France's prime minister has appealed to a Catholic cardinal at the center of abuse cover-up allegations to take action, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

Manuel Valls said Tuesday that Cardinal Philippe Barbarin should "take responsibility and talk and act."

But Barbarin — among six church officials targeted in a preliminary judicial investigation — told a news conference he never concealed cases of child abuse reported to him.

Barbarin, Lyon's cardinal since 2003, said he may have made mistakes, but stressed: "I have never, never, never covered up any act of pedophilia."

Pressure for the cardinal to resign has grown since 2015, when several men said a priest had molested them when they were boy scouts in the 1980s. The priest was charged with rape Jan. 27.