Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of Vatican's Dicastery of Bishops, concelebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in Quebec in this July 26, 2018, file photo. CNS photo/Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence

Ouellet denies ‘reprehensible conduct’ as new allegation emerges

  • January 25, 2023

Cardinal Marc Ouellet has vehemently rejected a new accusation of sexual misconduct involving a female complainant while he led the Archdiocese of Quebec.

“I deny having engaged in any reprehensible conduct with this woman,” Ouellet said in a statement released by his Quebec lawyers. 

The statement was published by the Quebec religious information website Présence, which earlier posted the allegations of a French weekly, Golias Hebdo, that a second woman had come forward with a complaint about Ouellet.

Ouellet was cleared last year by a Vatican investigation after he was named in a class action lawsuit involving 140 complainants accusing various Quebec clergy of sexually abusive acts. He subsequently launched a $100,000 defamation suit against the first woman, Pamela Groleau, who named him as a sexual transgressor. 

On Jan. 18, Golias Hebdo, the French weekly, reported that the Vatican had launched an inquiry made by the second woman, identified only as “Marie,” after she made a complaint in 2020 to current Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, Ouellet’s successor in Quebec City. The next day, Lacroix confirmed he had forwarded information received by the complainant to Pope Francis. In June 2021, Lacroix advised “Marie” that Pope had decided there was no case for proceeding against Ouellet.

Ouellet is adamant he is being falsely accused and says he has fully cooperated with the investigations into the complaints. 

“I have nothing to hide and have acted in complete transparency in the context of this process,” a statement released by his Quebec lawyers said. 

However, Présence points to an apparent anomaly that suggests the allegations made by “Marie” were rejected “in particular because the complainant had chosen, after the filing of her complaint, not to meet with the persons responsible for the investigation.”

But the June 2021 letter to “Marie” from Lacroix “indicates that it was Pope Francis himself who decided to not pursue the investigation further because of a lack of evidence,” Présence journalist François Gloutnay notes. 

Further, Gloutnay writes, Ouellet says it was the complainant who made the decision not to meet “the persons responsible for the investigation (but) Cardinal Lacroix makes no mention of Marie’s refusal to meet with the investigator as a basis for the Pope not retaining the complaint. He indicates that the investigation ‘was conducted remotely because of circumstances imposed by the pandemic and that witness testimonies were collected in Quebec and Rome.’ ” 

Whatever the apparent contradictions, Ouellet was equally adamant about his own lack of impropriety and the need for victims of sexual abuse to come forward and “not be discouraged by this type of reporting.”

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