The Vatican mentioned Friday it has determined to launch a preliminary sex-abuse investigation right into a distinguished French cardinal after he admitted to having behaved in a “reprehensible method” with a 14-year-old woman 35 years in the past.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni mentioned a search was below method to discover a lead investigator with the “crucial autonomy, impartiality and expertise.”
Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the retired archbishop of Bordeaux and a former president of the French bishops’ convention, confessed to the abuse in a letter final week whereas French bishops had been assembly at their annual meeting in Lourdes. The revelation additional sparked outrage inside the French Catholic Church, which has been reeling over revelations of a long time of abuse and cover-ups detailed in a groundbreaking report final 12 months.
Marseille prosecutors introduced this week they’d opened an investigation into Ricard for alleged “aggravated sexual assault” however that “no grievance” had but been filed towards the cardinal.
The choice by the Vatican to go forward and open its personal investigation whereas the French prison probe was below method was uncommon and prompt the seriousness of the matter for Rome. A cardinal since 2006, Cardinal Ricard is a high-ranking member of a number of essential Vatican places of work. Most importantly, he’s a voting member on the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Religion, which means he has been concerned in adjudicating different clergy sex-abuse instances for years.
There was no phrase on whether or not he can be suspended or faraway from his Vatican member posts pending the investigations. Cardinal Ricard mentioned in his letter he was putting himself on the discretion of church and civil authorities.
In saying their investigation, Marseille prosecutors mentioned they first acquired a report about Cardinal Ricard in October from the Good bishop, who reported having acquired a letter from the mother and father of the alleged sufferer who had been outraged that Cardinal Ricard had been appointed by the Vatican to a group investigating a Catholic affiliation that runs foster houses.
When Good Bishop Jean-Philippe Nault confronted Cardinal Ricard in regards to the mother and father’ letter, the cardinal “admitted to this prelate that, greater than 40 years in the past, he had ‘kissed’ the daughter of this couple, whose non secular marriage he would later have celebrated,” Marseille prosecutors mentioned.
Sister Véronique Margron, head of the convention of non secular orders in France, informed France’s La Croix Catholic newspaper this week that the sufferer herself had twice written to Pope Francis – as soon as 5 years in the past, and once more in Might-June of this 12 months after she didn’t obtain a response.
Mr. Bruni didn’t reply when requested if the pope acquired both of the letters. Mr. Bruni mentioned the choice to open the preliminary investigation into Cardinal Ricard was made “to finish the examination of what occurred, given the weather which have emerged in latest days and the declaration given by the cardinal.”
Francis has vowed “zero tolerance” for clerics who abuse and lately has eliminated a number of bishops and some cardinals for abuse and cover-ups. However he had an enormous studying curve on abuse and initially botched some instances, trusting the phrases of clerics over the victims.
Final 12 months, France’s Sauve report into Catholic abuse estimated that 330,000 youngsters in France had been sexually abused over the previous 70 years by some 3,000 clergymen and different folks concerned within the church and that the crimes had been lined up in a “systemic method” by the church hierarchy.