Three days after the name of Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet, 78, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops in Rome and former archbishop of Quebec (2003-2010), was made public for “non-consensual touching of a sexual nature”an accusation that should eventually lead to a civil trial in Canada, Pope Francis has decided for his part to close the case.
In a press release issued Thursday, August 18, the Vatican press service indicates “that there are not sufficient elements to open a canonical investigation for sexual assault on the part of Cardinal Ouellet”. In the process, Marc Ouellet firmly denied, on August 19, these allegations, judging them “defamatory”, claiming that “if a civil investigation were to be opened, [il] actively participate in it so that the truth is established and that [son] innocence is recognized”.
Very conservative positions
It is within the framework of a collective action targeting the diocese of Quebec, bringing together 101 alleged victims who claim to have been sexually assaulted by 88 priests or staff members between 1940 and today, that the name of the very powerful Canadian cardinal, regularly cited as “papabile”, appeared. Appointed in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom he was close, at the head of the Congregation of Bishops, where the careers of senior leaders of the Church around the world are made and undone, Marc Ouellet has spent most of his his own career under the golds and whispers of the Vatican.
Coming from a modest family in the Far North of Quebec, in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, he left a mixed memory of his return to the country, at the head of the diocese of Quebec, in the early 2000s. His very conservative positions, in particular his denunciation of abortion as a participant in a “culture of death”had shocked Quebec society, proud to have freed itself from the yoke of the Catholic Church.
But it’s his behavior ” inappropriate “ with a woman that the cardinal may have to respond to: in the ongoing legal proceedings, authorized in May by the Superior Court of Quebec, a plaintiff, designated by the single letter of “F”a 23-year-old intern in the diocese of Quebec at the material time, reproaches the man of the Church for massages, kisses because “it’s okay to spoil yourself a little”, would he have said to her, as well as caresses on the back “to the buttocks”committed between 2008 and 2010.
The uneasiness of the young woman was such in the face of these actions that she “understands that she must flee Cardinal Marc Ouellet as much as possible”, she explained in her deposition. Informed, members of the diocese would then have replied that the cardinal was so “warm that she was not the only woman to have this kind of problem with him”.
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