ROME –The Vatican said Friday it has decided to launch a preliminary investigation into French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the retired archbishop of Bordeaux, who admitted in a public letter that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago.
In light of the elements that emerged in the last few days and the statement made by the cardinal, and in order to complete the examination of what happened, “it has been decided to start a preliminary investigation,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
The Vatican is now evaluating who is the person “best suited” to conduct the investigation “with the necessary autonomy, impartiality and experience,” he added.
The Vatican’s practice would be to wait until French judicial authorities have closed their own probe before starting a canonical procedure, the spokesman said. That way, the Vatican could request documentation from the French authorities to use it also in its investigation.
Cardinal Ricard revealed the abuse in a letter last week while French bishops were meeting at their annual assembly in Lourdes. He admitted to engaging in “reprehensible” conduct against the girl when he was a priest, and he said his behavior “has necessarily caused serious and lasting consequences for this person.”
The cardinal said he had asked the victim and her family for forgiveness, adding that he was going on retreat to pray. Ricard was bishop in the southwest region of Bordeaux from 2001 to 2019 and was made a cardinal in 2006 by former Pope Benedict.
An independent investigation that rocked the French Catholic Church last year revealed that the clergy had sexually abused more than 200,000 children over the last 70 years. (Anadolu)