Eleven French Bishops Accused Of ‘Sexual Violence,’ One Admits To ‘Reprehensible’ Act With Minor


Alexander Pease Contributor
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An official arm of the Catholic Church accused 11 French bishops of “sexual violence” Monday, with one of the clerics admitting to sexually assaulting a child 35 years ago.

Former Bordeaux-based Bishop Jean-Pierre Ricard, 78, confessed to committing a “reprehensible” sexual act on a 14-year-old girl, Reuters reported.

“Thirty-five years ago, when I was a parish priest, I behaved in a reprehensible way with a young girl aged 14. My behavior has inevitably led to grave and lasting consequences for this person,” Ricard admitted in an official statement.

The 78-year-old pleaded for the girl’s forgiveness and apologized to anyone impacted by the incident. The current Bordeaux bishop, Jean-Paul James, encouraged any others who were abused in the diocese to share their stories, according to BBC.

Ricard reportedly retired from his obligations as bishop in 2019. (RELATED: Catholic Bishop Blasts Biden For Comments On Abortion)

Ricard will remain a cardinal in title, which is traditionally a lifetime appointment, France 24 reported. Pope Francis appointed Ricard to the College of Cardinals in 2016, the outlet noted. Ricard also conveyed he will withdraw from all public functions in his capacity as cardinal.

It is unclear what specific consequences Ricard will face from the Vatican.

The potential outcomes range from being ordered to live a life “of penance and prayer” in isolation from public life to being ejected from the College of Cardinals, all the way up to being deposed from the priesthood, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Removal from the priesthood is considered an extreme measure to which only the most serious of serial of abusers are subjected, the Reporter continued.

In addition to Ricard, the 10 other accused bishops will face either legal prosecution or a church disciplinary process, France 24 added. (RELATED: State Supreme Court Sides With Catholic Church Who Fired Teacher In Same-Sex Marriage)

This news comes about a year after an internal Church commission produced a report which found that French clergy had sexually abused an excess of 200,000 minors since 1950.