11 French bishops accused of sexual abuse, Catholic Church says

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PARIS — Eight former French bishops have been accused of sexual abuse and three extra of non-denunciation of abuse, the French bishops’ convention mentioned Monday, signaling that some high-level Catholic Church officers not solely turned a blind eye for many years however could have been perpetrators themselves.

Amongst these beneath investigation was Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, a former head of the French bishops’ convention, who has admitted to abusing a 14-year-old lady when he was a priest 35 years in the past.

“I behaved in a reprehensible way,” Ricard, 78, wrote in a confession letter learn throughout a information convention by Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, the present president of the bishops’ convention.

Ricard retired in 2019 after almost 20 years as archbishop of Bordeaux, however he has maintained the title of cardinal. He was appointed this 12 months to quickly supervise the Roman Catholic Foyers de Charité group, which was making adjustments after being rocked by sexual abuse scandals.

Monday’s revelations — which got here as church officers met for an annual convention — are “shocking, but not surprising,” mentioned Zach Hiner, govt director of SNAP, a community of church abuse victims.

Among the accusations have been already recognized, and wherever unbiased commissions or church officers have seemed for proof of sexual abuse over previous a long time, they’ve tended to search out instances on a surprising scale.

Final 12 months, a report from an unbiased French fee discovered that French Catholic clerics had abused greater than 200,000 minors over the previous 70 years. The report estimated the variety of perpetrators to be at the least 3,000.

Catholic clergy in France probably abused greater than 200,000 minors, unbiased fee estimates

“One doesn’t get to those kinds of levels without there being significant problems at the very top,” mentioned Hiner, who mentioned abuse accusations towards “people at the highest levels of the Catholic Church” have proliferated.

Final 12 months’s unbiased fee report in France gathered greater than 6,000 testimonies, together with from victims and witnesses, and a number of other instances have been forwarded to regulation enforcement officers.

Moulins-Beaufort mentioned Monday that at the least a number of the accused bishops can be or have been investigated by state authorities, together with parallel church investigations. However in instances the place the window of prosecution has closed, inside probes are the one choices.

Amongst victims organizations, these inside procedures have prompted requires better transparency.

“It can be rather opaque,” mentioned Hiner, criticizing instances during which bishops have been punished by the church “but without much information given to parishioners and the public as to why.”

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