Pope Francis has voiced support for a French cardinal who has faced allegations of covering up cases of pedophile priests in his Lyon parish, saying he shouldn't resign.

Francis said in an interview with French Catholic daily La Croix coming out Tuesday that a resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin "would be a mistake, an imprudence."

"Based on the information I have, I think in Lyon, Cardinal Barbarin has taken the necessary measures and has taken things well in hand," the Pope said. "He is a brave and creative man, a missionary."

Francis said "we must now wait for the result of the proceedings before the civil courts," but resigning now "would amount to admitting guilt."

Barbarin is targeted by two investigations, but has denied any cover-ups.