Victims of sexual abuse by a Lyon priest have urged the Vatican to recognise the responsibility of his archdiocese in the affair, which could open the door to compensation payments by the Church.
About 15 of them sent their demand to the Vatican after the admitted abuser, Bernard Preynat, was removed from the clerical state in July. The archdiocesan court said at the time that he could now concentrate on considering the financial demands of his victims.
More than 20 of his alleged victims have filed for damages of over 10,000 euros each.
But Preynat is insolvent and the archdiocese had no answer to questions about how the victims could otherwise be compensated.
The victims argued in their messages to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's top court, that the archdiocese was responsible for keeping him in ministry until 2015 and thus enabling his abuse.
"Successive bishops (since the early 1980s) knew that Bernard Preynat was a criminal pedophile and they chose to keep him in contact with children, knowingly, without any measure of control,"one message argued. "The Lyon archdiocese must bear the responsibility for these facts.”
The victims have also demanded that Fr Bruno Gonçalves, head of the archdiocesan court, be barred from handling the compensation issue because he was appointed to his post by Lyon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.
“I question his level of neutrality,” one wrote in his message.
Barbarin has appealed against his civil conviction for not denouncing Preynat’s crimes to the police and that case is due in court in late November.
Pope Francis has refused his offer to resign as archbishop but named an apostolic administrator with full powers in his place pending the appeal court’s decision.
Preynat is due to face a civil court on abuse charges, probably in January.