Retired Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, one of France’s highest-ranking prelates of the Catholic Church has confessed to abusing a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago and has offered to hand himself to the police.
Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, who stepped down as Archbishop of Bordeaux in 2019, issued a statement confessing his guilt and expressing regret for the harm he had done to the victim.
“Thirty-five years ago, when I was a priest, I behaved in a reprehensible way with a young girl aged 14,” Ricard said in a written statement.
“My behaviour has inevitably caused serious and lasting consequences for this person,” he said.
Ricard, 78, retired in 2019 to serve in his home diocese of Dignes-les-Bains, in the south of the country. In the 1980s, he was a priest in the archdiocese of Marseille.
The announcement, made at a news conference by the president of the French bishops’ conference, Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort followed a report issued last year revealing a large number of child sex abuse cases within the French Catholic Church.
Moulins-Beaufort said a total of 11 bishops and former bishops, including Ricard, have been accused of sex abuse in diverse cases investigated by French justice or church authorities.
Ricard did not however specify when exactly he had talks with the victim and asked her for forgiveness. He said he was also asking for forgiveness “to all those I hurt”.
Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort said that charges have been filed with the attorney general and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in response to Cardinal Ricard’s confession.