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Lyon archbishop summons priests to discuss paedophilia scandals
The Catholic Archbishop of Lyon summoned the priests from his diocese to a meeting to discuss the paedophilia scandals that have blown up in the central French city on Monday. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin is accused of covering up child-abuse by priests but denies doing so.
The roughly 150 members of the local Catholic clergy were invited to the closed-door meeting at a chapel on the outskirts of the central French city to "take stock of" the revelations and the decisions already taken in reaction to them, as well as "new orientations" for nominations.
The priests themselves are reported to be divided between "negationists" and those who favour a tough response.
One of the latter is Father Franck Gacogne of Saint-Benoît church in Bron, who wrote to parishioners in April telling them that "paedophilia is morally worse coming from a priest" and that "the Gospel has been betrayed".
Priest accused of sexually abusing scouts
The diocese has been hit by scandal since the revelation several months ago that Father Bernard Preynat had molested scouts in the region some 25 years ago.
Preynat was charged in January and several legal complaints have been lodged against Barbarin, accusing him of failing to notify the legal authorities.
Other cases come to light
Five other cases of sexual abuse or paedophilia connected to the diocese have come to light since and alleged victims have come forward in two other parts of France.
A former priest was charged with "aggravated sexual abuse of a minor" on Saturday in Montauban, near Toulouse.
Jean-Marc Desperon, 62, who was transferred from Lyon in 1994 but later left holy orders, went missing after the Mediapart website revealed that a case had been filed against him earlier this month.
Victims' groups write to priests
The victims' group that brought the Preynat case to light, La Parole Libérée (Freed Speech), sent a letter to Lyon priests last week asking them to "speak for the silent victims".
Barbarin denies covering up paedophilia cases and the French Catholic church has announced a number of measures, including counselling for victims and an independent inquiry.