Canada: Weeks after Pope's visit, a prominent cardinal named in a sexual assault class lawsuit

canada: weeks after pope's visit, a prominent cardinal named in a sexual assault class lawsuit

Canada: Weeks after Pope's visit, a prominent cardinal named in a sexual assault class lawsuit

Weeks after Pope Francis returned from a six-day trip to Canada where he apologised to victims of sexual abuse by the Church, a Canadian cardinal named Marc Ouellet, regarded as a potential successor to him and having a high-ranking position within the Vatican has been accused of sexual assault.

Reportedly, a class action lawsuit has been filed against Cardinal Ouellet and more than 88 members of the clergy in the Quebec diocese. More than 100 victims have lent their weight to the civil lawsuit where some damning claims have been made.

Ouellet’s name had not come up in the lawsuit up until now but according to court documents, an alleged victim, identified as ‘F’ stated that she was interning as a pastoral agent between 2008 and 2010 when the series of assaults by Ouellet took place. The victim added that most of the assaults took place during public events.

WATCH | Pope in Canada to apologise for abuse of indigenous children

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Ouellet was the archbishop and head of the archdiocese at the time, parachuted from Rome. He had the authority to hire individuals as pastoral agents and thus his strong position may have forced the victim to keep quiet.

“He grabbed me and then…his hands on my back, they went down pretty low. Quite intrusive for, let’s say for someone who is my superior, who is the archbishop of Quebec.” said the victim on a Radio show.

“I felt chased after. It became more and more invasive, more and more intense to the point where I stopped attending events. I tried avoiding being in his presence as much as possible,” the victim further added.

The court documents further reveal that the victim went to the committee in charge of reviewing sexual allegations 10 years later where she shared her story.

The committee believed her and told her to file a complaint. The committee went to the Vatican in 2021 and filed the complaint. A virtual meeting was arranged between the victim and the Vatican church.

However, more than a year after the meeting, nothing has come out of it as Ouellet continues to hold a prominent public image.

It is pertinent to note that most of the 100-odd victims were sexually abused when they were minors by the priests and other staff with cases dating back to the 1940s.

With the victim ‘F’ shedding light on Ouellet, one of the big fishes, it is expected to open a pandora’s box. In most cases, the abuser has not committed a sexual offence for the first time.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs believe that more such cases may be unearthed as the lawsuit receives public exposure.

(With inputs from agencies)

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