(ZENIT News / Lourdes, 098.11.2022).- In the context of the French Episcopate’s Plenary Assembly, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard made a public statement in which he acknowledged having abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago, when he was a parish priest. It is the first time that a Cardinal admits on his own a crime of this nature. The statement is dated November 7.
Here is the Cardinal’s statement, translated from French by ZENIT.
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Today, when the Church in France has decided to listen to the victims and act with truth, I have decided not to be silent about my situation and to put myself at the disposition of justice, both on the legal plane as well as in that of the law.
This is a difficult step. However, what is most important is the suffering experienced by the victims and the acknowledgement of acts committed, without concealing my responsibility.
Thirty-five years ago, when I was a parish priest, I behaved reprehensibly with a 14-year-old girl. My behaviour necessarily caused grave and lasting consequences for this person.
I explained it to her and apologized to her, and I repeat here my petition for pardon, as well as to all her family.
It is because of these actions that I have decided to spend some time in retreat and prayer.
Finally, I ask pardon from all those I have wounded and who will live this news as a real trial.
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About Cardinal Ricard
Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop Emeritus of Bordeaux , France, was born on September 25, 1944 in Marseilles, France. He was ordained a priest on October 5, 1968.
On April 17, 1993, he was appointed Titular Bishop of Pulcheriopolis and Auxiliary of Grenoble. He received Episcopal Ordination on June 6 of the same year. On July 4, 1996, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Montpellier and, on September 6 of the same year, he was appointed Bishop of the diocese.
He travelled to Peru on 1999 to visit a fidei donum priest of Montpellier, Father André Bésinet. He travelled to Lebanon in 2000 to meet with political and religious leaders.
On December 21, 2001, he was appointed Archbishop of Bordeaux. He is the author of the book “Seven Challenges for the Church.”
He took part in two Synods: on the Bishop’s Ministry in 2001 and on the Eucharist in 2005. He was also President of the French Episcopal Conference from November 6, 2001 to November 5, 2007, and Vice-President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) from October 2006 to October 2011.
Benedict XVI created him Cardinal on March 24, 2006. He was one of the Electors of Pope Francis.
Translation of the French original by ZENIT’s Editorial Director and, into English, by Virginia M. Forrester