In France, rebel priest takes on church bosses on sex abuse

0Source: Associated Press

By JOHN LEICESTER

SAINT-MARTIN-EN-VERCORS, France (AP) — When a lowly Roman Catholic father rebels against the church hierarchy, publicly castigating a prominent cardinal’s handling of child sex-abuse cases, is that an act of backstabbing against the institution he serves or a brave solo effort to help save it?

That is the debate provoked by the actions of a priest in France, with his remarkable step of petitioning the cardinal to resign. Judging from the sheaf of letters and cards that Rev. Pierre Vignon is clutching in his soft, plump hands, his uprising has divided churchgoers.

To hate-mailers, the previously anonymous 64-year-old propelled into the spotlight by his online petition launched two weeks ago is an attention-grabbing egomaniac who is courting disaster by taking on the influential archbishop of the southeastern city of Lyon.

But mostly, Vignon says, those writing to him are supportive. They include people who have themselves been abused by predator priests. He plucks one such “thank you” card from the pile and reads out loud.

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