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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard Admits to Abusing 14-year-old Girl

He has withdrawn from all religious duties now

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FRANCE: One of the top Catholic prelates Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard in France has resigned after confessing to assaulting a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago.

After a study published last year found a “massive phenomenon” of child sex abusers functioning for decades within the French Catholic Church, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard released a written statement on the subject on Monday.

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Ricard, 78, served as the archbishop of Bordeaux in southwest France until he resigned from his office in 2019 to reside in his own diocese of Dignes-les-Bains in the nation’s south. He served as a priest in the Marseille archdiocese in the 1980s.

Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, announced during a press conference.

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According to Moulins-Beaufort, Ricard was one of 11 current, and previous bishops who had been accused of sexual assault in various situations looked into by French judicial or church authorities.

Ricard claimed, without elaborating, that he had spoken to the victim and begged her for forgiveness. He claimed that by making his statement, he was also pleading with “all those I wounded” for forgiveness. He didn’t go into further detail.

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Ricard declared he had decided “not to stay silent anymore about my situation” at a time when the French Catholic Church had only recently begun to give monetary compensation to victims of child sexual assault.

According to extensive research conducted last year and published by an independent panel, 330,000 children in France were sexually molested over a period of 70 years by priests or other members of the clergy.

The total comprised an estimated 216,000 victims of clergy abuse, with the remainder being victims of those working for related organizations like scoutmasters and camp counselors. The figures were based on a more extensive investigation into child sexual abuse conducted by France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

The French Catholic Church was asked to uphold the French constitution and the rule of law after the study exposed a “systemic” cover-up by church authorities.

Also Read: Pope Francis Bound for Canada to Offer Apologies as Catholic Church’s Role in Indigenous Abuse Comes to Light

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