Influential cardinal accused of sexual assault, 80 diocesan members targeted
Steph Deschamps / August 17, 2022
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who holds one of the most important positions in the Vatican government, is accused of sexual assault in a class action lawsuit made public Tuesday in Canada involving more than 80 members of the Quebec diocese.
The cleric, currently prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, allegedly engaged in inappropriate touching of an intern between 2008 and 2010 when he was Archbishop of Quebec, according to a document from the class action authorized by the Superior Court of that French-speaking province last May.
The revelations come three weeks after a visit by Pope Francis to Canada, during which he apologized for abuses perpetrated by members of the Church in residential schools for indigenous people.
Contacted by AFP, the diocese of Quebec City said it took note of the allegations against Cardinal Marc Ouellet and did not want to make any comment on this subject. These accusations are among the testimonies of 101 people who were sexually assaulted by clergy and lay employees between June 1940 and today, the court documents say.
In the case of Marc Ouellet, the complainant, identified by the letter F., claims to have been assaulted several times by the cardinal. In particular, she says that Cardinal Marc Ouellet kissed her and slid his hand down her back to her buttocks in 2010.
In February, referring to the tragedy of sexual abuse committed by clerics, Cardinal Ouellet, during an important colloquium at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Francis, condemned criminal behavior that has been hidden for too long to protect the institution.
We are all torn and humbled by these critical issues that challenge us daily as members of the church, he said.
The Catholic Church is regularly the subject of revelations about sexual assault scandals within its ranks.