French cardinal to be investigated over abuse confessions

The prosecutor’s office in Marseille has opened a preliminary investigation for “aggravated sexual assault” against Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, one of France’s highest-ranking prelates of the Catholic Church.

Ricard said Monday during a conference of French bishops that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago and is withdrawing from his religious duties.

The investigation was opened Tuesday following a letter from an advisor of the current bishop of Nice.

Dominique Laurens, the Marseille prosecutor, opened the preliminary investigation but specified that “no complaint” has yet been filed against the cardinal.

Ricard, 78, used to be the archbishop of Bordeaux, in southwestern France, until he retired from that position in 2019 to serve in his home diocese of Dignes-les-Bains, in the south of the country. In the 1980s, he was a priest in the archdiocese of Marseille.

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