Sexual assault: prosecuted in Canada but cleared by the Pope, Cardinal Ouellet, honorary citizen of

Sexual assault: prosecuted in Canada but cleared by the Pope, Cardinal Ouellet, honorary citizen of

the essentials Almost 9 years to the day, Cardinal Marc Ouellet was made an honorary citizen of the municipality of Rocamadour. A reminder that should spark reactions in the Lot while the former Archbishop of Quebec is implicated in sexual assault in Canada. In any case, Pope Francis decided and granted the clemency of the Vatican to the prelate after controversial investigations. A case that is far from over and is causing controversy in Italy, Canada and maybe soon in France.

In the Diocese of Cahors, we are closely following the follow-up to the revelations about Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who should be prosecuted in Canada for sexual assault, according to allegations published in a document released on August 16, 2022, emerging from the collective lawsuit , approved by the Supreme Court of this French-speaking province in May. Revelations that come three weeks after the Pope’s visit to Canada, in a very particular context, that is, after Francis’ apology for the attacks committed by members of the Church in native boarding schools.

The current prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the most important functions of the Vatican government, is said to have improperly touched an intern between 2008 and 2010, when he was Archbishop of Quebec. Suspected facts obviously not known to the Diocese of Cahors when Monseigneur Ouellet was proclaimed honorary citizen of the city of Rocamadour on August 15, 2013 by Mayor Pascal Jallet, who died in 2020. Time in the presence of the Bishop of Cahors Norbert Turini, Bishop of Angers Emmanuel Delmas and Ronan de Gouvello, Rector of the Shrine of Rocamadour. Pascal Jallet recalled Rocamadour’s ties to Québec and the Vatican due to its position as the fourth holiest site in Christianity.

Nine years after the facts were denounced, Pope Francis’ reaction was therefore eagerly awaited. In particular, by the Associations of Victims of Sexual Violence in the Catholic Church, who had welcomed his decision to amend canon law on the subject on December 17, 2019. The Vatican had stated at the time that “pontifical secrecy does not apply to charges, trials and decisions” regarding sexual violence by clergymen against minors, vulnerable persons or persons subject to their authority, the concealment of such facts by the hierarchy, and possession of child pornography . A revolution within the church when we know to what extent papal secrecy in this type of case could render opaque and frustrating canonical procedures against clerical aggressors.

However, victims’ associations were disappointed to learn this Thursday that Pope Francis had somehow acquitted Cardinal Ouellet before the Canadian judiciary had completed the case. “Pope Francis states that there is insufficient evidence to initiate a canonical investigation (religious, ed.) into sexual assaults by Cardinal Ouellet against Person F.,” the complainant’s name said the Vatican spokesman in a brief statement. A relief for Marc Ouellet, now 78, who made these allegations on April 19. [il] take an active part in establishing the truth and such [son] Innocence is acknowledged.”

Time is on his side. It was only in 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, which then recommended that he write a letter to Pope Francis.

The plaintiff, who claims to have been assaulted by the cardinal on several occasions, is said to have explained that in 2008 the cardinal “forcefully” massaged her shoulders, stroked her back and “hugs her tightly” on multiple occasions. F. would then have tried to avoid the cardinal, but according to her, he would have returned to her. She says she “had the impression of being hunted” at the time.

In 2021, the sovereign pope responded 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, Matteo Bruni indicates. The Vatican spokesman said Thursday that Father Servais had been contacted again by the pope, who had received assurances that there was no reason for the proceedings to continue. “Neither in his report, which he wrote and sent to the Holy Father, nor in the testimony via Zoom, which I subsequently collected in the presence of a member of the diocesan ad hoc committee, did this person make any allegation that would provide material for such an investigation,” wrote Father Servais, quoted in the Vatican press release.

These are therefore the conclusions of the Church…but not those of the Canadian judiciary. Now worried eyes are turning to Quebec.

Cardinal Ouellet is a very conservative candidate to succeed Pope Francis

Marc Ouellet stands Benedict XVI. close, who appointed him head of the Episcopal Congregation in 2010. Coming from a modest family in far north Quebec, he left a mixed memory of his time as head of the Quebec diocese in the early 2000s. His very conservative positions, particularly his public condemnation of abortion as a participant in a “culture of death”. , deeply shocked Quebec society, proud to have freed itself from the yoke of the Catholic Church.