French cardinal says abused 14-year girl, withdraws from functions

Reuters [London, England]

November 7, 2022

By GV De Clercq and Ingrid Melander

Paris – French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard said on Monday that he had abused a 14-year-old girl decades ago and he would withdraw from his functions.

“Thirty-five years ago, when I was a parish priest, I behaved in a reprehensible way with a young girl aged 14. My behaviour has inevitably led to grave and lasting consequences for this person,” Ricard said in a statement.

Ricard asked for forgiveness and said he would withdraw from his functions and be available for legal and church authorities. He was bishop in the southwest region of Bordeaux from 2001 to 2019.

In total, 11 bishops or former bishops, including a former bishop in Creteil, near Paris, Michel Santier, are currently targeted by abuse investigations, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, head of the French bishops’ conference, told a news conference on Monday. He read out Ricard’s statement during the event.

These are the latest revelations to hit the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sexual abuse violations around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.

In France last year, an independent investigation said French clergy had sexually abused more than 200,000 children over the past 70 years, and its authors said the Catholic Church had turned a blind eye for too long.