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Monday November 18th, 2019 4:59AM

The Latest: No immediate Vatican comment on cardinal's case

By The Associated Press
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LYON, France (AP) — The Latest on a church sex abuse trial in France (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

The Vatican isn't immediately responding to requests for comment on the conviction of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for failing to report a known sexually abusive priest to civil authorities.

The Vatican spokesman didn't immediately respond after the verdict was handed down Thursday.

In a surprise decision, the court in Lyon gave Barbarin a six-month suspended prison sentence for not reporting the Rev. Bernard Preynat's crimes in 2014-2015. Barbarin's lawyer has said he will appeal.

Pope Francis has previously said the French justice system should take its course, but has praised Barbarin as "brave."

The Vatican did, however, invoke diplomatic immunity in refusing to respond to related cover-up allegations against Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the head of its doctrine office. Ladaria was not put on trial.

___

11:15 a.m.

Alleged victims of a pedophile priest say the conviction of a French cardinal for failing to report the accusations to judicial authorities is a great victory for child protection and a powerful message to the church.

Francois Devaux, the president of the association "La Parole Liberee" (Lift the Burden of Silence), a group of victims of the Rev. Bernard Preynat said "we see that no one is above the law. We have been heard by the court. This is the end of a long path."

In a surprise verdict, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was found guilty Thursday and given a six-month suspended sentence.

Devaux added: "This is a victory that sends a strong signal to lots of victims and a signal to the church as well."

A lawyer for some of Preynat's alleged victims, Yves Sauvayre, called the verdict "historic."

"This is a turning point," he said.

___

10:50 a.m.

The lawyer for a top Catholic official who has been found guilty of failing to report to judicial authorities accusations against a pedophile priest says his client will appeal the verdict.

Jean-Felix Luciani, lawyer for Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, said "this is a decision that is not fair at the juridical level."

Speaking of his "disappointment" at the six-month suspended prison sentence, he said, "We hope that at the next step, justice will be done," suggesting he was hoping for an acquittal in the appeal.

Barbarin was not present at the court in Lyon for the verdict Thursday.

Five other defendants were acquitted. Alleged victims claim church hierarchy covered up for the Rev. Bernard Preynat for years.

___

10:15 a.m.

A French court has found top Catholic official Cardinal Philippe Barbarin guilty for failing to report to justice accusations against a pedophile priest.

In a surprise decision Thursday in France's most important church sex abuse trial, the Lyon court handed Barbarin a six-month suspended prison sentence for not reporting the facts in the period between July 2014 and June 2015. 

The Rev. Bernard Preynat's alleged victims said Barbarin and other church officials covered up for him for years, but the statute of limitations had expired on some charges and even the victims had expected that the cardinal would be acquitted.

The prosecutor had also argued against convicting, saying there were no grounds to prove legal wrongdoing.

The priest has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts in the 1970s and 80s and will be tried separately.

___

8:45 a.m.

A French court is expected to acquit a cardinal and five other defendants accused of protecting a pedophile priest at the end of France's most important church sex abuse trial.

The Lyon court will deliver its verdict on Thursday morning.

The Rev. Bernard Preynat's alleged victims said church hierarchy covered up for him for years. But by the time the four-day trial reached court in Lyon last January, the statute of limitations had expired on some charges.

Even the prosecutor argued against convicting Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and other church officials, saying there were no grounds to prove legal wrongdoing.

Barbarin faces up to three years in prison and fines if convicted.

The priest has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts in the 1970s and 80s and will be tried separately.

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