Pope rules out investigation of cardinal accused of sexual assault in Canada
Eva Deschamps / August 19, 2022
Pope Francis has ruled out, for lack of sufficient elements, the opening of a new investigation against the Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, accused of sexual assault in his country, announced Thursday the Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.
Pope Francis declares that there are not sufficient elements to open a canonical (religious) investigation for sexual assault by Cardinal Ouellet against the person F., as the complainant has been named, the spokesman said in a brief statement.
Marc Ouellet, 78, the current prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the most important offices in the Vatican government, allegedly touched an intern inappropriately between 2008 and 2010 when he was archbishop of Quebec City, according to accusations in a document from the class-action lawsuit authorized by the Superior Court of that French-speaking province last May.
It wasn't until 2020 that F., who says she was also sexually abused by another cleric, spoke to the sexual abuse advisory committee of the Quebec diocese.
The committee recommended that she write a letter to Pope Francis. In 2021, the pontiff 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 exclude an investigation against Bishop Ouellet, Bruni said.
The spokesman said that Father Servais, whose preliminary investigation concluded that there were no sufficient elements, was contacted again by the Pope, who was assured that there was no reason to continue the procedure.
Unusually, the statement, written in Italian, quotes the French statements of Father Servais, a Jesuit like the pope himself.
There are no grounds to open an investigation for sexual assault of person F. on the part of Card. M. Ouellet, he said.
Neither in his written report sent to the Holy Father, nor in the testimony via Zoom that I subsequently gathered in the presence of a member of the diocesan ad hoc committee, did this person make an accusation that would provide material for such an investigation, Father Servais wrote, quoted in the Vatican statement.