Pope Francis reviewed a second accusation of sexual misconduct against Vatican Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Quebec confirmed Thursday.
The spokesperson told the Quebec-based news agency Présence on Jan. 19 that the misconduct allegation against the prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops was reported to Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, the archbishop of Quebec.
“As soon as Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix received this complaint, it was immediately forwarded to Cardinal Ouellet’s immediate superior, Pope Francis, as provided for in the procedure established by the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi on the handling of abuse committed or concealed by a bishop,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson was responding to a report published Jan. 18 by the French Catholic magazine Golias, which said that a woman it identified as “Marie” made unspecified misconduct allegations against Ouellet, which are said to date back to 2008 and 2009, when the cardinal was archbishop of Quebec.
Quoting correspondence between Marie and Lacroix, the magazine said that Lacroix forwarded the allegations to the pope in September 2020.
Lacroix reportedly wrote to Marie on June 23, 2021, indicating that Ouellet had been subject to a preliminary investigation under the 2019 motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi. But he said that the pope had reviewed a report on the allegation and found “no reason” to open a formal canonical process.
Ouellet announced in December that he is suing a woman for defamation after she accused him of sexual assault, alleging the cardinal had given her inappropriate caresses, hugs, and kisses during his tenure as Archbishop of Quebec from 2003 to 2010.
The 78-year-old said that he was “taking legal action for defamation before the courts of Québec in order to prove the falsity of the allegations” against him, as well as to restore his reputation and honor.
The woman, initially identified only as “F,” recently waved her anonymity, identifying herself as Paméla Groleau.
The allegation was lodged as part of a class-action lawsuit filed by 101 people, who say they were victims of clerical abuse in the Quebec archdiocese, dating back as far as 1940.
The Vatican said in an Aug. 18 statement that following a preliminary investigation, Pope Francis had concluded there were “insufficient elements” to open a formal canonical trial for sexual assault.
The new report, written by Golias’ editor-in-chief Christian Terras, also claimed that a member of Marie’s family was told by an intermediary to expect a phone call from Fr. Jacques Servais, who conducted the preliminary investigation of the other claim made against Ouellet.
Terras asserted that “Jacques Servais never met Marie, including virtually, nor did he seek to have an interview with her,” reported the news agency Présence.
Servais, who is not a canon lawyer, is the director of the Casa Balthasar, a house of formation run by the Lubac-Balthasar-Speyr Association, for which Ouellet sits on the board.
Radio-Canada reported on Jan. 20 that Cardinal Ouellet had issued a statement commenting on the second allegation made against him.
“I confirm that I have voluntarily participated in an investigation of this complaint and have cooperated fully in this regard. I have nothing to hide and have acted transparently in this process,” he said.
According to Radio-Canada, the cardinal, who denied any wrongdoing, added that he was told that the complaint had been dismissed “particularly because the complainant had chosen, after filing her complaint, not to meet with the persons responsible for the investigation.”
This report was updated on Jan. 21, 2023, to include Cardinal Ouellet’s statement.