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Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet resigns over sexual assault allegations

Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet resigns over sexual assault allegations
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A powerful Canadian cardinal, who has been accused of sexual misconduct twice, will retire on April 12, the Vatican’s news service announced on Monday.

The announcement made no mention of allegations against Cardinal of Quebec Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s powerful office of bishops. He was also once considered a strong competitor for the papacy.

Instead, the news service said Pope Francis accepted Ouellet’s resignation “after reaching the age limit of 75” for cardinals. according to Independent National Catholic Correspondent.

Vatican’s mishandling of high-profile harassment cases widens its most important crisis

His retirement could bring further scrutiny to the allegations. It also highlights Francis’ handling of the issue, which came just a week after the event. Catholic leader told an interviewer He said he wanted more “transparency” in the church’s handling of harassment.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the advocacy group BishopAccountability.orgHe noted that the announcement came less than two weeks after a French Catholic publication reported new sexual abuse allegations against Ouellet.

“The timing is thought-provoking and raises uncomfortable questions about the possible complicity of the Pope,” Barrett Doyle said in a statement. He said Francis should have been more transparent: “Is his dismissal a sanction?”

Ouellet was once viewed within the Vatican as a reformer on harassment issues. He described the child sexual abuse outrage that engulfed the Catholic Church in Canada in 2012 as “a source of great embarrassment and enormous scandal” and said the church’s handling of the allegations was “often inadequate”.

But in August of last year, a class action lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Quebec detailed new charges against him personally.

In the lawsuit, Ouellet accused of inappropriate touching, including kisses, massages, and remarks by a woman originally identified only as “F”. According to the lawsuit, the events began about 15 years ago, when Ouellet was archbishop of Quebec and the woman was a pastoral intern.

Pamela Groleau later declared herself an “F” and said she faced “threat and intimidation” from the Catholic Church. Ouellet denied all allegations. In December, he made a rather unusual move, demanding $100,000 in damages for defaming Groleau.

Catholic cardinal accused of sexual harassment

Catholic publication Golias Hebdo reported this month a second sexual misconduct allegation made against Ouellet in 2020. The French weekly published a letter dated 2021 from Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, the current archbishop of Quebec City, telling the unnamed complainant that the allegations are untrue. followed

In a statement to Canadian media following the report’s release, Ouellet denied the allegations and said he “had nothing to hide” without any complaints against him in civil or criminal court.

The allegations against Ouellet are strange to Francis, not just because he is seen in the Vatican as a close ally of the pope. Ouellet, Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope XVI. Despite being appointed by Benedict, Francis kept Ouellet well beyond his normal five-year term.

Ouellet was also the face of the Vatican’s responses to allegations of harassment, including the allegation that he sexually assaulted former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006. Ouellet was initially dismissed That the allegations against McCarrick were “a political conspiracy with no real basis.”

A church investigation and trial found McCarrick guilty of “sinning against the Sixth Commandment against minors and adults” and expelled him from the clergy. He is the highest ranking member of the church known to be secularized.

According to the class action, Groleau reported Ouellet to the Vatican in 2020 and reached out to Francis himself in 2021. In a statement in response to the lawsuit, the Vatican said it had decided that Francis had “inadequate grounds” for a canonical investigation.

Soon after, a priest, Rev. Jacques Servais, who knew Ouellet well and was a member of a group together, small religious association.

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