Earlier this month a French court convicted Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for failing to report alleged sexual abuse by a priest of his archdiocese. This has further fueled the sense that the Church faces one of its most serious crises since the Reformation, says Samuel Gregg in a new article for the Catholic Herald:
Barbarin himself has been a larger-than-life figure in French Catholicism. Gifted in languages, an engaging public speaker, a missionary in Madagascar, and a marathon runner, he publicly associated himself with causes ranging from the pro-life movement to Catholic-Jewish dialogue and protecting Christians in the Middle East.
Barbarin’s departure leaves Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris as the French Church’s most prominent face. Thus far, Aupetit is considered to have “clean hands” concerning the sex abuse problems bubbling to the surface in French Catholicism. This, combined with his outgoing, non-defensive style, will be crucial if the French Church is to weather the storm and render justice to the victims.