A retired French bishop is under investigation for what he called “inappropriate gestures” towards a woman several decades ago.
Monsignor Jean-Pierre Grallet, archbishop emeritus of Strasbourg, said in a statement published Wednesday he deeply regretted making “inappropriate gestures [gestes déplacés] toward a young woman of legal age” in the late 1980s.
The 81-year-old Franciscan religious said he had written to the woman in the summer of 2022, “to tell her that I had failed her and to ask her forgiveness.”
Grallet said he would now await the outcome of the canonical and civil investigations, and withdraw “from public speaking.”
His successor and current Archbishop of Strasbourg on Wednesday said he had been contacted by the victim in December 2021.
“I reported the matter to the Strasbourg Public Prosecutor in January 2022. The Roman authorities have also been informed. These investigations are ongoing,” Archbishop Eric Ravel’s statement said.
Ravel assured the victim and her family of his compassion and said the diocese had reacted with “real pain and great sadness” to Grallet’s statement about acts “which date back to the fall of 1985 when he was a priest.”
Grallet made his solemn vows as a Franciscan on 15 September 1968 and was ordained a priest on 28 June 1969. He served as Archbishop of Strasbourg from 2007 to 2017.
The Franciscan order’s provincial said on Wednesday he had entrusted Grallet with the responsibility of a house of senior brothers.
“After having taken the advice of the Council of the Province, I have decided to suspend him from his office on November 4, 2022, pending the conclusions of the investigation.”
Last week, a French Cardinal said in a statement he had abused a 14-year-old girl several decades ago and was making himself available to authorities.
The 78-year-old Jean-Pierre Ricard was bishop of Bordeaux, in the southwest of France, from 2001 to 2019.
Another French diocese in October confirmed its former bishop had been credibly accused of sexual abuse and ordered to live a life of “prayer and penance” by the Vatican last year.
Concern over handling of landmark report
Pope Francis received French President Emmanuel Macron on Oct. 24 at the Vatican.
Before the meeting, a group of victims of sexual abuse urged Macron to directly raise the issue of whether the Church in France was too slow in reacting to a landmark investigation of sexual abuse released one year ago.
According to the independent report, published in late 2021, hundreds of thousands of children were abused in the Catholic Church in France between 1950 and 2020.