Cardinal suspends four priests accused of molesting minors

Paris — The Roman Catholic cardinal-archbishop of Lyon said on Thursday he had suspended four priests accused of pedophile activities and said their cases were known to French judicial authorities.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin said in a statement that the four had been working in the Lyon region in central France but gave no further details about them.

He also said other priests were the "object of special measures" without elaborating or saying how many were involved.

The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked in the past two decades by sexual abuse scandals involving its priests in a number of countries worldwide, including France.

Earlier this month police questioned Cardinal Barbarin for more than 10 hours over the activities of a pedophile priest, Father Bernard Preynat, in the early 1990s and why they had not been reported to the civil authorities.

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Authorities placed Preynat under judicial investigation in January for his alleged sexual abuse of Catholic boy scouts in 1991. Preynat's lawyer said he had admitted to sexually abusing the boys. He has been released from custody on bail. 

Several victims of alleged pedophile abuse have filed complaints against Cardinal Barbarin for failing to report  incidents to the authorities and for leaving accused priests in place.

Barbarin has denied any wrongdoing, but in a statement in April he acknowledged "errors in the management and appointment of some priests".

[Reporting by Catherine Lagrange, writing by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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