The Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a prominent prelate who holds the position of prefect of the Department of Bishops has joined the list of senior church officials associated with an abuse case. His name appears in a collective complaint filed by more than 100 victims against the Diocese of Quebec that points to 88 people, including representatives of the Church and local collaborators of the institution, allegedly responsible for sexual assaults beginning in the 1940s. Ouellet, who served as Archbishop of Quebec from 2002 to 2010, is currently not facing criminal charges. Radio Canada.
The case dates exactly from those years. The victim, a former fellow, is a woman who identifies as F., who completed a voluntary internship as a pastoral worker. The abuses took place during public events, according to the lawsuit. “He grabbed me and then … his hands went a long way on my back,” said the complainant told what happened to the program to ask. “Pretty intrusive to, say, my superior, the Archbishop of Quebec.” According to his version, the cardinal told him there was nothing wrong with a little socializing. “That made me very uncomfortable,” she complained.
This behavior was repeated several times. “I felt persecuted. It became more and more invasive, more and more intense, to the point where I stopped coming to events. I tried to avoid his presence as much as possible,” the victim continued. The Archdiocese of Quebec is aware of the allegations against the cardinal, as he admitted when asked, but declined to comment further on the complaint.
The lawyer representing the complainants recalled that Ouellet then, as archbishop, had the final say on the staff contracts of the institution. “At that point you have a young woman in her 20s facing a powerful man in a position of authority, known worldwide at the time, who was maybe 60 years old,” the lawyer stressed. In addition, when the victim decided to talk about her fear with those around her, they told her that the cardinal is an expansive man and that she was not the only woman who had had this kind of “problem” with him, according to the text of the complaint.
A priest who was under the command of the cardinal in the diocese at the time, and who has agreed to give his testimony on the condition of anonymity, told Radio-Canada that rumors had circulated about Ouellet’s conduct, who is now 78 years old. . When he heard the story of the complaining woman, he believed her. “He came as one sheriff who came to bring order to the Diocese of Quebec, they sent him from Rome,” he recalls. Ouellet returned to the Vatican in 2010 and was promoted to Prefect of the Dicastery of Bishops, the body that selects these senior ecclesiastical officials. That same year he became a cardinal. In 2018, the cardinal launched a closed defense of the pope when he was accused by the ex-nuncio in Washington, Carlo Maria Viganò, of covering up the abuses of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and asked for his resignation.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read unlimited.
The complaint, which documents even more serious matters involving clergy less prominent than Ouellet, comes three weeks after Pope Francis undertook a pastoral trip to Canada. During the journey, which the pope himself described as a “penitential pilgrimage”, apologized for the abuses of the church in the old boarding schools for native minors. The Pope’s apologies provoked expressions of emotion; However, they did not please everyone and also aroused criticism for not going beyond words.