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Prominent Canadian cardinal charged with sexual assault

#Prominent #Canadian #cardinal #charged #sexual #assault

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who holds a senior position at the Vatican, has been accused of sexual assault in a class action lawsuit targeting more than 80 members of the clergy in the Diocese of Quebec, court documents showed on Tuesday.

The charges of allegedly abusing an intern in 2008 come just weeks after Pope Francis visited Canada, where he apologized for decades of abuse of indigenous children in Catholic-run boarding schools.

Ouellet is prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the most important positions within the Curia, the government of the Vatican.

Responding to a request from AFP, the Diocese of Québec said in a statement that it “takes note of the allegations regarding Cardinal Marc Ouellet” and has made no further comment.

The charges against Ouellet in the civil suit that the Quebec Supreme Court could hear in May include testimony from 101 people who say they were sexually assaulted by members of the clergy and church staff from 1940 to the present.

Ouellet’s accuser, identified only as “F,” says the cardinal — then Archbishop of Quebec — attacked her on multiple occasions. She claims he kissed her in 2010 and ran his hand down her back to her buttocks.

So far, the cardinal has not been prosecuted.

In February, Ouellet opened a Vatican symposium on priesthood before an audience that included Pope Francis, apologizing for “unworthy” clergy and the cover-up of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

“We are all heartbroken and humbled by these crucial questions that challenge us every day as members of the Church,” Ouellet said at the time.

He said the symposium was an opportunity to express regret and seek forgiveness from victims after their lives were “shattered by abusive and criminal conduct” that was hidden or handled lightly to protect the institution and perpetrators.

Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has struggled to address decades of sex abuse scandals, though many campaigners against pedophilia insist much more needs to be done.

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