Pope Francis refused to accept the resignation Tuesday of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who was convicted of failing to report sexual abuse allegations to police.
Barbarin said Tuesday he submitted his resignation at the Vatican on Monday but the pope “spoke of the presumption of innocence and did not accept” it.
Francis instead asked Barbarin, the most senior French cleric involved in the Catholic Church’s worldwide pedophilia scandal, to do what Barbarin believes is is best for the Lyon archdiocese. The 68-year-old cardinal has decided to take a leave of absence and has asked his assistant to assume leadership of the archdiocese.
Barbarin was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence earlier this month for failing to report a predator priest to authorities. The priest, Benard Preynat, allegedly sexually abused boy scouts in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Barbarin plans to appeal his conviction, which was applauded by abuse victims as the beginning of a new era of accountability in the French Church.
The pope has previously defended Barbarin, saying in 2016 that his resignation before a trial would be “an error, imprudent.”