accused of sexual assault, Cardinal Ouellet under investigation by the Pope

accused of sexual assault, Cardinal Ouellet under investigation by the Pope

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, cited for a time among the favorites to become pope, is accused of sexual assault in a class action made public Tuesday, August 16 in Canada. The cleric, current prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the most important functions of the Vatican government, allegedly inappropriately touched an intern between 2008 and 2010 when he was archbishop of Quebec, according to accusations appearing in a document resulting from the class action authorized by the Superior Court of this French-speaking province last May.

These revelations come three weeks after a visit of Pope Francis to Canada, during which he apologized for abuses perpetrated by Church members at residential schools. Contacted by AFP, the diocese of Quebec replied to take “Act of the allegations against Cardinal Marc Ouellet”78 years old, and do not want “Strictly make no comment on this”.

This complaint is among the testimonies of 101 people claiming to have been “sexually assaulted” by more than 80 members and lay employees of the Diocese of Quebec between June 1940 and today, the court documents point out.

“The feeling of being chased”

In the case of Marc Ouellet, the complainant, designated by the letter “F.”, claims to have been assaulted several times by the cardinal. In 2008, the young woman explains that the cardinal would have massaged her shoulders ” with force “would have stroked her back while holding her “firmly against him”Many times.

F. tries to avoid the cardinal, but he comes back to her. She then “the feeling of being chased”, can we read in the document. In 2010, Marc Ouellet met her twice in one week. It is the time to “kiss her again” because “It’s okay to spoil yourself a little”, he would have said, according to the same source. A comment “completely inappropriate”according to F. She adds that the monk would have ” kissed “ and would have “slipped his hand” along his back “up to her buttocks”.

An investigation launched by the pope

When the complainant dares to address the facts around her, she learns “that she is not the only woman to have this kind of “problems” with him”, state the court documents. It was not until 2020 that F., who says he was also the victim of sexual assault by another cleric, spoke about it to the advisory committee on sexual abuse of the diocese of Quebec. The organization then recommends that he write a letter to the pope francis. In 2021, the Bishop of Rome responds by appointing “Father Jacques Servais to investigate Cardinal Marc Ouellet”. No conclusion has yet been sent to the complainant.

Contacted by AFP, the Vatican did not react immediately. Marc Ouellet was cited among the favorites of the last conclave at the end of which the Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in 2013.

In February, Cardinal Ouellet castigated the “drama of sexual abuse committed by clerics” and the “criminal behavior concealed for too long to protect the institution”during an important symposium at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Francis. “We are all torn and humbled by these crucial questions that challenge us every day as members of the Church”, he had said.

In Canada, the Catholic Church is currently facing several class action lawsuits for sexual assault. In the west of the country, more than 30 students are currently suing several leaders of a Christian school, the public broadcaster CBC reported.

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