French cardinal says he abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago

PARIS (AP) — Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, one of France’s top Catholic prelates, resigned Monday from his religious duties after he abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago. said there is.

The move comes after a report published last year revealed. Numerous Child Sexual Abuse Cases Inside the French Catholic Church.

“35 years ago, when I was a priest, I behaved reprehensibly towards a 14-year-old girl,” Ricard said in a statement.

“My actions inevitably had serious and lasting consequences for this person,” he said.

Ricard, 78, was archbishop of Bordeaux in southwestern France, but retired in 2019 to serve in the Digne-les-Bains parish, home of Digne-les-Bains in the south of the country. In the 1980s he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Marseille.

The announcement was made Monday at a press conference by Archbishop Eric de Moulin-Beaufort, president of the Conference of French Bishops.

Moulins-Beaufort said a total of 11 bishops and former bishops, including Ricard, have been the subject of sexual abuse-related charges in various cases investigated by French judicial or ecclesiastical authorities. .

Ricard said he spoke with the victim and asked for forgiveness, but did not specify when. He also said he was seeking forgiveness from “all the people I hurt” through his statement.He didn’t elaborate on that.

French Catholic Church Paying Financial Compensation to Victims of Child Sexual AbuseRicard said he had decided “not to be silent about[his]situation any longer” and was available for justice and church authorities in the country.

A large study published last year by an independent commission estimated that about 330,000 children in France had been sexually abused by priests and other church officials over 70 years.

The tally includes an estimated 216,000 people who were abused by priests and other clergy, and the remainder by church personnel such as scout leaders and camp counselors. This estimate is based on extensive research on child sexual abuse by the French National Institute of Health and Medicine.

The report described a “systematic” cover-up by church officials and urged the Catholic Church in France to respect the French rule of law.