The Vatican has opened a preliminary investigation into the Cardinal and former Archbishop of Bordeaux Jean-Pierre Ricard, who a few days ago admitted having a “reprehensible” attitude with a minor under 14 years of age 35 years ago. It is the first time that a cardinal admits a crime of this nature.
“35 years ago, when I was a parish priest, I behaved reprehensibly with a 14-year-old girl. My behavior necessarily caused serious and lasting consequences for this person. I explained it to him and asked his forgiveness, and I repeat my request for forgiveness here, so like his whole family,” the cardinal wrote.
“My behavior caused serious and lasting consequences for this person”
“As a result of the elements that have emerged in recent days and following the statement by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, in order to complete the examination of what happened, it was decided to open a preliminary investigation and currently it is in the process of evaluating to the most suitable person to direct it, with the necessary autonomy, impartiality and experience, also taking into account that the French judicial authorities have opened a file on this case,” Vatican sources told EFE on Friday.
Despite the fact that Ricard admitted to having abused the young woman, the Vatican did not take any action against the cardinal, since, according to praxis, a canonical process generally does not begin until the judicial authorities of a country, in this case France, they close theirs and only after concluding the civil trial can the Church request the documentation from the judicial authorities in order to integrate it into its own evaluation.
The French Episcopal Conference reported on November 7 that eleven French bishops or former bishops are the subject of proceedings before the Justice or before the canonical instances for sexual abuse.