Cardinal Ricard

Confession not enough, Prosecutors tell Catholic cardinal

Prosecutors in Marseille, France, have told Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, a high-ranking Catholic prelate, that confession of wrongdoing is not enough. 

What wrongdoing? 

Announcing withdrawal from his religious duties on Monday, Ricard had confessed to abusing a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago. The letter was read on Monday, during a conference of French bishops. “Thirty-five years ago, when I was a priest, I behaved in a reprehensible way with a young girl aged 14”, Ricard said in the confession, adding that, “My behavior has inevitably caused serious and lasting consequences for this person”. In reaction to the confession, the prosecutor’s office in Marseille has now opened a preliminary investigation for “aggravated sexual assault” against Ricard.  

What are the charges against him? 

No charges have been made against Ricard, as “no complaint” has yet been filed against the cardinal, according to Dominique Laurens, the Marseille prosecutor. Ricard, 78, was the archbishop of Bordeaux, in southwestern France, from 2001 until his retirement in 2019 when he moved to his home diocese of Dignes-les-Bains. At the time of committing the abuse, Ricard was a priest in the archdiocese of Marseille. 

Ironically, Ricard is a member of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, which makes him a voting member of the Vatican office that adjudicates sexual abuse cases involving the clergy. A study released last year by an independent commission estimated that as many as 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse by priests or other church-related figures in France, over a 70-year period. 

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