporarily.[32][33][34][a]

On 24 June 2019, Pope Francis named Michel Dubost, Bishop emeritus of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes, to serve as apostolic administrator sede plena of the Archdiocese, which meant Dubost had authority over the affairs of the archdiocese while Barbarin retained his archbishop's title.[2] Barbarin's conviction was overturned on appeal on 30 January 2020.[3] The appeals court accepted Barbarin's arguments that the law did not require him to report the allegations to authorities because he learned of their allegations when Preynat's victims were adults and that he had not discouraged them making their allegations directly to the police.[39] Barbarin said he planned to meet with Pope Francis to submit his resignation again.[40]

Pope Francis accepted his resignation on 6 March 2020.[41] On 16 March 2020, Preynat was convicted of sexually assaulting boy scouts and given a five-year prison sentence.[42][43]

In popular culture[edit]

Barbarin was played by François Marthouret in the French film By the Grace of God, which chronicled a sex abuse scandal involving the Archdiocese of Lyon.[44][45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ On 5 July 2019, it was announced that the Vatican defrocked Preynat after convicting him of sex abuse.[35][36] During his second criminal trial in January 2019, which involves 35 cases of sex abuse, Preynat confessed that he had a habit of "caressing" boy scouts he oversaw when he served as scout chaplain in a Lyon suburb and that he did so in a way that brought him "sexual pleasure."[37][38]


  1. ^ a b Winfield, Nicole (6 March 2020). "Pope lets French cardinal embroiled in abuse cover-up resign". Crux. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b Wooden, Cindy. "Pope names administrator for Lyon as cardinal appeals conviction". Crux. Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b "French court overturns earlier guilty verdict on cardinal Barbarin". Reuters. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  4. ^ Barbarin, Philippe. "The lights of Lyon". 30Days (Interview). No. January – February 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d "Rinunce e Nomine, 16.07.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 16 July 2002. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  6. ^ "The New Cardinals and Their Duties". Zenit. 21 October 2003. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 24.11.2003" (Press release) (in Italian). 24 November 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Elenco degli Em.mi Cardinali che entrano in Conclave secondo il loro rispettivo ordine di precedenza (Vescovi, Presbiteri, Diaconi)" [List of the Eminent Cardinals entering into Conclave according to their respective order of precedence (Bishops, Priests, Deacons)] (in Italian). Sala Stampa della Santa Sede. 18 April 2005. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2005.
  9. ^ "Elenco dei Cardinali che entrano in Conclave secondo il loro rispettivo ordine e precedenza (Vescovi, Presbiteri, Diaconi)" [List of Cardinals entering into Conclave according to their respective order of precedence (Bishops, Priests, Deacons)] (in Italian). Sala Stampa della Santa Sede. 12 March 2013. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  10. ^ "La Maison Sainte-Blandine, un an après" (in French). Archdiocese of Lyon. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Bernadelli, Giorgio (31 July 2014). "Iraq: Cardinal Barbarin stands by Mosul's refugees". Vatican Insider. La Stampa. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Cardinal Philippe Barbarin Suffers Heart Attack". Zenit. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  15. ^ Sauvaget, Bernadette (12 February 2016). "Le cardinal Barbarin rattrapé par une affaire de pédophilie qu'il n'a pas dénoncée". Libération (in French). Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  16. ^ "French cardinal criticised over handling of abuse allegations". Catholic Herald. Catholic News Service. 23 February 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  17. ^ Sauvaget, Bernadette (4 March 2016). "Une plainte contre le cardinal Barbarin et le Vatican". Libération (in French). Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  18. ^ Cazi, Emeline (1 August 2016). "Pédophilie: pourquoi le parquet a classé l'affaire Barbarin sans suite". Le Monde (in French).
  19. ^ Worley, Will (19 September 2017). "French cardinal Philippe Barbarin to face trial for not reporting child abuse". The Independent. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022.
  20. ^ "French Cardinal Barbarin to face trial for covering up clerical sex abuse". France 24. 19 September 2017.
  21. ^ Heneghan, Tom (13 March 2018). "Trial of CDF prefect and Cardinal Barbarin postponed". The Tablet. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Prosecutor declines to press charges at French cardinal's cover-up trial". France 24. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  23. ^ a b "French court likely to acquit Catholic cardinal of sex abuse cover-up". CBS News. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  24. ^ Vaux-Montagny, Nicolas (7 January 2019). "Cardinal on trial in France's biggest church sex abuse trial". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  25. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (7 January 2019). "French cardinal goes on trial accused of helping cover up abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  26. ^ "Trial begins for French cardinal accused of abuse cover-up". Catholic News Agency. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  27. ^ "France: Card. Barbarin sentenced to six months suspended sentence". Vatican News. 7 March 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  28. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (7 March 2019). "French cardinal found guilty of covering up sexual abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  29. ^ "French cardinal to resign after conviction for failing to report abuse". Catholic News Agency. 7 March 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  30. ^ Lesegretain, Claire (11 March 2019). "Cardinal Barbarin had decided to resign 15 days before verdict". La Croix International. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  31. ^ "French cardinal, convicted of abuse cover-up, meets pope". Crux. Catholic News Service. 18 March 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  32. ^ Povoledo, Elisabetta; Breeden, Aurelien (19 March 2019). "Pope Rejects Resignation of French Cardinal Convicted of Abuse Cover-Up". New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  33. ^ Mongaillar, Vincent (19 March 2019). "Retrait de Mgr Barbarin: son remplaçant, Yves Baumgarten, a été percepteur des impôts" [Withdrawal of Bishop Barbarin: his successor, Yves Baumgarten, was a tax collector]. Le Parisien (in French). Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Le pape François refuse la démission du cardinal Barbarin". Le Monde (in French). 19 March 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  35. ^ Viet, Cyprien (4 July 2019). "Fr Preynat found guilty of sex abuse and defrocked". Vatican News. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  36. ^ Charlton, Angela (5 July 2019). "French priest stripped of clergy status for abusing Scouts". Crux. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Church sexual abuse: French priest Preynat admits 'caressing' boys". BBC News. 14 January 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  38. ^ "Paedophile French priest says Church 'could have helped' him". France 24. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  39. ^ Breeden, Aurelien (30 January 2020). "French Cardinal Acquitted of Abuse Cover-Up on Appeal". New York Times. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  40. ^ Senèze, Nicolas; Tosseri, Benevent (30 January 2020). "Relaxé, Philippe Barbarin va de nouveau remettre sa démission au pape". La Croix (in French). Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  41. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 06.03.2020" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  42. ^ "French priest gets 5-yr jail term for sex assault of boy scouts". 16 March 2020.
  43. ^ [dead link]
  44. ^ Hans, Simran (27 October 2019). "By the Grace of God review – thoughtful abuse drama". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  45. ^ "'By the Grace of God' explores clerical abuse with honesty, intelligence". Catholic Philly. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

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 Archbishop of Lyon
16 July 2002 – 6 March 2020
Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal-Priest of SS. Trinità al Monte Pincio
21 October 2003 – present