The new allegations come from a woman known by the pseudonym Marie. They were sent directly to the Vatican and were the subject of a preliminary investigation, at the end of which Pope Francis did not hold back any allegations.
The letter sent to the complainant in June 2021 is signed by Archbishop of Quebec Monsignor Gérald Cyprien Lacroix and informs her of the decision that has just been taken. It contains no information on the alleged crimes, which go back to 2008 and 2009.
The allegations of sexual misconduct that you brought to my attention a few months ago against His Eminence Cardinal Marc Ouellet were transmitted by me directly to Pope Francis, the cardinal’s immediate superior, the Archbishop writes.
We can read in this letter that the Pope had rejected all allegations and found no reason to subsequently consider the accusation at the expense of Cardinal Ouellet.
The preliminary investigation is said to have been conducted under new procedures enacted by Pope Francis in 2019 to tackle sexual abuse and ensure bishops and religious leaders who are the target of allegations of misconduct are held accountable for their actions .
However, the letter does not indicate the identity of the person entrusted with this investigation, but indicates that it was carried out without the direct or indirect involvement of the Archdiocese of Quebec. Bishop Lacroix states that testimonies have been collected in both Quebec and Rome, although the steps have been taken remotely due to the circumstances imposed by the pandemic.
According to Diocese of Quebec spokeswoman Valérie Roberge-Dion, the complaint was referred to the pope as soon as it was reported to Bishop Lacroix, and the investigation was fully guided by top authority.
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The article in Golias Hebdo magazine reveals that it was Father Jacques Servais who conducted the preliminary investigation, but without meeting the complainant, information that Radio-Canada was also able to confirm.
Father Servais and Cardinal Ouellet know each other. Both worked with Casa Balthazar in Rome, an organization dedicated to the study and teaching of the thoughts of two theologians of which they are disciples. They were working on publishing a book on the subject.
It was also Father Jacques Servais who led the preliminary investigation into the allegations of misconduct made almost simultaneously by pastoral worker Paméla Groleau (New Window) and recently made public in a class action lawsuit against the Diocese of Quebec. Again, Father Servais concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations. Cardinal Ouellet firmly denied the crimes he was accused of and responded with a lawsuit for defamation.
The two cases are completely separate.
The rules issued by Pope Francis require the investigator to act impartially and without conflicts of interest. However, there are other people in Rome who could have carried out these investigations completely independently, explained theologian Jean-Guy Nadeau in an interview with Enquête last summer, when the first allegations appeared in court documents.
In addition, the investigator must make a decision within 90 days of receiving the complaint. In the latter case, Marie had to wait nine months before she received an answer.
Cardinal Ouellet, a former Archbishop of Quebec and now a close advisor to the Pope, has been prefect of the Dicastery of Bishops since 2010, one of the most important functions of the Vatican government.
At the time of writing this article, he had not responded to our request for comment.
The Diocese of Québec provides their phone line and email address to report cases of abuse: 581-316-2010 or [email protected]
With the collaboration of Sonia Desmarais.