“A preliminary investigation has been initiated to verify the elements of this revelation”, indicated the public prosecutor of Marseille, Dominique Laurens, specifying that “no complaint” has yet been filed.

Jean-Pierre Ricard, ex-bishop of Bordeaux on retirement since 2019 in a presbytery in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, caused a new earthquake in the Church with his statements.

“35 years ago, when I was parish priest, I behaved in a reprehensible way with a 14-year-old girl. My behavior necessarily caused serious and lasting consequences in this person,” the cardinal wrote today. 78 years old, without giving more details on the facts of which he incriminates himself while he was stationed in Marseille.

The facts are probably time-barred, but the justice system nevertheless opened a preliminary investigation, the first stage of a criminal investigation intended to enlighten the public prosecutor on the merits of a possible prosecution.

It must establish the commission or the attempted commission of a criminal offence. It may result in the opening of a judicial inquiry and the appointment of an investigating judge if the facts are proven and not prescribed, or in a dismissal without further action in the opposite case.

In this case, this investigation will have to determine in particular whether there are other possible victims of the cardinal.

As of Monday, the diocese of Marseilles had published a press release recalling “that any person, witness or victim of abuse or inappropriate behavior, emanating from a member of the clergy or a pastoral agent, can be heard by the diocesan cell of listen”.

He had specified that the facts reported were also “under instruction” on the side of the Church, while emphasizing the “pain and pain” they raised.

Cardinal Ricard “puts himself at the disposal of justice and the Church. He wants to tell the truth, he will not shirk. For the moment the victim has not lodged a complaint”, indicated for his part Tuesday Christophe Disdier-Chave, diocesan administrator of Digne, where the prelate is in retirement.