VATICAN CITY: Merely weeks after Pope Francis journeyed to Canada on a special mission to apologise to victims of sexual abuse by the Church, a Canadian Cardinal named Marc Ouellet, regarded as the Pope’s potential successor, key aide and high-ranking Vatican official, has found himself in hot waters i.e; accused in a sexual assault class lawsuit.
Reportedly, a class action lawsuit, which signifies that the accused stands as a representative of a collective body, has been filed against Ouellet and more than 88 members of the Quebec diocese clergy. The claims have gained more ground since more than 100 victims have testified to the abuse claims where grotesque details have emerged.
Ouellet’s name had been absent from the lawsuit until now but according to court documents, an alleged victim identified by ‘F’ claimed she had interned as a pastoral agent between 2008 and 2010 when the series of assaults took place. Shockingly, the victim also added that the assaults had taken place during public events.
At the time, Ouellet was the archbishop and head of the archdiocese, transported straight from Rome. He had the authority to hire pastoral agents and his high-ranking position in the ecclesiastical set-up could have been a reason why the victim was forced to keep mum about her traumatic experiences.
Recounting the incidents at a radio show, the victim said, “He grabbed me and then…his hands on my back, they went down pretty low. Quite intrusive for, let’s say someone who is my superior, who is the archbishop of Quebec.“
“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 reveal that the victim had taken her complaints to a committee in charge of reviewing sexual allegations, 10 years later. The committee believed her and told her to file a complaint. Then, they went to the Vatican in 2021 to register the complaint. A virtual meeting was thereafter held between the victim and the Church.
However, more than a year later, Ouellet faced no charges or suffered any repercussions as he continued to wield enormous power within the Church as well as in the public as a prominent cardinal.
Most of the sexual assault cases, in this case nearly 100 of them, had been abused as minors at the hands of priests and other staff with cases dating way back to the 1940s.
Now that ‘F’ has pronounced such allegations and the issue gains momentum in the public press, more potential cases of assault will drift to the surface and open Pandora’s box full of the Church’s lies, deception and secrets.