VATICAN CITY | Pope Francis has ruled out opening new investigations into Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is accused of sexual assault in his country, due to a lack of “sufficient evidence”, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on Thursday.
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“Pope Francis states that there is insufficient evidence to open a canonical inquiry (religious, ed.) into sexual assaults by Cardinal Ouellet against Person F,” as the complainant was called, the spokesman said in one short opinion.
Marc Ouellet, 78 years old and current prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the Vatican government’s most important functions, is said to have inappropriately touched an intern between 2008 and 2010, when he was archbishop of Quebec, according to allegations that appear in a resulting document of the class action lawsuit approved by the Supreme Court of this French-speaking province last May.
It was not until 2020 that F., who claims to have been a victim of sexual assault by another clergyman, spoke before the Québec Diocese’s Sexual Abuse Advisory Committee.
This organization then recommends him to write a letter to Pope Francis. In 2021, the sovereign pope responds by appointing “Father Jacques Servais to investigate Cardinal Marc Ouellet.”
And it is precisely on the basis of the elements gathered by Father Servais that the Pope has decided to rule out an investigation against Bishop Ouellet, indicates Mr. Bruni.
The spokesman specifies that Father Servais, whose preliminary investigation ended with the lack of sufficient elements, was contacted again by the Pope, who received the assurance that there was no reason to continue the procedure.
Unusually, the statement, written in Italian, quotes statements in French by Father Servais, a Jesuit like the Pope himself.
“There is no reason to initiate investigations into the sexual assault of Person F. by Card. Mr Ouellet,” he says.
“Neither in his report drawn up and transmitted to the Holy Father, nor in the testimony via Zoom that I subsequently collected in the presence of a member of the ad hoc diocesan committee, did this person make any allegation that would provide material for such an investigation . ” wrote Father Servais, quoted in the Vatican statement.