High Ranking Cardinal in Canada Named in Sexual Abuse Lawsuit


(For Immediate Release August 16, 2022) 

According to news sources in Canada, the name of a senior Vatican cardinal appears on a list of clerics accused of sexual abuse that has been made public as part of a new class action against the Diocese of Quebec. In a class action case representing more than 100 victims, Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been accused of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Viewed as a potential successor to Pope Francis, Cardinal Ouellet was the Archbishop of Quebec during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and now is one of 88 clergy members facing sexual assault claims in a lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Quebec. This class action case in which Cardinal Ouellet has been named is comprised of more than 100 victims who were allegedly sexually abused, most as kids, by priests and other diocesan employees in Quebec beginning as early as 1940.

We applaud the bravery of all of the victims who are involved in this case for coming forward and hope they are able to receive the justice and healing they deserve. We especially recognize that given the prominence of the man who she has accused, the alleged victim of Cardinal Ouellet will no doubt receive intense public scrutiny, and we recognize that for her to have come forward has taken considerable courage.

“Ouellet oversees the Dicastery of Bishops, meaning he’s the guy picking new Bishops. What hope do we have for leadership in the church?” said Leona Huggins, leader of SNAP Vancouver. “We also must question who among the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops knew of his behavior and said nothing? Did some of them want to, but were afraid it would have repercussions on their career? Imagine then what it would be like for victims to step forward.”

Cardinal Ouellet, who was elevated to his title by Pope John Paul II in 2003, has long held powerful positions within the Roman Catholic Church, including as head of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. From 2003 to 2010, he was Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada. In addition to being considered a potential successor to Pope Francis, Cardinal Ouellet was considered a probable contender for Pope in both 2005 and 2013.

We hope that each case that is included within this class action is adjudicated fairly and that victims and survivors are able to get the healing and justice they deserve. We also encourage other survivors of abuse – whether by clergy, family, or any other perpetrator – who may read this story while suffering in silence, to find a trusted friend or loved one to come forward to and share the burden of their trauma from sexual violence.

Finally, we hope that by sharing this story, others may be inspired to learn about the realities of child sexual abuse, the myths, and facts regarding why and when survivors disclose, and what type of change they can make locally to encourage survivors to come forward rather than suffer alone and in silence.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President (814-341-8386, [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)




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