Influential Canadian cardinal accused of sexual abuse

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Marc Ouellet, 78, was named cardinal by Pope John Paul II on October 21, 2003. Until 2010, he held the rank of Archbishop of Quebec. For nearly two decades, he earned respect within the Catholic Church. Since yesterday, Ouellet’s name appears on news sites and newspapers around the world. Documents submitted to the Superior Court of Canada accuse the clergyman of sexual abuse — the allegations relate to a class action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec. Besides Ouellet, the suit cites more than 80 members of the Quebec clergy. According to Agence France-Presse, the court files contain the testimonies of 101 people “who were sexually assaulted” by clergy and lay officials between June 1940 and today.

An intern, identified only as “F.”, said Ouellet touched her buttocks in 2010. According to the woman, on different occasions the cardinal pressed her body against hers, massaged her shoulders and stroked, “vigorously”, your back.

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” Leona Huggins, 60, a representative of the Father Abuse Survivors Network in Western Canada, told The Post. “This takes us directly to the highest levels of the Catholic Church. We need to look closely at those who lead the Church here in Canada and around the world. We also have to ask ourselves why we give them so much power,” Huggins commented. , victim of a pedophile priest at the age of 12, in 1974.

Leona highlighted the fact that, since 2010, Ouellet has held the position of Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops. “That means that he is the one who chooses the bishops,” he recalled. While acknowledging the need for more data on the allegations contained in court documents, the activist praised F.’s position in making the abuses suffered public. “I commend the victims for coming forward. I know how hard it is to report someone you trust.”

Reached by Agence France-Presse, the diocese of Quebec limited itself to saying that it “learned of the charges brought against Cardinal Ouellet”, but refused to comment on the case. “I believe there are many unreported cases of sexual abuse against women and men within the Church, at all levels of the institution. was tipped to become pope,” Leona said. She explained that F. would have been treated with discredit by several clerics. “I am grateful that a priest listened to her and believed her.”


In February, during a symposium in Vatican City and in the presence of Pope Francis, Cardinal Ouellet evoked the “drama of sexual abuse committed by clerics”. The Canadian criticized the “criminal behavior that has long been covered up to protect the institution”. “We are all divided and humbled by these critical issues, which challenge us every day as members of the Church,” he said at the time. He saw the event as a chance for the Holy See to seek forgiveness from the victims.

Julia Fleming

"Prone to fits of apathy. Beer evangelist. Incurable coffeeaholic. Internet expert."

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