Eleven former or serving French bishops have been accused of sexual abuse, including the former bishop of Bordeaux, who confessed to sexually assaulting a minor 35 years ago, according to a senior church body announced Monday.
Jean-Pierre Ricard, a long-standing bishop of Bordeaux who was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2016, has admitted to a “reprehensible” act on a 14-year-old girl, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of France, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, said. He added that all of the accused will face either prosecution or church disciplinary procedures.
French bishops are meeting in Lourdes for their autumn conference where they plan to discuss ways to improve their communication and transparency regarding historic sex crime allegations against the clergy.
The catholic church was rocked last year by the findings of an inquiry that confirmed widespread abuse of minors by priests, deacons and lay members of the Church dating from the 1950s.
More than 216,000 minors have been abused by clergy in France over the past seven decades, a number that climbed to 330,000 when claims against lay members of the Church are included, such as teachers at Catholic schools.
The commission that produced the report denounced the “systemic character” of efforts to shield clergy from prosecution, and urged the Church to pay compensation to victims.