Vatican. An announcement of an investigation into the case of a French cardinal who admitted to abusing a 14-year-old girl
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni announced on Friday that a church investigation would begin in the case of French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, who on Monday pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl.
The director of the Vatican’s press office, Matteo Bruni, announced that the preliminary investigation would begin after finding the most suitable person to carry it out, “with the necessary autonomy, impartiality and experience”.
However, the Vatican’s investigation will not be fully launched until the investigation launched by the French civil authorities has been completed, so that its findings can be used in the Church’s proceedings.
November 8 the prosecutor’s office in Marseille said to initiate a preliminary investigation against the Cardinal, retired Archbishop of Bordeaux. The clergyman was said to have committed a sexual assault thirty-five years ago.
The cardinal sexually abused a 14-year-old girl
The day before the announcement of the French prosecutor’s office, a statement was read during a press conference in Lourdes in which Jean-Pierre Ricard, 78, pleaded guilty. “35 years ago, when I was the parish priest, I behaved in a reprehensible manner with a young girl of 14 years old. My behavior must have had serious and lasting consequences for this person,” Ricard said in a statement. The cardinal asked the victim and her family for forgiveness and added that he would resign from all the functions he still held. He assured that he would not shirk responsibility before secular and ecclesiastical authorities.
Prosecutor Dominique Laurens from Marseille said that no official complaint has yet been filed. A preliminary inquiry was opened after signals were received from the Episcopal curia in Nice to determine “the exact nature of the revealed facts and their dating”.
Richard was appointed cardinal in 2006. In the years 2001-2019 he was the Archbishop of Bordeaux. In the past, he was also the president of the Bishops’ Conference France and vice-president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences. In 2013, he participated in the conclave of his choice Pope Francis.
Sexual crimes in the Church
According to a report on sexual abuse in the French Church published in 2021, French clerics have sexually abused more than 216,000 minors in the past 70 years. At a conference in Lourdes on Monday, it was reported that 11 former or current bishops in France, including Jean-Pierre Ricard, are currently suspected of sexual abuse in cases brought before the state or church judiciary.
Main photo source: Francois DUCASSE / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
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