France's Lyon diocese sacks four priests for sex abuse

France's Lyon diocese sacks four priests for sex abuse

Lyon (AFP) - Four priests of the Catholic diocese of Lyon in eastern France have been relieved of their duties for sexual abuse, a diocesan source said Thursday.

A panel of experts recommended the measure, the source added, declining to say whether the clerics had already been named since the diocese's predator priest scandal came to light in March, rocking France's Catholic Church.

French judicial authorities are aware of all four dossiers, the source said.

The dismissals come three weeks after Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, was questioned by police over allegations that he covered up the sexual abuse of boy scouts.

One of France's most powerful Catholic leaders, Barbarin has been accused of failing to remove a priest, Bernard Preynat, from his diocese when he became aware the man had sexually abused young boys 25 years ago.

Preynat was relieved of his duties last year.

Pope Francis issued a decree early in June that senior Catholic officials guilty of negligence in child abuse cases can now be dismissed from office.

The nine-member expert panel -- which included a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, a doctor and Church legal expert -- also recommended that the diocese keep an eye on other priests who have already been investigated.

Several other members of the Lyon diocese have already been questioned by investigators and several police raids have been carried out at the archbishop's office.

Barbarin had said in April that he would reveal the panel's conclusions by the end of June.

He said the members were tasked with "studying and analysing the cases of certain priests whose situation is problematic in terms of their pastoral activity, civil or Church law in the affective and sexual domain."

The panel, which also includes a lay woman and man, both of whom are parents, has met seven times.