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Mary ManleyAll materialsThis is not the first time the Vatican has had to investigate a member of their French clergy in relation to a sexual abuse claim. Last year, a report revealed that about 330,000 children had been sexually abused by members of the Roman Catholic Church in France over the past seven decades, and failed to punish those responsible. France’s Roman Catholic community has fallen under pressure, yet again. This week, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, 78, who retired in 2019 after serving as archbishop in Bordeaux for 18 years and was a former president of the bishops’ conference in France, admitted to sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago.Ricard confessed after prosecutors in Marseille received a report about the retired cardinal in October from Bishop Jean-Philippe Nault, who had gotten a letter from the parents of the alleged victim. The letter reportedly expressed their distress that Ricard had been appointed to a committee tasked with investigating a Catholic foster home association.Ricard is also a voting member on the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith, meaning: he had been involved in judging sexual abuse cases by other clergy members for years.Nault confronted Ricard about the letter and the cardinal admitted to assaulting the 14-year-old girl, said prosecutors in Marseille. The cardinal made an admission to the assault in a written statement which was read by Eric de Moulins-Beaufort during a press conference on Monday in southwestern France.French authorities have opened an investigation into Ricard for the assault he committed as a parish priest 35 years ago.”In order to properly examine what happened, it has been decided to open a preliminary inquiry,” said Matteo Bruni, a spokesperson for the Vatican, who added that they were working to find a lead investigator who was experienced and impartial.Sister Véronique Margron had told a French newspaper the victim had twice written to Pope Francis about Ricard, once five years ago and again this past summer. In September of this year, Francis vowed to have a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, adding it was his “responsibility that it doesn’t happen anymore.”Sexual abuse within the Catholic Church has not only occurred in France, but has been pervasive across the globe. In the United States more than 4,000 priests were accused of sexually abusing children between 1950 and 2020, according to a report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.In 2002 John Geoghan, a former priest, became the central figure of the Boston sex abuse scandal in which The Boston Globe published the results of an investigation that highlighted various cases of sexual abuse in the Church that led to the prosecution of five Roman Catholic priests. Geoghan had sexually abused about 130 people, mostly boys, between 1962 and 1995. The Church failed to intervene and kept Geoghan on as a priest. He was sentenced to prison in 2002 for molesting a boy in a swimming pool in 1991, and was murdered by his cellmate while in prison a year following his sentencing.