Cardinal Barbarin
Lyon archbishop, cardinal Philippe Barbarin gestures as he arrives in a Lyon court on January 7, 2019 to attend his trial charged with failing to report a priest who abused boy scouts in the 1980s and 90s. The Pope accepted the resignation of Barbarin on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

Vatican City: Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of a French cardinal who was convicted and then acquitted of covering up for a paedophile priest in a case that fuelled a reckoning over clergy sexual abuse in France.

Lyon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, 69, had offered to resign when the Lyon court in March 2019 first convicted him and gave him a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report the predator priest to police.

Francis declined to accept it then, saying he wanted to wait for the outcome of the appeal. He allowed Barbarin to step aside and turn the day-to-day running of the archdiocese over to his deputy.

In January, after an appeals court acquitted Barbarin, the cardinal said he would again ask Francis to accept his resignation. He said he hoped his departure would allow for the church in Lyon to "open a new chapter" with new leadership.

Francis didn't name a replacement archbishop on Friday. A brief Vatican statement merely said he had accepted the resignation. At 69, Barbarin is six years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.

Barbarin had been accused of failing to report the Rev. Bernard Preynat to civil authorities when he learned of his abuse. Preynat has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts in the 1970s and 1980s. His victims accuse Barbarin and other church authorities of covering up for him for years.

Barbarin told the appeal hearing that he followed Vatican instructions in his handling of the case.