Vatican investigates priest who confessed abuse to 14-year-old girl

The Vatican launched a preliminary investigation after the revelations made by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard himself to the French bishops about his “reprehensible” behavior with a 14-year-old girl.

A preliminary investigation will be openeda preliminary investigation, on the facts mentioned with Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard”, informed the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, when answering questions from journalists.

The decision was made after the former president of the French Episcopal Conference made a statement about what he himself described as “reprehensible” acts with a minor under the age of 14 35 years ago, when he was a parish priest. The investigation was opened, according to the Vatican, to “complete the examination” of the elements that have emerged this week.

The Holy See evaluates “the most suitable person to carry it out, with the necessary autonomy, impartiality and experiencealso taking into account that the French judicial authorities have opened a file on this case”.

The Marseille prosecutor’s office, for its part, also opened a preliminary investigation for “aggravated sexual assault in order to verify the exact nature of the reported events, as well as their date”, reported the French justice on Tuesday, November 8.

“35 years ago, when I was a parish priest, I behaved reprehensibly with a 14 year old. My behavior has inevitably had serious and lasting consequences for this person,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement released a few days ago.

Ricard apologized and said that would retire from his duties and would be available to judicial and ecclesiastical authorities. He was bishop in the southwestern region of Bordeaux from 2001 to 2019.

Altogether 11 bishops or former bishops, are currently in the crosshairs of abuse investigations, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, head of the French bishops’ conference, said at a news conference Monday in which he read Ricard’s statement.

(With information from Europa Press and Aristegui News)