Confidant of Canadian Pope: Cardinal accused of sexual abuse

Status: 08/17/2022 3:35 pm

It’s the next scandal for the Catholic Church in Canada: In a class-action lawsuit, more than 100 people have accused dozens of priests of sexual abuse. A close confidant of the Pope has also been accused.

Cardinal Mark Ouellet has been sued in Canada over sexual abuse allegations. A former coach accused Ouellet of inappropriate touching, including repeated kisses, “severe” massages and, on one occasion, touching her bottom. The alleged offenses against the cleric allegedly took place about twelve years ago.

At the time, the woman was in her mid-20s and an apprentice, now 78-year-old Ouellet, archbishop of the Diocese of Quebec. The woman says she felt “preyed” by Ouellet at the time. When she raised the issue at the time, she reportedly said she wasn’t the only woman with this issue with Ouellet.

Class action lawsuit against dozens of clergy

Ouellet is not the only Catholic figure to face charges in Canada. The former coach’s case is part of a class-action lawsuit filed by more than 100 people who allege sexual abuse and assault by more than 80 priests. Many of the plaintiffs were minors when the crimes were committed. Most of the cases are said to have occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Ouellet case could be tricky for the Catholic Church because the cardinal now belongs to Pope Francis’ inner circle and is considered his confidant. At the Vatican, he heads the Dicastery, a powerful ecclesiastical body responsible for ordaining bishops. In 2013, Ouellet was considered a possible successor to the resigned Pope Benedict XVI, who brought him to the Vatican.

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It was at the end of July that Pope Francis accompanied them on a tour of Canada marked by papal efforts to reconcile decades of abuse at Catholic boarding schools.

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